Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Tourism chiefs rally opposition to plans for a visitor levy before official consultation comes to an end

09 Dec 2022 5 minute read
Adrian Greason-Walker, Wales Tourism Alliance’s policy advisor.

Tourism businesses are being urged to show their opposition to Welsh Government plans to introduce a visitors levy, before an online consultation on the proposals closes next Tuesday.

Organisation representing the tourism industry are also urging the Welsh Government to engage in closer communication with trade bodies and businesses over the plans for the levy and other changes planned for the sector.

The urgent call was made by Adrian Greason-Walker, Wales Tourism Alliance’s policy advocate and Val Hawkins, chief executive of Mid Wales Tourism, an independent organisation that represents nearly 600 tourism and hospitality businesses and organisations across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.

The Government’s plans to give local authorities across Wales the power to introduce a discretionary visitor levy and proposals to change the threshold for self-catering accommodation for tax purposes and a proposed statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation in Wales has drawn the opposition of a significant number of industry insiders over the past year.

Strength of feeling

Mr Greason-Walker appealed to tourism businesses to show the Welsh Government the strength of feeling that had been expressed to the WTA against the proposed visitor levy in their online responses.

“We have entered a far more economically challenging period than has been seen over the last 20 years,” he said. “The Welsh Government’s own Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment highlights the severe economic conditions that tourism businesses are currently facing.

“As we know from the very recent past, the economic tail of a recession is long and this time the effects of inflation and rising costs will only exacerbate the position.

“We have already asked if the Welsh Government will abandon the proposals if the majority of respondents to the consultation say they don’t want the tourism tax.”

He went on to say that it was also “deeply regrettable” that legitimate self-catering businesses were being caught up in the second homes issue.

“We will now see seismic changes to the way self-catering accommodation is assessed for property taxation in Wales,” he added.

The changes will see the number of days a self-catering property must be available to let in a year rise from 140 to 252 and the days it is actually let increase from 70 to 182.

Council tax premium

Local authorities will have the powers to triple the council tax premium to 300% for self-catering properties that do not meet the new criteria.

Opposition from WTA and others, including 400 responses from the industry, seemed to have been largely ignored by the Welsh Government, said Mr Greason-Walker

On the question of statutory licensing of all visitor accommodation, Mr Greason-Walker said the only way a visitor tax would work would be if local authorities were able to identify every tourism accommodation provider in their area.

A registration scheme, rather than a difficult to manage licensing scheme, would ensure a level playing field, although some local authorities were questioning whether enough tax would be raised to cover staffing costs.

Rowland Rees-Evans, MWT Cymru’s chairman, said he and others had questioned the Welsh Government about why it had not conducted a proper impact assessment on the tourism tax proposal, but there had been no answer.

Wider impact

Mrs Hawkins expressed concern about the wider impact of the Welsh Government’s new legislative proposals on town centres, shops, cafes and attractions whose income is topped up by visitor spend.

“These proposed changes could impact local jobs and future employment prospects for young people if they result in fewer visitors to Mid Wales,” she warned.

Rebecca Evans, Welsh Government Minister for Finance and Local Government and Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru Designated Member, jointly launched the government’s consultation in September.

Writing for Nation.Cymru, they said the proposed levy is about “sustainability and fairness”.

They added: “Our vision is to grow tourism for the good of Wales. A visitor levy will contribute to sustainable, fair tourism – with economic growth coexisting with environmental sustainability.”

“0We want visitors to know that their contribution could make a big difference in supporting the destinations they love and enjoy.

“A small charge wouldn’t be unique to Wales. If someone has been on holiday to Greece or France, to the Netherlands or New Zealand – or to any of more than 40 countries around the world who have visitor levies – they will have paid a small charge to help keep those places attractive to visit. They may not even have noticed paying it.

“And while Wales may be the first place in the UK to introduce such a levy, we do not believe it will be the last. Increasingly the UK nations look to be outliers in not asking tourists to pay a small charge to support the areas they are visiting.

“A levy will put Wales on the same standing as other world class tourist destinations. So why not Wales?”


