The following FAQs set out answers to many of the questions you may have in connection with the Tourism Business Improvement District (Tourism BID) for Moray Speyside.

If you have questions that are not addressed by the following, please contact info@morayspeyside.com – not only will this allow us to answer your question but we can also add your question to these FAQs to assist other businesses.

What area does the Tourism BID cover?

The Tourism BID’s geographic area matches the administrative areas of the county of Moray, within the Moray Council region.

The Tourism BID area does not include the area covered by Elgin's existing town centre BID. Businesses within the Elgin BID zone can apply to become 'opt-in' members of Visit Moray Speyside.

How will the Tourism BID operate?

The work of the Tourism BID will be delivered through a company limited by guarantee.

Once businesses have paid their Levy, they can apply to become 'members' of the Company by means of a simple application (membership is subject to the approval of the Directors and contingent upon applicants agreeing to abide by the Company's Article of Association).

'Opt-in' businesses can also apply to become 'members' of the Company.

For clarity, being a levy payer does not automatically make an individual or business a 'member' of the company as members are liable for the £1 guarantee should the business fail. It is for this reason that businesses must apply for membership.

The Directors of the Company will be responsible for ensuing that the business plan is delivered, that the organisation is run legally and in a financially responsible way.

Is the legislation behind Tourism BIDs new?

BIDS have been around since the 1970’s, but it wasn’t until 2006 when the Scottish Government enacted Business Improvement Districts BIDs legislation.

There are now some 40 BIDs across Scotland. BIDs were initially focused on town centres, but the model was extended to be sector-specific BIDs across a larger geographic areas and Tourism BIDs were created.

As an example, the first Tourism BIDS have been around since the 1970’s, but it wasn’t until 2006 when the Scottish Government enacted Business Improvement Districts BIDs legislation.

There are now some 40 BIDs across Scotland. BIDs were initially focused on town centres, but the model was extended to be sector-specific BIDs across a larger geographic areas and Tourism BIDs were created.

As an example, the first Tourism Business Improvement District in Scotland, Visit Inverness Loch Ness was established in 2014 and the organisation has just received a positive YES vote for a second 5-year term.usiness Improvement District in Scotland, Visit Inverness Loch Ness was established in 2014 and the organisation has just received a positive YES vote for a second 5-year term.

Can my business ‘Opt-in’ to the Tourism BID?

Whilst the Moray Speyside Tourism BID is focused squarely on tourism and visitor business, any business can ‘opt-in’ to the Tourism BID, subject to approval by the Board of Directors. A simple application process is being developed and will be launched in September 2020.

Is a Tourism Business Improvement District just another tax?

No – crucially, with a Tourism BID, businesses get to influence what the money is spent on. This is not the case with a tax! All the money raised via the levy is devoted to delivering a programme of projects and services that are set out in the Business Plan with the specific aim of strengthening the region's tourism industry and supporting your business.

How long will Tourism Business Improvement District last?

The Moray Speyside Tourism BID will last for 5 years - from 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2025. Towards the end of the 5-year term, there is another voting round and the Tourism BID is either renewed for a further 5 years or comes to an end.

How does the Ballot work?

The vote is a postal ballot conducted by the Electoral Reform Society and is carried out under strict guidelines and regulations.

Once open, the ballot period runs for 42 days. Details of the ballot were sent to all eligible persons a minimum of 42 days before the close of the ballot.

For the ballot to be successful three criteria must be met:

  • There must be at least a minimum turnout (headcount) of 25% of the businesses in the proposed TBID area, by number and combined rateable value.
  • Over 50% of those that vote must vote in favour of the TBID.
  • Those that vote in favour of the TBID must represent over 50% of the total rateable value of the votes cast.

If the vote is approved, all eligible properties owners, irrespective of how they voted, are legally bound to pay the levy for each of the five years. If the vote fails, the TBID goes no further.

Who was eligible to vote?

