TOURIST tax takings could drive investment in local transport networks, it has been claimed.

The Scottish Government launched a consultation on the introduction of visitor levies earlier this year.

As it closes, charity Transform Scotland is calling for the policy to be adopted in high-tourist traffic areas of Scotland, with the funds collected funnelled into improving transport for all.

In a survey of Edinburgh residents, the organisation found 70% of people there say their lives are “frequently” impacted by tourism.

The National:

Almost 80% backed the set-up of transient visitor levies (TVLs) and 90% said they do not consider such charges when booking holidays themselves – and would not be deterred by them.

Nearly all respondents were aware of the council’s proposed £2-a-night levy for their city, which could bring in £11.6-14.6 million to the local economy, it is claimed.

And those polled said they’d want to see the cash invested in the capital’s streets and public transport.

Transform Scotland, which advocates for better transport networks, has backed that call. Director Colin Howden said: “There is global concern about the impacts of tourism, from fuelling the growth in aviation emissions to the impacts that large tourist volumes have on fragile historic environments and ecosystems.

“The volume of tourism is having severe impacts on Scotland’s transport system. During Edinburgh’s festivals, our bus network now routinely grinds to a halt.

“It’s clear that something needs to be done to tackle the impacts of tourism in Scotland. Our report takes forward the debate on the Edinburgh TVL proposal by presenting additional public opinion on how the revenue from the scheme should be invested.

“We believe that a significant proportion of the TVL revenue should be invested in improving the city centre public realm and in supporting public transport services.”

READ MORE: CIOT calls on ministers to explain tourism tax implementation

UKHospitality, which represents hotels, has described the Edinburgh fee plan as “disastrous”.

With a resident population of around 500,000, the city receives more than 4 million visitors every year, with much of this activity centred around its world-famous summer arts festivals.

If brought in, its TVL will be the first in the UK.

But Transform Scotland says other destinations like Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and the Highlands should “actively pursue” their own local tourist tax schemes.

Study author Poppy Marples said: “TVL schemes are widespread across Europe, being in operation in 19 countries, and in our report we highlight the schemes in operation in Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Florence and Geneva.

“There is now strong public support for The City of Edinburgh Council’s proposals, and we conclude that it is now imperative for the Scottish Government to swiftly come forward with legislation to enable local authorities to implement TVL schemes that are appropriate to the local circumstances across Scotland. We note that while Edinburgh has an overheated tourism sector, there are other parts of Scotland where a TVL may not be appropriate.

“We are not persuaded by the hostility from the hospitality industry towards TVL proposals.

“We have seen no evidence that a TVL scheme in Edinburgh at a rate of £2 would impact on visitor numbers, and nor would we expect a charge less than the price of a coffee to have any impact on demand. In the report, we note that Florence has experienced further growth in visitor numbers since the introduction of a TVL scheme in 2011.”