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Tourism sector calls for ministerial appointment to new cabinet

01 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Barry Island. Photo Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Representatives of the tourism industry in Wales are urging the new First Minister to appoint a minister or deputy minister for Tourism.

The Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA) says that a government-level representative is essential to represent the industry at a time it is the target of so many policies being made by Ministers (now Cabinet Secretaries) outside the Economy brief.

Dawn Bowden, MS for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, had served as Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism but was named as the new Minister for Social Care in Vaughan Gething’s first cabinet announced last month.

Mr Gething is also being urged to scrap the 182-day rule for owners of holiday lets in Wales.

Since April 2023 a property has needed to be made available to let for 252 days and occupied by guests on a commercial basis for 182 days in order to be eligible for business rates.

Threats

Suzy Davies, Chair of the WTA said: “Even working with previous Deputy Ministers it has been phenomenally difficult to get Welsh Government to act on threats to Welsh tourism, threats it professes to understand.

“Either it doesn’t understand, or it is prepared to accept the loss of people’s livelihoods as collateral damage for other policies which are yet to show a jot of success on their stated aims.

“Without a champion in government, we stand even less of a chance of securing a review of the cumulative impact of all these policies. We are starting to see that impact on local economies as tourism and hospitality businesses are reducing opening hours or closing altogether.

“We see the effect on communities as work in those businesses and their supply chains begins to dry up, without any obvious alternative local opportunities to use their skills.

“We’re also pushing hard for the 182-day policy to be dropped or exemptions to be created as it is so damaging. We offer parallel arguments for further exceptions to council tax premiums.

“Early indications are that the loss of professional self-catering operators – which are local businesses not second homes or casual lets – is not leading to a sudden availability of affordable accommodation.

“Properties are limited by planning conditions, too expensive, in the wrong place or unsuitable for permanent accommodation.

“While it is true that there will be a range of reasons why people chose to sell, it is also true that Welsh Government’s own most recent research shows that it is its own policies which are identified as the primary reason for loss of business confidence.

“As the former Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething as First Minister already has insight into what is happening to tourism and we ask for reassurance that he will bring that insight to bear across the whole of government. We hope for an early meeting.”

Tax relief

The WTA has also contacted Welsh MPs to ask for their support in resisting the proposed withdrawal of UK-level business tax reliefs, announced by the Chancellor without consultation.

In the Spring Budget, Jeremy Hunt announced that the furnished holiday lettings (FHL) tax regime was being abolished.

This move is intended to remove the current tax advantage for landlords who let short term furnished holiday properties over those who let out residential properties to longer term tenants.

The WTA says that this change will mean a new raft of additional costs for self-catering businesses on top of those arising from Welsh Government policies.


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Richard E
Richard E
8 days ago

Cymru needs a high profile governmental advocate for a responsible and sustainable tourism sector – whether from oversees or the other nations on these islands.

Galacia, Catalunia , Flanders and Sardinia all have them as do Slovenia and do the Cantons of Switzerland.

Environment focused and Community based leadership from the Wales Government is needed to develop local initiatives from local people – so we can move away from the mass caravan blight tourism and holiday home let’s so popular with Janet Finch Saunders and chums

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
8 days ago

WG putting off tourists and those who go on about toxic tourists. I have been told Brittany is much cheaper than Wales for hotels and quality restaurants.

Richard E
Richard E
8 days ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

I suggest you visit and judge for yourself my friend . Llydaw is a great place with great Celtic folk and a suppressed culture- but that’s about the only similarity tourism wise 😀

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
8 days ago
Reply to  Richard E

Go there often it’s the wife who told me.

Richard E
Richard E
8 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

Always listen to the other half mate ✔️
y gair ola 😀 pob tro

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