Business bosses fear the introduction of a tourist tax could hit visitor numbers and trade.

The Scottish Government has committed to consult on, and introduce, legislation to give councils the power to apply the tax, also known as a Transient Visitor Levy (TVL).

But Ayrshire’s Chamber of Commerce say the tax would add another burden to a sector that is already struggling and send out the wrong message to visitors and investors.

CEO Val Russell said: “British hospitality businesses are already amongst the most highly taxed in Europe and the UK currently ranks 135th of 136 countries in the World Economic Forum on international tourism price-competitiveness. A tourism levy would further prejudice this position inevitably causing, higher prices, a reduction in visitor numbers and lower business profitability.

“All of this threatens the fair work agenda in a sector which already struggles to pay the real living wage as well as potentially reducing inward investment.

“The sector has also been dealing with unprecedented challenges in recruitment and retaining of skilled staff. This has been made even more difficult by the prolonged and damaging uncertainty around Brexit.

“The tourism sector is already facing significant cost pressure in recent years, particularly around business rates. Regardless of how the levy is framed, this would act as a further unwelcome tax “We urge our council leaders to consult with the sector before making any decisions and urge all tourism businesses to take part in the Scottish Government consultation that close December 2.”