Tourism tax ‘ultra-left-wing policy idea straight from the Morning Star’ says Conservative Senedd Member
The tourism tax proposed as part of the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru’s cooperation agreement is an “ultra-left-wing policy idea straight from the middle pages of the Morning Star,” according to a Conservative Senedd Member.
Tom Giffard said that in other parts of the world, such as Venice, a tourism tax had been introduced as a means of attempting to curb visitor numbers, adding that it would have the same impact in Wales.
A proposal put forward by the Conservatives in the Senedd called on the Welsh Government to abandon “damaging proposals” for a tourism tax in Wales.
“So, they say that the introduction of a tourism tax would have no impact at all on visitor numbers to some of our key tourism locations in Wales,” Tom Giffard said.
“But I thought Ministers might be keen to hear the latest from Venice, one of the world’s leading tourism destinations, that has now said it’s introducing a tourism tax to dissuade further visitors from attending.
“Yes, you heard that right; it turns out that extra taxes for visitors mean fewer people want to visit.
“We also know that, from my questioning of both the First Minister and the finance Minister, that there is no assurance at all that such a tax will lead to any additional money being spent on improving tourism offers in these areas.
“The Government either cannot or will not be able to prevent councils from deleting existing tourism budgets and replacing them with this tax instead.”
The Welsh Government responded that tourism levies were common place across the world, with revenues used to the benefit of local communities, tourists and businesses, which in turn help make tourism sustainable and successful.
“Tourism levies, of course, as we’ve heard, are very commonplace across the world, with most countries in Europe applying them,” Minister for Finance and Local Government, Rebecca Evns, said.
“They’re proportionate by design and they represent a small percentage of the overall bill for consumers. There’s little evidence that tourism levies have a negative economic impact. They’re used to benefit those local areas and communities that choose to use them.
“The powers will be discretionary, empowering local authorities to make their own judgments and decide what’s best for their communities.
“Of course, I welcome all views and evidence as we continue to work collaboratively with our partners to help shape these proposals. A major consultation will take place later this year, and that will be an opportunity for all views to be heard and considered.
“Through this process we’ll design a tax that’s aligned to our core tax principles, and one that works for communities in Wales.”
Plaid Cymru’s Mabon ap Gwynfor argued that the Conservative position was inconsistent as Tory-run councils were introducing tourism charges in England.
“Conservatives run the Isle of Wight, and they are proposing a tourism tax for day-trippers,” he said. “The Tory-run Bath and North East Somerset Council have repeatedly called for a tourist tax for Bath.
“You complain that it would make Wales more uncompetitive. Well, Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds introduced a tourism charge last year. By your own logic, this should result in all visitors going to nearby Chipping Norton or Cirencester, but no, Bourton enjoyed a packed Easter again this year.”
“The principle has already been accepted in any case. Holiday destinations across the UK have varying seasonal charges, for instance in the car parks, with car parking charges more expensive in the visitor season and cheaper in the winter. This is nothing more than a levy on visitors.
“Why is it that the Conservatives think it’s okay for the private sector to practise this policy, but not Government?”
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