Call for Wales to ‘show caution’ before turning itself into ‘tourist playground’ after visitor boom
Language campaigners have called for authorities in Wales to “show caution” before hurrying to expand provision for tourists.
The comments by Cylch yr Iaith follow a boom in the number of tourists visiting Wales this summer due to Covid restrictions on travel abroad.
According to the campaigners, it would be a “mistake” to rush to expand provision, as “over-tourism” could turn parts of Wales into “playgrounds and retirement zones”.
Howard Huws from Cylch yr Iaith said that the surge in the number of tourists this summer had been a “shock” as there was no “adequate provision for them”.
“The lesson of areas in other countries around the world is clear: trying to cater for visitor growth by expanding infrastructure and facilities leads to over-tourism, and destroying not just the exact visitor experience, but the foundation of and the texture of the indigenous community as well,” Howard Huws said.
“An increasing number of coastal and mountainous areas have reached the point of excess, and restrictions must be imposed if we are to prevent more areas from reaching that point. What is needed is to impose restrictions and tighten control, not expand infrastructure.”
He said that this expansion of facilities by local authorities included creating more car parks, expanding transport systems, intensifying services at the expense of local taxpayers, expanding holiday destinations, and creating new facilities and destinations.
“That would be a mistake. Expanding the infrastructure can only encourage and facilitate the rise of over-tourism, and intensify its side effects,” he said.
“Local authorities need to exercise caution and consideration. Tourism is a force that needs to be managed and directed carefully if we are to live with it.”
Cylch yr Iaith called for a range of measures to control over-tourism, including:
- Limiting the percentages of second homes
- Making the conversion of a dwelling into a second home subject to planning permission
- Closing legal loopholes that allow tax evasion
- Encouraging local enterprises that employ local people
- Regulating and taxing holiday accommodation
- Tightening of planning controls on tourist developments.
“Wales, especially the Welsh-speaking areas of the west, is already suffering from the effects of over-tourism,” Howard Huws said.
“This is most evident in the increase in second homes and house prices, in the growth of in-migration which is causing a decrease in the percentages of Welsh speakers, and in the poverty of tourist areas.
“These are signs that our areas are turning from places to live and work into playgrounds and retirement zones.
“In the face of increased visitor numbers, and because of pressure from the tourism trade, local authorities risk being intimidated into trying to cope with the situation by expanding the infrastructure to cater specifically for the increase.”
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