STEPH Brawn reports the Scottish Government launching a consultation on introducing a tourist tax in Scotland and, no surprise, profligate Edinburgh City Council are lurking in the wings like demented latter-day Dick Turpins eager to hold the visitors we should be cherishing to ransom (Consultation launched on introducing tourist tax in Scotland, June 26).

One of the so-called benefits of devolved powers is that we have a chance to do things differently to others and reflect our own culture. So, if market forces do really work in our economy, why don’t we reflect our difference by choosing not to rip off our visitors (customers), and make our tourist attractions destinations that value the considerable business our visitors bring, and use our different fairer approach to encourage more to invest their leisure time with us?

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In any case, Edinburgh is already way too expensive and becoming just another destination that views visitors as a cash-cow, a profit-centre to harvest cash from.

Heeding Edinburgh’s call to drive less/walk more, we walked into town to view the Declaration of Arbroath exhibition in the National Museum of Scotland (excellent by the way) and meandered down to the Grassmarket, supposed to be a public thoroughfare that my taxes help to fund. There we were met with sections of the street hived off by the pubs and restaurants – annoying, but we decided to enter one of them anyway for refreshment.

£6.50 for a pint of Guinness, £4.75 for a gin and £2 for a minuscule bottle of tonic. So, we ordered: expensive, but accepted. Yet when we paid the bill there was a not-clearly-stated 10% service charge added; this for the privilege of our drinks being delivered to the table (the bill paid before I had the opportunity to refuse to pay this).

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Well done to them. They extracted more money from us, but they really lose because we won’t be going back, to their establishment or any other in the street. And we’ll actively warn others to beware these greedy businesses.

Yet, on top of this naked greed we’re expected to think it a good idea to impose a tourist tax? Why don’t we just stop everyone at the “gates” of the city and allow our council to dip deep into the pockets of our visitors, and if they still keep coming then we can charge them even more until their pips squeaking deafens us or they stop visiting us at all?

Perhaps the sad fact is that it wouldn’t matter how much cash our council gets, they will still squander it on their inane schemes that no-one really wants, don’t improve our lives and are rarely financed directly by those who “benefit” from them. Rather than killing the goose laying the golden egg, shouldn’t councils be cutting their cloth to suit our means, vastly improving efficiency and eradicating waste?

Incidentally, only a complete numpty screwball could invent a problem of “overtourism”, like saying we over-produce whisky or green energy, or apologising for having more water in Loch Ness than all the standing water in England and Wales. Or Scots having more common sense over Brexit than the English xenophobes who prefer a shortage of talent to getting their operations done, or staffing their hospitality industry, or getting their agricultural produce to market.

Tourists are like immigrants. We desperately need more of both.

Let’s promote Scotland and Scots as fair and welcoming. Let’s tell all that we don’t tax our tourists directly; that’s the difference we can make when our decision-making is sound and fair.

No tourist tax here!

Jim Taylor