‘Growing feeling Wales is anti-English’ warns industry boss over tourism tax
A tourism tax proposed as part of the Plaid Cymru and Welsh Government cooperation deal would feed into a “growing feeling” that Wales is “anti-English” a tourism boss has warned.
Ashford Price, secretary of the Welsh Association of Visitor Attractions, said that the tourism tax could “damage” the tourism industry in Wales as tourists would visit other parts of the UK without a tax instead.
The Welsh Government has said that a tourism tax would raise revenue for local authorities enabling them to manage services and infrastructure which makes tourism a success.
But Ashford Price warned: “From the many English contacts I have made in tourism over the years, I gather there is now a growing feeling by some in England that the Welsh Government is anti-English, and also anti-tourism.
“In many Welsh regions, 80% of their visitors come from England. Can Wales really afford to lose this market?”
Ashford Price, who is the owner of the National Showcaves Centre for Wales, added: “Wales has much to lose if this tax is implemented. Surely we need to encourage tourists to come to Wales, not tax them for coming!” he said.
“The Sun, Express and Mail newspapers are already having a field day, dubbing the proposed Welsh tourism tax a ‘tax on the English wanting to visit Wales’.
He added that Scotland had already looked at the idea of a tourism tax and decided against it for these reasons.
“In the end, they all have abandoned the idea owing to the potential damage to their tourism industries,” he said.
“If this Welsh tourism tax does come about, how many of our potential customers will simply vote with their feet and go to Devon, Ireland, or Scotland rather than pay yet another tax at a time when they are trying to cope with a personal cost of living crisis?”
Tourism provides a substantial economic contribution to Wales with tourism-related expenditure reaching more than £5bn annually in 2019.
A tourism tax would raise revenue for local authorities enabling them to manage services and infrastructure which makes tourism a success, according to Labour and Plaid.
In October, the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru have confirmed a consultation on proposals for a local visitor levy will launch in autumn 2022.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said a levy would enable destinations in Wales to be enjoyed for generations to come.
Plaid Cymru’s Designated Member Cefin Campbell MS said that the “measure will help support a sustainable rather than an extractive tourism sector”.
But the leader of the Welsh Conservatives has hit out at the proposed tax as a “nationalist dog whistle”.
Andrew RT Davies, MS for South Wales Central, was responding to a tweet from Kate Nicholls, CEO UK Hospitality in which she said: “Welsh hospitality has seen biggest fall in revenue over pandemic and a far slower rate of recovery.
“A tourist tax would deter visitors to Wales and with businesses already paying £1 in every £3 earned in tax make many unviable. Need strategy to boost demand turbo charge recovery”.
In a quote tweet, Mr Davies said: “The Labour/Plaid tourist tax plan is a nationalist dog whistle that will put a roadblock on our road to recovery. After a battering from Labour’s restrictions, now Welsh hospitality is facing a battering from the separatists.”
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