A TOURIST tax would not dissuade people from visiting Edinburgh, according to new research.

The independent study also showed the majority of local people were in favour of the idea.

Marketing Edinburgh commissioned the research over July and August – the festival season – to assess views on the implementation of a transient visitor levy (TVL).

It showed that 92% of tourists said they would have visited Edinburgh even if a TVL of £1 per room, per night were in operation.

More than three-quarters (78%) of the sample questioned said they would still come to Edinburgh, even if the tax was as high as £4 per room, per night.

The research also found an equal number of visitors supported the levy as were against (47% for and against).

This is the first time residents and visitors to Edinburgh have been asked for their views on the issue.

The study found the majority of residents were in favour – with 59% saying they were supportive of a TVL introduced in the city, and 55% aware of the City of Edinburgh Council’s proposals to introduce such a levy in the city.

When asked about potential drawbacks, 45% of residents were concerned about putting tourists off – a concern addressed by the findings that an overwhelming majority of visitors would still come to Edinburgh even if a tax were in place.

A quarter said they were “totally in favour of the tax”, while only 12% of residents were “totally against the tax”.

The survey considered the views of 519 residents (evenly split between those living in and around the city centre, and those living in other parts of the city) and 561 paying overnight visitors (10% from Scotland, 35% from the rest of the UK, 56% overseas – broadly reflective of actual visitor numbers).

As well as being asked for their views, the survey also shed light on how people would like a visitor levy to be operated should one be introduced:

Visitors and residents preferred a flat rate charge levied on accommodation over a charge on other services such as taxis or restaurants, as this was easier to understand, but those equally concerned with the fairness of a charge supported a percentage.

Residents felt a £5.20 charge on a £100 room fee would be reasonable, while visitors suggested £3.40.

The sample study also considered how a potential tourist tax would be spent, with 54% of visitors and 28% of residents hoping to see it spent on public areas where there are many tourists; 28% of residents felt the money raised from a tax should be spent on roads; 12% of visitors felt a tax should be spent on festivals and events, while 8% of residents shared this view.

Marketing Edinburgh chief executive John Donnelly said: “We need to find a solution that enables sustainable investment in Edinburgh’s growing tourism industry while supporting the council to manage the consequences of that success.

“Transient Visitor Levies are used widely throughout the world and to great effect, raising significant amounts of money, so it’s important that we put this option on the table, with a goal of reinvesting funds into keeping the city at its best, to the benefit of residents, visitors and businesses alike.

“It’s a topic that’s now being widely discussed nationally, although what has been missing from that conversation so far is the views of residents and visitors.

“This insight demonstrates that visitors would not be put off coming to Edinburgh, and indeed the majority of residents support it so long as it isn’t to the detriment of tourism within the city.

“A city-wide discussion with Edinburgh’s businesses is now under way and, with the views of residents and visitors in mind, we can now confidently debate the facts.”