Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

First Minister candidates urged to commit to review of ‘damaging’ tourism policies

19 Feb 2024 4 minute read
Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles.

Emily Price

Tourism chiefs have urged the two candidates hoping to become Wales’ First Minister to commit to a review of the “damaging” policies currently affecting Welsh tourism.

Industry representatives say they want “action” and not “sweet words” from the Labour leadership hopefuls.

The Wales Tourism Alliance – which represents over 6000 businesses in Wales – has sent an open letter to Jeremy Miles and Vaughan Gething calling for fresh commitments to the struggling sector.

It has been co-signed by North Wales Tourism, Mid Wales Tourism and Visit Pembrokeshire – Wales’s three main destination management companies.

As well as representatives from regional marketing organisations, different types of accommodation, attractions and language schools, the letter is also signed by the Welsh Retail Consortium, the Farmers Union of Wales and the Country Landowners Association.

Overwhelmed 

Tourism bosses say they have been faced with a flood of policy changes over the last two years and small businesses have become overwhelmed by the number of new regulations and costs.

Suzy Davies, Chair of the WTA said: “It is important that the new First Minister understands that tourism is an eco-system as well as an industry. It is a joint effort by everyone who shares their part of the world with visitors, and who subsequently share the benefits.

“The co-signatories to this letter reflect this wider understanding, and that tourism remains a prime economic driver in so many parts of Wales.

“If you target one sector, the effects ripple out beyond the immediate focus and affect other businesses, not just on the high street, but laundries, timber yards, fabricators, landscapers, printers, solicitors, accountants, heritage properties, conference facilities, events management, skills development, education providers and – of course – local food and drink producers.

“All the signatories to the letter represent areas of activity which will see Welsh Government budget cuts this year at a time when their members are also facing other Made-in-Wales challenges on top of UK and global pressures. The competitive disadvantages for an industry currently dependent on the domestic market are obvious.

The letter calls on the education minister and the economy minister to consider am urgent review of business rate relief, the 182-day rule, council tax premiums, planning restrictions and specific changes to fire and waste collection regulations.

Ms Davies added: “We also ask them to consider, within that, the additional effect of proposed policies such as statutory licensing, tourism tax and changes to the school year. We would expect any such review to include consideration of the knock-on effects across that eco-system, for example, on retail and farming.

“We also ask for action, in the first 100 days, on the 182-day rule. This treats bona fide local holiday let businesses as second homes, for the purposes of local taxation, if they cannot show 182-days occupancy.

“This means they are denied business rate relief and required to pay domestic council tax instead, and at increasing levels of premium in some local authority areas.

“However they will still be subject to the same costs and regulatory requirements, including national tax, as other businesses, which is both unique and legally incoherent.

“We have no argument with Welsh Government trying to manage the number of second homes – but these businesses are not second homes. The new First Minister will be asked either to change the threshold or accept the need for some exceptions in the most serious cases of injustice.

“We are looking for a First Minister who sees the benefits of a well-being industry for Wales, and understands that good relationships need more than sweet words”

Support

The Welsh Conservatives say the sector needs more support following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shadow Minister for Culture, Tourism & Sport, Tom Giffard said “Tourism is integral to the Welsh economy – 1 in 7 jobs in Wales rely on the tourism and hospitality sector, which has had a particularly difficult time in recent years off the back of Covid.

“Now is the time to support the sector, but instead we’ve seen a slew of anti-tourism measures from the Welsh Labour Government, seemingly intent on driving tourists away, rather than growing our economy.

“Our Welsh Conservative positive vision for tourism would invest in skills, infrastructure and marketing for our unique brand of tourism in Wales; rather than taxing it as Labour and Plaid have done.”

We invited both Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles to comment – but neither of them responded.


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago

Change nothing. These businesses make substantial profits whilst paying poverty wages and distorting local economies. Tourism related activity is fine as an added extra, the cherry on the cake, but should never be the bread and butter. Tourism should also be leveraged so that maximum local benefit is derived from it, and not just skivvy jobs. Thus, community enterprises, such as Y Pengwern in Llan Ffestiniog, Llety Arall in Caernarfon and homestay accommodation needs to be the way to go. That way local people derive maximum benefit from this often very destructive industry. The current system of regulating holiday lets… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Padi Phillips
Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas
1 month ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

You literally took the words out of my mouth well said Padi

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Put the pair of them in a VW camper and pack them off for a month’s camping pilgrimage around Gwynedd…

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.