Tuesday 21 May 2024
 7.2°C   ESE Light Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Business / Visitor levy on cruise ships visitors might undermine industry’s competitiveness, port authority warns

Photo: John Coutts

LERWICK Port Authority has reiterated its concern that any potential new tax on cruise ship visitors could have a detrimental impact on Shetland’s competitiveness as a tourist destination.

The port’s chief executive Calum Grains said on Thursday that even without any new taxes the cruise sector was already making a significant contribution to the tourism economy through job creation, throughput in venues and visitor spend.

His comments are in response to a call from the Liberal Democrats to include cruise ship passengers in the planned visitor levy legislation currently going through the Scottish Parliament.

Local MSP Beatrice Wishart said amending the legislation, which currently would only apply to hotel and other overnight accommodation, to include cruise ship visitors was a matter of fairness.

Lib Dems push for cruise ship visitors to be included in tourism tax bill

The cruise sector is set to grow further in Shetland in 2024 with 156 ships booked for the summer. Last year, over 123,000 cruise ship passengers on just under 130 ships arrived at Lerwick.

Lerwick Port Authority charges cruise operators £4.56 for every passenger coming ashore in Lerwick, with children under the age of 16 costing half that amount.

Meanwhile, Highlands and Islands Green MSP Ariane Burgess has called on Shetland Islands Council to embrace the forthcoming levy to raise vital funds for local services.

In addition to the visitor levy, the Greens are also pushing for the introduction of a cruise ship levy on environmental grounds, a policy move that has been confirmed in the budget.

Port authority chief executive Calum Grains. Photo: Shetland News

Capt Grains said any new tax was unsettling for the industry.

“The unknowns surrounding the introduction of any new taxation, either through the Visitor Levy or the proposed new Cruise Tax from the Scottish Green Party to tackle emissions is concerning and unsettling for the industry,” he said.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

 

“We are following the discussions closely as any new tax could have significant impacts on the competitiveness of Shetland as a destination and how Scotland is perceived more widely within the cruise industry.

“If a levy is brought in, a clear reinvestment strategy must exist for any proceeds directly benefitting the tourist industry and we welcome any continued consultation with the Scottish Government to develop efficient and competitive proposals that do not disproportionately affect island communities.”

Meanwhile, referring to the visitor levy, Burgess said a small charge could make a big difference.

“That is why I am urging Shetland Islands Council to apply the levy and use the funds to benefit our visitors as well as our communities,” she said.

“This is just one of the steps Scottish Greens are taking in government to give more powers to local councils, alongside the ability to double council tax on holiday homes.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.

 

Newsletters

Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.