Edinburgh Fringe whinge: hotels and council fight over ‘bed tax’ plan

Edinburgh council deputy leader Steve Cardownie

EDINBURGH hotels have been accused of making vast profits from the city’s festival and giving nothing back.

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie, the city’s festivals and events champion, claimed hoteliers are “laughing all the way to the bank”.

And he said that it was about time that a “bed tax” was imposed where around £1 from each room booked was then used for city events or promotion.

The average revenue brought in for every hotel room that was available in August was £104.25 per night in the capital – up by nine per cent last year and higher than every other city in the UK.

But hoteliers have hit back at the comments and said he was living in “cloud cuckoo land”.

Councillor Cardownie said: “The hotels make no contribution to festivals and events in this city. Our patience is wearing thin and they are laughing all the way to the bank and leaving it to the public sector to put money into festivals and events.

“The time has come to have a serious look at this. They keep saying they will offer us a voluntary system but there comes a time when something has to happen.

“The public purse is struggling and we might need to look at the type of programme that we can put on unless something happens.

“Many hotels up their rates during festivals and events yet start crying foul and gnashing their teeth when anyone suggests that they want them to contribute to the city. Who are they trying to kid?”

Colin Paton, chairman of the Edinburgh Hotels Association and chief executive of the Portland Hotels group, said: “This is another wonderful example of how Mr Cardownie thinks there is only one month in a year. While I do not dispute that Edinburgh has had a strong month in August, our expenses are streaming up because of inflation.

“It is not practical for Edinburgh to disadvantage itself on a UK and European context by having a bed tax. Also, why should it only be paid by hotels? It is cloud cuckoo land.

“Mr Cardownie needs to get in the real word and get a refresher course on the private sector because he is 100 per cent wrong and it is shameful that he makes these utterances without knowing what is happening.”

Mr Paton said hotels already contributed to the public sector through business rates, which took into account sales and profits, and argued a bed tax would be “double tax on our profits”.