A ‘tourist tax’ across Argyll and Bute would help establish the region’s traditional music scene, according to a new report.

The study by experts at Newcastle University spells out how the musical heritage of the area – with its unique piping, fiddling and arts scenes - could be used to create sustained economic growth.

And one suggestion is a levy – set at around 2 per cent of room cost – for overnight visitors, which could be used to provide incentives for hoteliers and tour operators to improve what they offer in the area.

It is claimed the subsequent funds could also be used to help boost businesses and small and medium sized enterprises in the creative industries, supporting the potential development of new festivals, tours, trails and partnerships between musicians and communities.

Dr Simon McKerrell, senior lecturer in music at Newcastle University and co-author of the Traditional Music and the Rural Creative Economy in Argyll and Bute Mapping Report 2018, said there are bountiful benefits to be gained from the proposals.

He said: “Argyll and Bute has this wonderful musical heritage which goes back centuries and there is a lot of potential to grow its music scene.

“This wouldn’t just attract tourists to this beautiful part of the world, it would also bring in new people to live and work in the area, which is also important as the population in the area is declining.

“The things which make Argyll and Bute a key visitor attraction are also the things which make it a challenging area for small enterprises to set up, such as travel.”

Dr McKerrell added: “Our recommendations would mean that some of the challenges the area faces could be addressed quite easily through collectivising resources and reducing overheads for festival insurance, ticketing, policing, fencing, facilities, and so on, which in most cases would be cost neutral for the council, and with the potential to really boost the economy.”

The report outlines several areas of improvement to potentially develop cultural tourism around traditional music, including "providing a distinct and dynamic thread through which to market Argyll and Bute", "subsidising professional musicians", "expanding smaller events and festivals creating a regional network", and what it calls the “more radical idea” of a visitor tax.

It is suggested that a ‘tourist tax’ has been successful in other areas where attracting visitors plays a key role in the local economy, however, tourists’ willingness to pay could prove a serious stumbling block.

The report states that Argyll and Bute has "an underdeveloped cultural tourism potential” as the leading council area in Scotland for tourism employment, with 17 per cent of the population employed in the industry, according to VisitScotland.

With the population of Argyll and Bute declining, and a large proportion of workers in creative occupations, but related businesses mainly being concentrated in big cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh, researchers have argued that change is needed.

The findings of the report will be discussed at Dunoon Burgh Hall on Thursday, January 17, as part of an event organised by Help Musicians and CHArts Argyll and the Isles.