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Highland Council calls on Scottish Government for motorhome visitor tax

Argyll and Bute motorhome parking

Highland councillors have backed calls to force motorhome and campervan owners to stump up extra cash for visiting.

It comes amid a planned ‘tourism tax’, which won’t affect motorhome drivers unless they park at designated camping sites.

Lochaber councillor Kate Willis said that decision will push more tourists towards wild camping or parking in lay-bys.

She lodged a motion asking for the council to write to the Scottish Government to rethink the move.

And that motion has now been carried by Highland Council.

The issue was debated during a full meeting of the council last week.

Councillor Willis said: “An estimated 200,000 motorhomes visit the Highlands every year.

“Many do not stay overnight in campsites. This is partly because we do not have the facilities to deal with this volume.

“Including motorhomes in a tourist levy, not just for those staying at a campsite, would generate considerable revenue for Highland Council.

“This could then be used to provide adequate facilities and infrastructure, to improve the visitor experience and the lives of Highland residents.”

While there was plenty of agreement with the general purpose of the plan, not everybody was on board with whether it would work.

Inverness councillor Duncan Macpherson also said there was a risk of turning people off from visiting the Highlands.

He said: “We need to be very careful that we don’t kill the goose that lays golden eggs every year in our communities.”

Sutherland councillor Richard Gale also raised concerns about how the money would be collected.

He said: “This whole motion is flawed. We have a number of local residents who own campervans.

“How do you define if you’re a tourist? If you live in Inverness and drive to Fort William, do you have to pay?

“Collecting this revenue would be so difficult to do.”

Council convener Bill Lobban backed the motion and said he’d recently held discussions with a government minister who was supportive of the idea.

Highland Council’s latest budget included a “motorhome passport scheme”.

This would involve tourists voluntarily paying £40 for a bumper sticker to put on their vehicle.

The council hopes to raise £500,000 a year through the scheme, but that would require 12,500 people to sign up.

Critics of the plan have called the estimated figure “the height of optimism”.

With no amendment put forward, the motion passed and the council will now ask Holyrood for a rethink.

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Andrew Grisswell March 20, 2024 at 1:48 pm

That’s a sure fire way of discouraging tourists, I for one would not go to Scotland should a tax be introduced.

e hancock March 22, 2024 at 8:46 am

It seems unfair to charge those of us that pay quitea lot to stay on a site anyway to charge us and not those that dont . We always spend quite a lot at the distilleries buying gifts for Christmas /Birthdays and eating out as its our holiday treat . £40 would be one less bottle of whisky . On a different matter i just want to give a heads up to all that we had our motorhome taken from our drive and the sturdy Wheel clamp was prized off and the steering wheel was cut to remove the lock on it . Thankfully we had a tracker and it was retrieved tho still being repaired . We have now got a Disc steering wheel clamp that is a metal that cant be cut . Luckily they did not damage /take any contents and hope to be up to Scotland in the summer .

John March 24, 2024 at 2:10 pm

It’s just another tax grab and will definitely put people off from going. I have always found Scotland a pretty hostile place. I use to work up there regularly and wherever I stayed we were always warned against going to the pubs at night.
I took my daughter up there to climb Ben Nevis not all that long ago. We stopped to get a meal at a restaurant near the campsite and we’re informed there were no tables. There was also a family from Australia who got straight in. I should point out the restaurant was empty at the time. We called into Fort William to the local supermarket. Got to the till and the lady serving, upon hearing our English accent, switched her language to Galic and completely ignored us and served the Scottish couple behind us, needless to say we just left. We also saw an interesting car bumper sticker which read F#ck Off Home English. Never been back since and would never go again. Such a shame really.


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