Eligibility for voting is as laid down by statute from the Scottish Government; It is the person eligible to pay the non-domestic rate. This is usually the business owner or operator in the case of locally-owned businesses. Responsibility for regional or national companies may be held at head office level, who may wish a local representative to cast the vote on their behalf.

How does the process of setting up a Tourism BID work?

A consultation with tourism businesses and stakeholders took place in late 2018 with a survey of over 150 businesses, numerous focus groups and a series of one-to-one interviews.

Further consultation with businesses continued over spring and summer 2019 to refine and develop the priorities and areas of work included in the activities of the Tourism BID.

From these discussions a Business Plan was drawn up which included the proposed business objectives, performance indicators and management structure.

Eligible businesses were invited to vote on the Business Plan by means of a 6-week postal ballot, held between December 2019 and January 2020. Ballot papers were sent out to all businesses 42 days before the ballot deadline.

The Ballot result was announced on 16th January 2020 and the Tourism BID company began its work officially on 1st April 2020

How much is the Tourism BID Levy?

How much is Tourism Business Improvement District Levy?

All Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are funded by a levy. The levy is determined in a variety of different ways, but in the case of the Moray Speyside Tourism BID, there is a simple 4 band scale of charges. In formulating the levy scale, the Steering Group looked at every other Scottish Business Improvement District, the nearby Inverness Tourism BID and took on board suggestions from business that a 'banded' scale of charges was their preference.

The bands are clear and simple to understand.

BAND A - for businesses with a Rateable Value between £2,000 and £4,999 = £273.75 per year (equivalent to 75p per day)
BAND B - for businesses with a Rateable Value between £5,000 and £14,999 = £365 per year (equivalent to £1 per day)
BAND C - for businesses with a Rateable Value between £15,000 and £99,999 = £730 per year
BAND D - for businesses with a Rateable Value of over £100,000 = £1460 per year

The levy is set so as to create enough revenue to cover the costs of the activities set out in the business plan and apportioned across all eligible levy payers in a fair and transparent manner that is judged to be affordable by the businesses.

The levy rates will, other than increases for inflation, be fixed for the 5-year duration of the Tourism Business Improvement District.

You can find out the Rateable Value of your business at the Scottish Assessors website. https://www.saa.gov.uk/

How do I know if my business is included in the Tourism BID?

There are four criteria that determine if a business is included in the Tourism Business Improvement District:

  1. Your business is registered or operates in Moray Speyside, the designated geographical area covered by the proposed Tourism BID.
  2. Your business is eligible to pay non-domestic rates, as detailed on the Moray Council Valuation Roll by the local Assessor (even if you are exempt and do not pay business rates).
  3. Your business has a non-domestic rateable value of £2,000 or above.
  4. Your business operates within one of the following tourism sectors (consisntent with the VisitScotland Quality Assurance scheme):
    • Accommodation Providers (including self-caterers, hotels, hostels, B&B's, camping & caravan sites)
    • Breweries and Distilleries with Visitor Centres
    • Golf Clubs
    • Heritage & Cultural Organisations
    • Museums & Historic Buildings
    • Tourist Shops
    • Visitor Attractions including activity & outdoor centres

Businesses without a non-domestic rateable value or those below the threshold are exempt from paying the levy. However, they can if they so wish ‘opt–in’ by paying an annual fee and become an 'Opt-in' member.

Why is there a Tourism BID for Moray Speyside?

Put simply, because our region deserves it and without the Moray Speyside Tourism BID, there will be no organisation devoted to supporting and developing tourism in Moray Speyside – this means that the number of visitors coming to Moray Speyside will reduce.

The Tourism sector in Moray Speyside has grown significantly since Moray Speyside Tourism was established in 2014 to deliver the Strategy for Tourism Development in Moray, but there is still much more work to do - that work will now be taken forward by Visit Moray Speyside.

Without Visit Moray Speyside fighting for our area, all of the good work carried out since 2014 will have been in vain.

