PLANS to charge tourists an extra £5 a night have been modelled by Scottish ministers as they continue to examine the case for introducing a visitor tax.

Edinburgh wants tourists to pay an additional £2 a night – or two per cent of the cost of their overnight stay – in a bid to raise £13 million annually.

But the proposals have been criticised by industry figures and have so far met with little enthusiasm from the Scottish Government.

Ministers insist they have “no plans” to legislate on the issue, but have now launched a “national discussion” to explore the scheme.

Documents show the Government has analysed a range of different scenarios – including charging tourists an extra £1, £2 or £5 a night.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the consultation would “allow all different views on a tourism tax to be heard”.

She said: “The Scottish Government is very clear that this debate must fully involve the tourism and hospitality industry and provide an opportunity for their views to be heard.

“We have invited contributions and participation from a wide range of groups with an interest in tourism, economic growth and public sector finance.

“The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) has been invited to represent the local authority point of view.

“We will ensure that the current debate is supported by objective, evidence based research with analysis of the pros and cons of a tourism tax.”

Cosla, which represents local government and lobbies on its behalf, has called for councils to be handed beefed-up financial powers which would give them the ability to introduce a “transient visitor tax”.

It previously suggested Scottish ministers are increasingly open to the move, which would require new laws to be passed at Holyrood.

Similar taxes operate throughout the EU in cities such as Amsterdam and Berlin, and are often raised per person per night in hotels, or per room per night.

Edinburgh Council, which is run by a SNP-Labour coalition, launched its own public consultation on its plans last month.

But analysis by UK Hospitality suggested introducing a tourist tax of £2 a night across Scotland would lead to a £175m loss in visitor expenditure.

In 2017, there were almost 14.9 million overnight visits to Scotland, with tourists splashing out nearly £5.3 billion on shops and businesses.

Overnight visitor expenditure in Edinburgh alone reached £1.8 billion – 35 per cent of the Scottish total.