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Tourism tax will not help ‘welcome to Wales’ message says Wales Tourism Alliance chair

21 Apr 2022 3 minute read
Suzy Davies, Chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance

The chair of Wales Tourism Alliance has said that a tourism tax would not help in creating a “welcome to Wales” message that will attract tourists to the country.

Suzy Davies, a former Conservative Senedd Member, was giving evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee on Wales as a global tourist destination.

She said that “damaging headlines” in Wales’ press about the tourism tax and other policy announcements had not helped the industry during the tourism season.

“This message that we’re good to go and Wales is ready for business has been successful on one side – working with Visit Britain on this ‘good to go’ thing has been great,” she said.

“Of course Wales has been the subject of some damaging headlines internally because of various policy announcements that have been taken and run with in a very bad way by some of the local press such as tourism tax and stuff, which has not helped us during our higher period.”

She was asked by Aberconwy Conservative MP Robin Millar whether tourism tax should be introduced in Wales given that it tends to exist in other countries that have a lower rate of VAT.

“All tourism tax countries have much lower rates of VAT for tourism products in those countries,” she said. “10% Less generally, and a little bit on the actual product.

“But the prospect of a 20% VAT rate plus the tourism tax, however modest, is not great news for tourism in GB, let alone Wales.

“And again it does not help us with that ‘Wales really wants you, welcome to Wales’ message that we need to be pushing at the moment.”

Dave Chapman, the Executive Director for Wales for UK Hospitality, told the committee that high taxes were a problem for the industry coming on top of the Covid pandemic.

“If you put the combination of costs on top of two years where closures and restrictions have had a destabilising effect on the industry, it really shows the fragility of the industry at the moment,” he said.

“We have a whole cauldron of costs which are having an effect right across the sector.”

‘Growing feeling’

In October, the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru confirmed a consultation on proposals for a local visitor levy will launch in autumn 2022.

A tourism tax would raise revenue for local authorities enabling them to manage services and infrastructure which makes tourism a success, they said.

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said a levy would enable destinations in Wales to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Plaid Cymru’s Designated Member Cefin Campbell MS said that the “measure will help support a sustainable rather than an extractive tourism sector”.

But last week Ashford Price, secretary of the Welsh Association of Visitor Attractions, said that the tourism tax could “damage” the tourism industry in Wales as tourists would visit other parts of the UK without a tax instead.

“From the many English contacts I have made in tourism over the years, I gather there is now a growing feeling by some in England that the Welsh Government is anti-English, and also anti-tourism,” he said.

“In many Welsh regions, 80% of their visitors come from England. Can Wales really afford to lose this market?”


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Gareth
Gareth
5 months ago

Another Tory who believes that any action taken in Cymru, will have a negative effect on us, regardless that most tourist destinations on the planet employ this method of taxation, with no ill effect, on visitor numbers, but, if we were to introduce it, it will be the end of tourism in Cymru, according to them. They put us down at every opportunity, while trying to keeping us in the dis-united kingdom of little englanders.

Ann
Ann
5 months ago

The Reach regional / local papers and Facebook pages have really been pushing the tourism tax suggestion recently with headlines like “Will Mancunians continue to visit Wales if there is a tourism tax?” I wonder who is pulling their strings?

hdavies15
hdavies15
5 months ago
Reply to  Ann

That they still visit EU/Med destinations and cough up the local tourist tax is enough evidence that they don’t think it matters. Only obsessives who are seeking to talk Wales down fixate on this kind of thing. My only concern is that the proceeds of this revenue stream should be primarily deployed to keep tourist destinations clean, roads and other infrastructure maintained, not hijacked for use in other areas of spending.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago

41 countries around the world charge a tourist tax and if you’ve travelled abroad, you’ve likely paid one before. You may have never noticed it – as it’s sometimes worked into airline tickets or the taxes you pay at your hotel. The money from the tax goes to protecting natural resources and maintaining tourism facilities. The tax is becoming more popular as a tool to battle the growing issue of over-tourism.

Significantly, the person spouting this anti-Welsh rubbish is a former Conservative and Unionist Party minister. Clearly her loyalties lie elsewhere than Wales

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
5 months ago

Is Venice now racist against the English? They are charging a tenner a day.

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
5 months ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

It was 6 euros a day when I last went to Rome, some 3 years ago.
Is Rome racist against the English too?

I noticed that tourism in Rome was not affected by this tax.

