Manchester moves ahead with tourist tax as Welsh Government consults on own levy
Visitors to Manchester will pay a tourist tax from next April, as the Welsh Government consults on a similar move in Wales.
Business leaders said that the move would bring Manchester “into line with European counterparts”.
Some 74 hotels and short-stay serviced apartments in Manchester will be charging the extra £1 fee which the Manchester Accommodation Business Improvement District says will “improve the visitor experience” to the city centre and “support the growth of the visitor economy”.
A referendum was held among hoteliers on whether or not to implement the fee, with four in five voting in favour.
Bev Craig, the leader of Manchester City Council, told the Manchester Evening News that they were “exciting times for Manchester city centre”.
“Seizing that opportunity means ensuring as many rooms as possible are full all year round. We believe that targeted investment through the Manchester ABID will help support the accommodation sector – which plays such a vital role in supporting jobs in our city and adding to its overall vibrancy – to thrive,” he said.
The Welsh Government’s own consultation on what it is calling a ‘visitor levy’ closes next week.
“These proposals are about preparing for the future. Our intention is to bring about a sense of shared responsibility between residents and visitors, to protect, and invest in, our local areas,” Minister for Finance and Local Government Rebecca Evans said.
“By asking visitors – whether they have travelled from within Wales or from further afield – to make a small contribution towards maintaining and enhancing the place they are visiting, we will encourage a more sustainable approach for tourism.”
Proposals for a visitor levy have been progressed through Welsh Government’s Co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru.
“While Wales may be the first place in the UK to introduce such a levy, we do not believe it will be the last – as we have seen recently, a visitor levy may soon be introduced in Edinburgh so Wales is not alone,” Plaid Cymru Designated Member Cefin Campbell said.
“We want to continue to see a thriving tourism industry in Wales. It is vital we have sustainable, responsible tourism that works both for visitors and for the communities they are visiting.
“Should local authorities decide to implement a visitor levy, it could make a real difference in communities across Wales to help develop and protect local services and infrastructure.
“We welcome all views in understanding what would work well for Wales and encourage everyone to contribute to the consultation.”
But the Welsh Conservatives have said that plans for a tourism tax are an “act of economic self-harm in order to virtue signal”.
Writing in Conservative Home, Senedd Member Tom Giffard said that Labour “effectively uses Wales as its laboratory for bad ideas” to “churn out a steady stream of disastrous policies in order to chase headlines”.
The approach was a “precursor to how Labour would govern from Westminster” aimed not at “enhancing the tourism sector, but of taxing it to oblivion,” he said.
“1-in-7 jobs in Wales rely on tourism,” he said. “That’s nearly 200,000 livelihoods that will be put at risk by this decision. Imagine this policy rolled out across the UK: the decimation of our country’s reputation as a worthwhile place to visit.”
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.