Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Senedd rejects calls to scrap tourism tax

23 May 2024 4 minute read
A queue to the top of Yr Wyddfa. Picture by Gareth James (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Chris Haines ICNN Senedd reporter

The Senedd roundly rejected Conservative calls to ditch plans for a tourism tax.

Laura Anne Jones led a debate on the Welsh Government’s plans to roll out a visitor levy – a small fee for visitors staying overnight in tourism accommodation – from 2027.

The Tory MS warned the tax could make people think twice about holidaying in Wales, which would have a significant impact on tourism and hospitality businesses.

Ms Jones also raised concerns about the threshold for self-catering properties to qualify for business rates increasing from 70 to 182 days.

Calling for a reduction to 105 days, she warned the target has been difficult to achieve for many self-catering businesses, leaving owners at risk of 300% council tax premiums.

‘Economic hit’

Ms Jones argued Visit Wales should be made independent of the Welsh Government.

The shadow culture secretary said: “The current Visit Wales system is not working and is struggling to attract people to Wales.” Ms Jones, who represents South East Wales, told the chamber a tourism barometer published in February showed visitor numbers in decline since 2022.

Raising concerns about a significant hit to the Welsh economy, she said international visitor spending was £515m in 2019, which tumbled to £391m in 2022.

She accused the Welsh Government of “attacking” the tourism sector, saying ministers have nothing to offer besides empty words and ill-thought-out policies.

‘Ghost towns’

Luke Fletcher, for Plaid Cymru, stressed the importance of sustainability, raising concerns about communities becoming ghost towns in off-seasons.

The shadow economy secretary backed plans for a tourism tax because it would raise additional money to maintain attractions, streets and services.

Mr Fletcher argued a small levy would not deter visitors, raising Barcelona as an example, and he called for any money raised to be ring fenced for tourism.

He suggested a tourism levy will be rolled out elsewhere in the UK, with Manchester having brought in a £1-a-night charge which raised about £2.8m in its first year from April 2023.

The South Wales West MS urged the Welsh Government to restore rates relief for tourism businesses from 40% to 75% to take the pressure off the sector.

‘Level playing field’

Peter Fox said tourism businesses in his Monmouth constituency, which are separated by mere miles from competitors in England, want a level playing field across the border.

He warned: “Businesses are facing the impending tourism tax, additional waste charges, the highest business rates in the UK, and reduced non-domestic rates support.

“All of these are causing real concern and anxiety to so many businesses that are already finding things really difficult at the moment.”

Mr Fox, who led Monmouth council for more than a decade, said local authorities will use revenue raised by a tourism tax to meet other pressures such as social care and health.

“That’s what will happen, guaranteed,” he told the Senedd.

‘Ludicrous’

Janet Finch-Saunders accused Labour and Plaid Cymru of “smothering” Welsh tourism with rules and regulations, which are having a detrimental impact on the industry.

The Aberconwy MS described plans for a tourism tax as a “horrible” idea dreamt up in the “ludicrous” cooperation agreement between the two political parties.

Sam Rowlands, a fellow Tory, warned a tourism tax will make Wales less competitive within the UK and send an unwelcome message to would-be visitors.

But Plaid Cymru’s Cefin Campbell said tourist levies are commonplace around the world, pointing to Croatia, Greece, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain and the Caribbean.

“They haven’t crippled tourism in any of these countries,” said the Mid and West Wales MS. “Instead they’ve empowered destinations to offer a better visitor experience.”

‘Very modest’

Responding to the debate on May 22, Jeremy Miles said the best way to protect the sector is to ask visitors to make a very modest contribution to the costs of tourism.

Wales’ economy secretary said the letting criteria for self-catering properties was changed to ensure owners are making a fair contribution and maximise the use of properties.

Mr Miles, who came into post in March, highlighted the Welsh Government’s tourism strategy as he outlined his vision for a sustainable tourism sector.

Accusing the Tories of running Wales down, he said: “I do deplore the way in which we heard some speakers … compare Wales unfavourably with other tourist destinations.”

MSs voted 13-33 against the Tory motion, with Plaid Cymru’s amendments also falling.

The motion as amended by the Welsh Government was agreed, 24-22.


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
25 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jeff
Jeff
25 days ago

2019-2022, what in the world happened that could have dropped numbers so. Oh my oh my, what could it be. There must be a clue in world news.

Looks slightly better than average EU travel. (UN figs).

Adrian
Adrian
24 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

i’m pretty sure the pandemic, and the associated government restrictions, were well and truly over by 2022 and tourism has been in decline ever since. The Welsh headlines since then have been mostly about Welsh Government policies: blanket 20 mph speed limits, tourist tax, council tax premiums for 2nd homes (except Drakeford’s)…oh and the usual sprinkling of corruption of course.

