Language campaigners back plans for introduction of tourist tax in Wales
Welsh language campaigners have welcomed plans for a tourism tax on visitors to Wales, saying it could help to fund essential services for communities.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith was the first organisation to call for a tourism tax in Wales almost fifty years ago.
The tax would have raised many millions of pounds for our communities by now, but instead, it says “our communities have declined”, with services disappearing and unemployment and house prices rising.
The Association will encourage Local Authorities to use the money that comes from the tax to invest in infrastructure.
They say the money should be prioritised for the local economy and investment in housing for local people, rather than being spent on improving infrastructure for tourism.
The Welsh Government has revealed that under the proposals, tourists will pay a small fee if they are staying overnight in hotels, Airbnbs or bed and breakfasts, similar to charges already in place in more than 40 destinations such as Greece, France, Amsterdam, Barcelona and the US state of California.
A survey published by the government today revealed that two thirds of Welsh residents living in holiday areas back the tourism tax.
More than 1,000 people, including tourist businesses, responded to a public consultation about how the levy should be brought in. Only 13% of respondents said tourists should not contribute towards the cost of maintaining areas they stay in.
But members of the tourism industry have said now is not the time to impose the tax, in case it deters visitors who are already cutting back on holidays due to higher bills.
Robat Idris, Chairman of the Association, said: “A tax on tourism is not a new thing in other parts of the world, and there is evidence that such a tax does not harm the industry.
“Tourism must be sustainable and suitable for our communities, instead of pushing them aside and damaging them. If the tax is used correctly, it can be part of the solution to strengthen our communities in the tourist areas.
“We ask local authorities to start planning straight away on how they will spend the money.”
The amount that visitors could be charged has not yet been decided, but finance minister Rebecca Evans previously said it would be a “small contribution” that would go towards maintaining local amenities such as beaches, pavements, parks, toilets and footpaths.
Legislation for the introduction of the levy will be put to the Senedd within this government term.
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