The director of Edinburgh's world-famous International Festival has backed the idea of a tourist or bed tax to raise funds for culture in the city.

Fergus Linehan, unveiling his second festival programme in 2016, said he thought the idea of a bed tax or tourism levy, to raise money ringfenced for its festival, makes sense as a mechanism of raising funds.

Earlier this year the idea by Julia Armour, the new director of Festivals Edinburgh, the umbrella festival body, and was backed by figures including John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh and Councillor Richard Lewis, culture convenor, although it is resisted by hotels associations.

Any charge would likely be a bed tax on hotel room charges, with proceeds ring-fenced for cultural activities.

The bed tax would go some way, supporters say, to ameliorate the "fiscal cliff", the £10m shortfall in public funds which is expected in the coming years.

It has previously been estimated that Edinburgh City Council could raise £10m a year by charging £1 or £2 per hotel room per night.

Cities that already have such a system include Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Bruges, and Dubai, as well as others, while others have a VAT system.

Linehan said: "I think the question with Edinburgh and its festivals is that there is a series of events that is very unique to Edinburgh which are the reason huge numbers of people come.

"And they place a huge financial strain on the city in the sense that other places don't have - the question is then, the mechanism of how it gets paid for.

"This [the bed tax idea] is one mechanism which in some places has proved to work.

"The reason I think there is something really good in it is that it becomes a virtuous circle. If tourism increases, the tax increases so it can be re-invested - I think there is something very positive in that."

"As opposed to the opposite of that, that tourism increases but revenues to local government don't, and what there ends up being is additional costs, and what should be a positive, becomes a negative.

"There is precedent, and this is a unique situation."

He added: "What Edinburgh is struggling at the moment with is that strategically, no one wants to damage the festivals but, from a financial point of view there is an awful lot of cuts, so what people are saying is, let's find a mechanism where the income is not bouncing up and down based on the vagaries of local government.

"It also ties in a level of responsibility between the tourism economy and the festivals.

"I know people have different views on that, and obviously everyone wants Edinburgh to be competitive, but personally I don't feel it is an unreasonable mechanism."

Linehan said that EIF ticket sales were healthy at the festival, donors had been "strong" but the potential cuts in public funding were a "real anxiety". It receives funding from the City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland.

"It is all built on that foundation, so there is that anxiety that the rug will be pulled from out underneath us, which I don't it will," he said.

"It's a concern. But I don't think there is anyone in the public sector who can speak with any clarity about how things are going to be in the next few years, it is as simple as that.

"But there is absolutely the best will in the world - from all parties - to make sure the festival remains successful."