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

12 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 month ago

“an independent organisation that represents nearly 600 tourism and hospitality businesses” is a good example of an entirely contradictory sentence. Independent of whom? Certainly not the vested interests of profit, it certainly is not independent of that nor the people who see Cymru as nought but a resource with which they cause for their own entirely selfish ends. The Nation does itself and its readers an injustice by (accidentally, I am sure) perpetuating the lie that these “independent organisations”, “think tanks”, “lobbying groups” etc are unpolitical groups of reasonable people that represent the plucky entrepreneurs when they are nought but… Read more »

Ieuan Evans
Ieuan Evans
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Jones

So true

Cynan again
Cynan again
1 month ago

So Adrian Greasy-Wan-ker lobbies his allies to respond in the consultation stage then asks if plans will be shelved if the majority of respondents oppose it.
1. This is not just about tourist businesses. It’s about adequate infrastructure during tourist season. An issue which affects all the people of Cymru, not just tourist businesses.
2. The proposed levies are very modest.
3. Other places in the disUK don’t seem to have this level of whining.
4. Bombing the consultation with mass coordinatedopposition is the opposite of democracy Mr Sleazy-Waffler

Lindsey Glen Dobie
Lindsey Glen Dobie
1 month ago
Reply to  Cynan again

I agree entirely. I noticed, that in this morning’s press (can’t remember which paper sorry) that even Manchester is proposing to introduce a tourist levy (I think they called it). Devon and Cornwall, plus the Lake District are too. It makes complete sense really, why should local residents have to fund, through Council taxes, the facilities needed to accommodate the vast numbers of tourists that seem to be coming. Not to mention the piles of litter they jettison from their cars as they pass through an area. Someone has to clear up after them.

G Horton-Jones
G Horton-Jones
1 month ago

Rental for tourism used to be based on a 15 week season per annum this is now being portrayed by letting agents as a potential 25 week season
Any rental for tourism cancels the use of that property for year round occupation this is in breach of planning consent which is the underlying basis of planning consent for housing development
Rental for tourism should be subject to a time limited llicence granted by Rent Smart Cymru

Geraint
Geraint
1 month ago

Tourism is important, but it is worth remembering that all the extra costs that tourists create from the provision of extra car parks, extra litter collections, policing for events, traffic jams and accidents due to the extra people moving in and out of the area, big increases in the uses of A&E services to name just a few of the impacts are mainly paid for by the ratepayers who live in those localities. Many of these tax payers receive no benefit at all from this sector of the economy so why should visitors not make a very small contribution to… Read more »

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
1 month ago

Meanwhile, just over the border, in England…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-63915985

Manchester is to introduce a “tourist tax” for people making overnight stays in the city.

Some 74 hotels and guesthouses have signed up to the scheme, which will see people pay an extra £1 per night.

It comes after accommodation providers voted to set up a body called Manchester Accommodation Business Improvement District (ABID).

The idea is to help boost the tourist economy as the city recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

John Williams
John Williams
1 month ago

In effect they’re arguing that they can’t compete on a level playing field, given that tourist taxes are so common across continental Europe – tantamount to asking to be subsidised by taxpayers

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago

So, are the tourism chiefs okay with local people paying higher rates of tax to pay for these services, including those who work within the tourism industry?

Because one way or another, these services have to be paid for and the costs for maintaining them are likely to increase substantially.

Last edited 1 month ago by SundanceKid
Hywel
Hywel
1 month ago

I would encourage everyone to complete the survey as a counterbalance to these negative groups.
I have just done so – it’s quite long, but straightforward, and it’s in all our interests as tax and council tax payers to spread the load of infrastructure and facilities’ costs to the visitors that use them.

Gareth Westacott
Gareth Westacott
1 month ago

Who is this Adrian Greeson Walker? Is he Welsh? Does he have the interests of the Welsh people at heart. Who does he represent? Most of the people who benefit from tourism in Wales are English colonists. Who owns the pubs, the hotels, the Guest Houses, etc? Very few are Welsh people.

Dave
1 month ago

I pay a tourist tax every time i book into a french hotel,,so no issues.

Our Supporters

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