‘Bully boy’ Welsh Ministers’ banned from leading tourist attraction
One of Wales oldest family attractions has banned Welsh Government Ministers as a protest against proposals to change the rules governing self-catering holiday accommodation and plans to introduce a tourist tax.
Ministers have been told they are not welcome at ‘Dan Yr Ogof’ – The National Showcaves Centre for Wales and a sign is being displayed in the caves ticket office window blaming the government’s tourism policies for the ban.
The Welsh Government is proposing to give councils the powers to add a tax on overnight stays in their part of the country – saying it can ease pressure on tourism communities and help pay for additional services – but says the introduction of a tax is “years” away.
New measures are also being introduced to determine if self-catering holiday accommodation operators qualify for business rate relief.
Under the proposals, the number of days a self-catering business must be open will increase to 252 days a year (an 80% increase.) and the property must then be let out for 182 days an increase of 150%.
At present to be classed as a business in Wales, self-catering operators have to be open for holiday bookings for 140 days a year, and their properties must be let for 70 days a year.
Surveys conducted by the Wales Tourism Alliance suggest that only of self-caterers in Wales will be able to reach this figure, potentially forcing closures and causing redundancies.
Ashford Price, Chairman of Dan Yr Ogof said: “I have had the pleasure of meeting two First Ministers for Wales at the Caves.
“The late Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones on more than one occasion and they were always genuinely interested in tourism.
“However, the present Welsh Government with their anti-tourism policies namely the 182-day rule, the proposed tourism tax, and planned alterations to the main summer holidays clearly show that they do not understand or care that their actions will decimate seasonal tourism businesses in Wales.
“Thirty per cent of self-catering businesses are forecast to close, with a resulting loss of 1400 Welsh jobs.
“Is it any wonder that some operators in Welsh tourism are now holding back on any future investment in Wales?
“With the resultant job losses, soon the only growth area in Welsh tourism will be the growth in redundant tourism operators claiming ‘benefits.
“The Welsh Government have used ‘bully boys’ tactics to bulldoze through these new laws, ignoring tourism opposition and leading experts advising against these new proposals.
“For the Welsh Government to take these actions, especially during a cost-of-living crisis, and a recession starting this Autumn that according to the Bank of England will last for over a year and with inflation rising to 13% next year is complete economic madness!
“80% of all visitors to Wales are English and many of these new policies will be seen as anti-English by the English media.
“Wales will pay a heavy price if our main tourism market refuses to pay the proposed tourism tax, and vote with their feet and go elsewhere”.
“In a recession people will be looking for ‘bargain holidays’ not holiday regions where you pay a tax for visiting them.”
In parallel with the rate relief changes, from next year councils in Wales will be given the power to charge up to an extra 300% council tax on self-catering businesses that fail to get their properties let for 182 days.
There are approximately 8000 self-catering properties in Wales, generating approximately £134 million every year for the Welsh economy and sustaining approximately 4700 jobs.
The Welsh Government said that their changes would stop second home owners from classifying homes as businesses because they are let out for one fifth of the year.
“As part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, we are committed to taking immediate action to address the impact of second homes and unaffordable housing in communities across Wales, using the planning, property and taxation systems,” Economy Minister Rebecca Evans said.
“As we continue to progress the package of measures and drawing on the latest evidence base, we will keep under constant review the whole range of levers available to use and how they may be deployed most effectively to meet our policy objectives and avoid any unintended consequences.”
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