BHA continues to represent the interests of the hospitality and tourism industry in relation to the independence and constitutional change debate as the Referendum approaches. The position remains much as reported in the advice note which has been sent to all BHA members. The BHA position is to remain politically neutral, provide facts and advice to members and remind politicians in both Yes Scotland and Better Together camps of:
- The importance of the hospitality and tourism industries.
- The factors which will affect growth and competitiveness in our sector.
- The need for sustained support for tourism.
In response to the Scottish Government’s White Paper on Independence, The UK Government has published 12 Scotland analysis papers, with summaries, which review economic, domestic and international issues and also a series of information factsheets which address questions raised by the population at large. These can, respectively, be obtained from:
- www.gov.uk/government/collections/scotland-analysis-papers-summary-leaflets and
- By calling the Scotland Office on 0131 244 9010
- Or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Clarity is still required on a number of matters including the options to independence. However, the three main pro-union parties do not have a shared view on this:
- The Lib-Dems favour some form of Devo Plus or Devo Max with substantial tax-raising powers for Scotland and less centralisation, with similar powers for other devolved countries based around a federal structure. There is little specific to tourism or hospitality.
- Labour’s Scottish Devolution Commission report makes little specific mention of tourism or hospitality. Labour proposes greater devolution of taxation, allocation of increased powers to local authorities in respect of economic development and the reservation of significant powers to Westminster, including VAT. Matters of relevance to the hospitality industry include:The Conservative’s report on future devolution will be published towards the end of May.
- Empowering local authorities to engage further in economic development and introduce initiatives such as tourist levies.
- The potential introduction of the Living Wage.
- A reversal of policy in relation to APD – having previously supported devolving APD, Labour will now consider environmental impacts and how else the duty might be reformed.
BHA will continue to engage in the debate (see also reference under forthcoming events to the Beyond the Referendum event which will take place on 20 May) and has met / will meet with the following to press the hospitality and tourism case:
- Senior civil servants in The Scotland Office
- Alistair Carmichael MP, Secretary of State for Scotland
- Murdo Fraser MSP, Chair of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee and Conservative spokesperson on tourism
- David Mundell MP, Under Secretary of State for Scotland
- Tavish Scott MSP, Lib-Dem spokesperson on tourism
- Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism
- Jenny Marra MSP, Labour spokesperson on tourism