TOURISTS say they would not be deterred from visiting Edinburgh if a tourist tax was introduced.

A survey of visitors to the city commissioned Edinburgh's marketing agency at the height of the summer tourist season found 92 per cent would still come to Scotland's capital if they faced a levy of £1 per room per night.

But the research also found that 47% of visitors were against the principal of the tourist tax.

The city council says adding a £1 charge to hotel guests' bills could raise £11m to fund local services in Edinburgh.

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The city is keen to introduce a "transient visitor levy" amid rising visitor numbers. Such occupancy or "bed tax" schemes are common in many EU countries, and other UK cities including Hull and London have pondered the idea.

However, such a move has been opposed by business groups such as the Federation of Small Businesses, who call it "potentially damaging".

According to the research produced by Marketing Edinburgh which took place in July and August, just over three in four said they would not be put off even if the proposed tax was as high as £4 per night.

A separate survey of residents found 59% supporting the tourist tax.

The survey emerged as MSPs heard that a tourist tax was needed to prevent visitors being put off visiting the Highlands because they “have to go to the toilet behind a bush".

Highland Council convener Bill Lobban told Holyrood’s tourism committee said he did not accept the argument that visitors will be deterred from visiting the Highlands with a £1 a night bed levy The committee heard the six million annual visitors to the area bring £1.2 billion a year and support 20,000 jobs, but put pressure on roads, parking and public toilets.

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said: “We need to find a solution that enables sustainable investment in Edinburgh’s growing tourism industry while supporting the council to manage the consequences of that success.

"Transient Visitor Levies are used widely throughout the world and to great effect, raising significant amounts of money, so it’s important that we put this option on the table, with a goal of reinvesting funds into keeping the city at its best, to the benefit of residents, visitors and businesses alike.

"It’s a topic that’s now being widely discussed nationally, although what has been missing from that conversation so far is the views of residents and visitors. This insight demonstrates that visitors would not be put off coming to Edinburgh, and indeed the majority of residents support it so long as it isn’t to the detriment of tourism within the city."

Marketing Edinburgh said a city-wide discussion with city businesses is now underway and, with the views of residents and visitors in mind "we can now confidently debate the facts".

Some 519 residents and 561 paying overnight visitors - 10% from Scotland, 35% from the rest of the UK and 56% overseas – were asked for their views in the survey.