Airbnb back Welsh Government plans for tourism tax in Wales in bid to tackle ‘overtourism’
Airbnb have said that they back Welsh Government plans for a tourism tax in Wales, and wanted to work with them to develop the policy in a bid to tackle “overtourism”.
A spokesperson for Airbnb, who allow travellers to book hundreds of properties in Wales, told Nation.Cymru that they already had already signed more than 1,000 regulatory and tax agreements globally and were used to collecting applicable taxes around the world.
“We support plans for a tourist tax in Wales and welcome the opportunity to work with Welsh leaders to make it a success, as we have done already by helping generate nearly £2.5 billion in tourist tax revenue in approximately 30,000 jurisdictions around the world,” the spokesperson said.
Last month, Airbnb launched The Great Rebalance of European Travel, a series of commitments to work with communities across the region to ensure that the return of travel “is safe, sustainable and benefits everyone”.
The spokesperson said that the aim was spreading the economic benefits of tourism to more people and preventing the return of the overtourism phenomenon.
The First Minister announced on Tuesday that he would explore the introduction of a tourism tax in Wales. The Welsh Conservatives however have spoken out sternly against the idea.
Speaking in the Senedd on Tuesday, the First Minister said that “a tourism tax, properly done, will benefit the industry because what it will allow those local authorities to do is to invest in the things that make those areas attractive to tourists in the first place”.
He added that he looked forward to bringing forward proposals for debate in the Senedd on a tourism tax.
He added that it was “an idea […] that has taken root, and very successfully, right across the globe, and has been put forward by a series of local authorities of very different political persuasions in recent times”.
He said that “at the moment it is those local resident populations who pay for everything. They pay for the toilets, they pay for the car parks, they pay for the local museum, they pay for the local festival—anything that is put there to attract people into the area, it is those local residents who bear the cost in full.
“A tourism levy, charged on people who choose to go to those areas, in a very modest way, when you add it all up, could be a significant opportunity for local authorities to invest in the conditions that make tourism a success.”
The leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, however, said that he was opposed to a tourism tax and that “families, workers and businesses across Wales need support, not more taxes”.
“Labour’s plans to introduce a tourism tax and a potential income tax rise will be devastating for hardworking Welsh people,” he said.
“Tourism is a major employer in Wales, creating hundreds of thousands of much-needed jobs, and a tax on holiday-makers would damage local economies and cost livelihoods.
“Instead of economic recovery, Labour seem intent on clobbering Wales with a menu of tax rises at a time when they should be doing everything they can to keep money in people’s pockets.
“The priority for ministers should be to ensure the tax burden in Wales is kept as low as possible to encourage economic growth, and help families, workers and businesses get on the road to recovery.”