JAD
JAD
5 months ago

Yes Wales can indeed “afford to lose that market”. The kind of tourist that complains about a tourist tax put in place to support local services isn’t really the kind of tourist Wales needs.

Cofid
Cofid
5 months ago
Reply to  JAD

Probably the same mentality as those who would rather clog local roads than show some willingness to support local communities by using pay and display car parks.

Dail y Goeden
Dail y Goeden
5 months ago

“The “measure will help support a sustainable rather than an extractive tourism sector”. Yes: as others have written today, we, living in Wales, want sustainability; worthwhile real jobs (including in hospitality), and a sensible and steady future. And if a small tax measure helps to this end, well – that’s tax as a public good. Fine. Lets use the science of economics, and ask those who say that this would “scare off” would-be tourists/ customers, or divert them to other destinations within the UK: is there actually an empirical evidence for this? (And if so, what is the size of… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago

Pretty daft to suggest an extra fiver somewhere would put people off coming to Wales…

Llinos
Llinos
5 months ago

And yet dozens of other countries have a tourism tax which does not adversely affect their tourism numbers.
Clearly this Tory is misusing her current position to make political statements in favour of her party. No wonder she lost her Senedd seat. She should lose her chair of the Welsh Toryism Alliance too

Dewi Davies
Dewi Davies
5 months ago

I’ve just returned from Zanzibar where the tourist tax is $1 per person per day.Place was packed and no one I met complained about paying it.I knew about it before I went and didn’t put me off.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
5 months ago

Treacherous Tory Suzi Davies forgets in her rant that her so-called party of low taxation has increased taxes 15 times in office, and thanks to her Whitehall English extremists who deny Wales still the devolution of the Crown Estate means £500m per annum leaves Wales that goes into the Monarchy & English Treasury coffers. Imagine the good that money could if spent in Wales ? Also, Whitehall still controls our water resource meaning trillions of gallons of our water is pumped from dams in Mid Wales into the English Midlands to benefit English water company shareholders & England’s Treasury. And… Read more »

The original mark
The original mark
5 months ago

Didn’t the tories tell us that once we had left the EU, we wouldn’t have to pay VAT?

Quornby
Quornby
5 months ago

“Visit Britain” in my experience is 95% about London and of course that suits the Tory mentality well. Umpteen countries charge a tourism dividend but according to this0 silly woman Wales is uniqually incapable of doing so.

Last edited 5 months ago by Quornby
Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
5 months ago

It hasn’t done countries like Australia any harm, people still flock to Bondi beach. Looking at the affects of tourism in West Wales over this Easter period has made me even more for some sort of tourism tax.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago

They are already paying a tourism tax…to the hotel, self-catering accommodation ,out door pursuits and restaurant owners from across the border who charge eye-watering prices for average services and pre-prepared frozen meals and pay poor wages. It is they who put people off coming to Wales… As promised we stopped for a bite to eat,a coffee and some ‘vox pop’ at the lakeside cafe by Traws power station, talk about value for money, great food and a location to rival anywhere in the world…I asked the staff Traws’ opinion of the proposed latest plans for more nuclear and the ‘word… Read more »

Maglocunos
Maglocunos
5 months ago

Utter nonsense! No-one can seriously maintain that Wales’s tourism industry is sustainable in its present form. There is a desperate need for a tourism tax to fund the sustainable development of the infrastructure of this important industry and to improve the offer for visitors and locals alike. Investment is needed in sustainable public transport within the National parks, more park and ride facilities, visitor centres, toilets etc., etc. The tonnes of litter, detrirus and piles of poo deposited in our areas of outstanding natural beauty don’t clear themselves away either. So come on, Llywodraeth Cymru, enable a nationwide tourist occupancy… Read more »

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
5 months ago

Those nice tourists defaecated up Snowdon the other week.
Who pays to clean that up? The local council tax payers?

Let’s have a tourist tax now, and that can pay for it.

Richard
Richard
5 months ago

SD dropping by her party was a blow for their moderate pro business wing but she needs to offer direction and research in her new role. Local or city tourist taxes have a good track record across Europe. Most who support it and see it as progressive and fair come from her side of the isle. The key 🔑 purpose is for business and consumer alike to see its purpose as a contributor to the tourist experience. Tourism Tax or Visitor levy’s need to be ring fenced and specifically allocated to agreed local plans for developing quality initiatives such as… Read more »

Dave
Dave
5 months ago

Wales just jumping on the bandwagon to grab more tax off people. Councils should be using their existing money/reserves and not just thinking about how to make themselves rich

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