I did not vote, or I voted No! Can I ‘opt-out’ of the Tourism BID?

No. The Tourism BID is the result of a legally constituted and independently operated ballot of tourism businesses in Moray Speyside.

The ballot followed a widespread consultation which took place over an extended period of time. Numerous printed communications were sent directly to eligible businesses inviting them to get involved, to take part and to express their views in a democratic exercise.

A comprehensive online and offline marketing and engagement campaign, in addition to a programme of telephone calls and visits to eligible businesses ensured that business owners had the opportunity to express their views and to take part in the ballot.



How Can I Get Involved?

The easiest and most effective way is to talk to us, tell us your priorities and tell us what your business needs. You can make sure we have up-to-date and accurate contact details for you (especially an email address) as this will ensure that we can keep you up to date with opportunities such as press and blogger activity, travel trade initiatives, business support events and so on.

Once you've paid your levy invoice, you (or a representative from your business) can apply to become a 'member' of the Tourism BID. This entitles you to attend company meetings (like an AGM), to vote on key issues and to help determine future strategy.

I Won’t Pay the Levy – What are you going to do about it?

We would much rather you talked to us about why you don't want to pay your Levy invoice rather than simply not paying.

Payment of the Tourism BID levy is however, legally enforceable. If you don't your levy invoice within the required timescale and don't speak to us, this will result in your account being passed to Sheriff's Officers for collection. At this point, you will not only be liable for the levy itself but also a premium which is added to cover the cost of the Sheriff's Officers.


I have Closed My Business – Do I Still Have to Pay?

The Tourism BID Levy is payable by every tourism business in Moray Speyside with a rateable value of £2,000 or more.

If your business has closed down as a result of COVID-19, as long as you have de-registered your business with the Grampian Assessor / Moray Council, you will not be expected to pay the invoice.

I Can’t Pay, But I Want to Pay – What Can I Do?

If you are in financial difficulties or you believe you will not be able to pay your levy when it is due, please contact us and we can discuss and agree a payment plan. We believe the BID levy represents value for money, and is affordable - indeed, most businesses will pay no more than the equivalent of £1 per day.

You can pay your Levy invoice in two parts, with half falling due within 28 days of the invoice arriving, the remainder due on 1st October.


Why Are You Issuing Levy Invoices in a Global Crisis?

We have held off sending the invoices as long as we can, but we are legally required to issue them.

BID Levy invoices were due to be issued on the 1st April 2020, but with the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic we asked Moray Council not to do so. Now that tourism businesses are permitted to reopen, Moray Council will issue invoices on behalf of Visit Moray Speyside Ltd in early August.

Instructions on the invoice state that payment must be paid in full within 14 days, but we have extended this to 28 days.

You can also choose to pay half your invoice now and the remainder on 1st October.

If you think you will have difficulty paying your BID levy invoice, please do contact us

You can pay Direct Debit if you have authority to solely operate your bank account – just call Moray Council on 01343 563142. If more than one signatory is required for the bank account, or if the account is with a non-UK, bank, you can obtain a direct debit instruction from the Moray Council website: http://www.moray.gov.uk/downloads/file88355.pdf

Is This Even Legal?

Yes, the process for creating a Tourism Business Improvement District (like any Business Improvement District) is laid down in legislation.

The legal basis upon which a Business Improvement District can be introduced is as prescribed in The Business Improvement Districts (Scotland) Regulations 2007 as follows: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2007/202/contents/made - It is this legislation which details the process by which the consultation and BID project was developed and delivered.

The basis upon which the levy can be legally charged is as laid out in The Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 (Business Improvement Districts Levy) Order 2007 - https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2007/772/contents/made



* Registered as businesses with Moray Council and having a Rateable Value (RV) of £2,000 or more.

Voluntarily Operated organisations are not within scope of Tourism BID but are encouraged to ‘opt-in’.

Embrace Elgin City Centre BID levy payers are not included in the Tourism BID. They can ‘opt-in’ to the Tourism BID .