THIS is being written from our hotel at Soma Bay on the Red Sea. I know that when I go to pay my bill on Monday a tourist tax will have been added on to the final amount. There is no surprise here, as a tourist tax has been added on in every one of the countries that my wife and I have been fortunate enough to visit. So I was dismayed to read that yet again it would appear that the hospitality industry is seeking to frustrate the attempts by the Scottish Government to introduce a similar tax here ("‘Spectacular own goal’ underlines the tourism industry’s numerous struggles", The Herald, March 7).

Some 18 million visitor bed nights were recorded in Scotland in 2022. If there had been charge of say £3 a night levied then some £50 million would have been raised for our hard-pressed local authorities. Indeed just think of how much money would have been raised if the tax had been introduced in 2019 when it was first proposed.

It simply beggars belief that the Scottish Government has not shown more urgency in getting the Scottish tourist tax onto the statute book with the necessary administrative procedures in place. It is not as though our legislators are looking at a blank sheet of paper. There are any number of examples to be considered in the many countries where such a tax is in operation.

Eric Melvin, Soma Bay (normally Edinburgh).

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Cut back nurse requirements

I AM not one for sticking plaster cures for long-term problems, but is there not an opportunity for the NHS to recruit more nurses in the short term and in this time of crisis by doing away with the requirement to have a degree or similar academic qualification prior to entering the profession?

Surely nursing working practice is more akin to that of apprentices such as joiners, plumbers and electricians where you learn on the job and under the careful eye of a senior.

Nurses are the glue which holds the whole NHS together and it seems to me that much could be gained by recruiting nurses straight from school or on application. Even the freshest trainee/apprentice can take some of the burden off the older hands while gaining their own experience.

You can’t learn to swim in a library.

Keith Swinley, Ayr.

Does the public respect its vets?

AS an author and veterinary practitioner over several decades, the mode of today's veterinary surgeons is of considerable interest to me.

Do today's vets provide a valued service to animals and their owners, or do they now put business profit before the provision of vocational care? Has this long-established profession lost its way, and in the process, lost the confidence of the public?

The veterinary profession developed over time, largely through the need to foster the wellbeing of horses, indispensable to agriculture, transport and even warfare. The term "veterinary surgeon" dates back to 1796, being devised by the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.

Information from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is that there are 37,000 registered veterinary surgeons in Great Britain, of which 90% are in practice; 67% are female and 33% male.

The number of veterinary students at the eight universities in this country are in the region of 8,700, some 1,400 graduating each academic year.

How then do the general public value and respect the veterinary profession? Judging from recent press and TV reports, with a degree of scepticism, distrust and disillusionment.

The most serious issues are: • Trust between owner and vet becomes strained by absence of clarity with regard to diagnosis, future treatment and prognosis.

• Lack of guidance with regard to costs. How many surgeries have routine scale of fees on display?

• Repeat prescription policy of practice: in particular, is consultation required prior to medication being dispensed?

• Scale of fee variation between town and country, within local areas and throughout Great Britain.

• Is "value for money practice not more realistic than specialist practices?

Such areas of concern to owners may well be summarised in a recent press snippet: "Get a pet and find a vet, but beware of the upselling that comes with it resulting in unnecessary and expensive costs promoted in a relentless manner".

At the end of the day, it is the public who will decide what value they put on the contribution of vets to society: will it be thumbs up or thumbs down?

James Weir, Milltimber, Aberdeenshire.

The Herald: Should we be scale back the qualifications needed to become a nurse?Should we be scale back the qualifications needed to become a nurse? (Image: PA)

Beware the e-bikes mayhem

THE Department for Transport (DfT) is consulting on doubling the maximum power of e-bikes so they will become twice as powerful. Twice as powerful would mean more accidents involving pedestrians and more deaths and injuries. The DfT says that e-bike motors would still cut out once a speed of 15.5mph is reached but there is ample evidence that tampering with the e-bike can achieve much higher speeds.

The DfT also proposes to remove the requirement for e-bike motors to only provide assistance when the user is pedalling. Surely this would make it like an electric motor bike and thus have to be registered with the DVLA and taxed and insured and have a number plate?

You think this is bad? Just wait until May when it is possible that the Government will allow one million e-scooters legally on our roads and hence illegally on our pavements and shopping malls. E-bikes and e-scooters are already a fire hazard with the lithium batteries spontaneously going on fire causing deaths and injuries.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

A home truth

RETIRED football referee AB Crawford's experiences (Letters, March 8) reminded me of a friend who, when his playing days were over, refereed rugby matches.

In a particularly tousy local derby, many decisions deemed controversial were in favour of the away team. After showering and changing, my friend was invited by the home club's chairman to stay for a cup of tea.

Said friend explained that he had to get up the road, to be told: "That's the best decision you've made all day".

David Miller, Milngavie.