64726746285028
64726746285028
23 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

An over-reliance on domestic visitors from an economy that voted to sanction itself is a problem affecting the industry across the UK outside of London.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
25 days ago

The small tourist tax will bring extra revenue for the councils to be able to maintain our tourist resorts to the best quality that will appeal to visitors. Our resorts are already better compared to the English resorts and with extra money will stay that way. We are all fed up with this UK English party (conservative) thinking they know better when their own resorts are such a mess. If they want to help hotel owners perhaps they will thinks about the 20% VAT they impose on all hotel stays, including in Wales, and deposit it in the UK treasury… Read more »

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
25 days ago

It is groundhog day again, just like other policies recently, as soon as you here rumours in the press you know it is arriving regardless of the ridiculous charade that is the public consultation which are never listened to anyway. More top down government knows best attitude. ‘Mr Fox, who led Monmouth council for more than a decade, said local authorities will use revenue raised by a tourism tax to meet other pressures such as social care and health. That’s what will happen, guaranteed,” he told the Senedd’. Of course this is going to happen, just like the second home/holiday… Read more »

A World 🌍 View
A World 🌍 View
25 days ago

I dont know if these folk ever travel far for work or holidays but if they travel to mainland Eurooe they will suprise suprise find that “ city tax “ and “ tourism tax “ are par for the course. I payed these taxes recemtly in Genevé & Nice plus San Remo These French, Swiss and Italian resorts are doing well and i noted no effect on tourism numbers. At a “ nstional park “ in the Maratiine Alps, again a small payment in specific hot spots was added. Tourism payments help preserve and protect No one opposes these –… Read more »

Blinedig
Blinedig
25 days ago

Indeed they should. Look at Bhutan. £78 per day to support sustainable and restricted tourism to preserve the environment. https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/asia/south-asia/bhutan-tourism-tax-sustainable-elitist-b2521957.html

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
25 days ago

The Senedd is a wise body. They have hardly ever put a foot wrong. That’s why they are so popular and expansion is viewed as necessary for even better Government.

Ricardo
Ricardo
25 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

As popular as the The ToryParty for sure ….😂 ?

Gareth
Gareth
25 days ago

The tourist tax seems to be working fine in England. Since April 2023 Manchester has charged £1 per room per night, on the 1st of July, Bournmouth Christchurch and Poole will charge a £2 levy per room per night, as voted for by local hoteliers. Why cant it work here, why dont our tourist industry get in touch with these people to ask for help and advice rather than just say it wont work.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
25 days ago

I believe Venice is the latest location to introduce a tourist tax and has seen no reduction in tourist numbers.

Anecdotally, the tourists I’ve spoken to recently have no issue with a tourist tax and seem happy to pay it.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
24 days ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

Everyone loves paying taxes!!! Thanks for that antedote Richard

Adrian
Adrian
24 days ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

Was Venice’s tourist trade in decline when the tax was introduced?

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
24 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

Venice reminds me so much of Llangadog. This proves if a tourist tax works in Venice it will be successful in Wales. QED

Katy
Katy
20 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

No it wasn’t, Venice introduced it to reduce tourism.

Adrian
Adrian
24 days ago

Tourism in Wales has been in decline over in recent years: long after the Covid nonsense finished. The comparisons to other places/regions/cities that already levy a tourist tax don’t seem to take into account whether those places are/were seeing a similar decline.

The argument against this tax is that Wales is in no position to be presenting more barriers to tourism. Of course, it’s possible that taxes raised will fund the tourist sector and make Wales a more attractive destination, but does anyone seriously think this (or any other) government will spend taxes prudently?

64726746285028
64726746285028
23 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

Perhaps the debate from the sector should focus on how the funds raised might be spent to better manage and develop the sector. A small levy that results in more visitors in more parts of Wales for more of the year, and the higher room rates that follow, clearly pays for itself.

Charles
Charles
24 days ago

I live in Gwynedd and support a tourist tax. The tourist use facilities that need to be maintained. Roads, toilets, paths, beaches etc. The tax will help reduce the burden on residents paying cou council tax as they have to put up with the inconvenience of tourists.
I would hope also that car parking charges will be dropped as they usually cost more than thay bring in and push visitor parking onto residential streets.

Kate
Kate
24 days ago

Tourists do pay tax in Wales, as VAT. 1.6 billion a year. If they are from London and South east they pay 30% of all u.k. tax ( workers too, not just bankers, who go to Tuscany ) so pay significantly towards Wales’s 20 Billion leveling up grant. Etc. They might be arseholes but I think they’re entitled to come, inconvenient or not. When here they contribute significantly towards the Welsh GDP. Croatia, Venice, Barcelona etc. have sunshine, and are relatively cheap. It’s no mystery why they can slap on a tax, paid by the hotel or whatever by the… Read more »

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
24 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Ah yes but Wales has glaw maen. How many other rourist hot spots have that?

CapM
CapM
24 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

If we had glaw maen we wouldn’t be bothered by any tourists.
Going out of the house would be a challenge though.

CapM
CapM
24 days ago
Reply to  Kate

“Venice, Barcelona etc. have sunshine, and are relatively cheap”

Based on sunshine and cost these would presumably be the Venice in Zimbabwe and the Barcelona in Bolivia.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
24 days ago
Reply to  Kate

For a long time tourists did not pay VAT or duty, they had to start paying it from 1 Jan 2021 and the right-wing press (telegraph, mail & express) have been campaigning to reinstate VAT- & duty-free shopping. There are plenty of reasons for tourism, not the weather. The geography of Cymru with the number of hills and mountains. The Severn bore – the world’s second highest tidal range. We get an awful lot of american and Japanese tourists (both are welcome along with those from elsewhere) thanks to the number of castles within Cymru. (Estimated are 400 ~ 1000+,… Read more »

Kate
Kate
23 days ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

They could claim a refund of vat when leaving at Heathrow say, on high end stuff, but not booze, petrol, dining out etc. If they could, where’s the 1.6 billion comes from?

Leonard Easter
Leonard Easter
23 days ago

Tax tax tax so much tax

Our Supporters

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