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Welsh Government policies among biggest concern for tourism operators – report

15 Mar 2024 3 minute read
An empty Welsh beach

Emily Price

A new report has found that Welsh Government policies are one of the biggest concerns of tourism operators in Wales.

The Wales Tourism Business Barometer 2024 surveyed 900 people from sectors such as serviced accommodation, self-catering, campsites, attractions and pubs.

The report was carried out by Government Social Research on behalf of the Welsh Government.

It looked at 2023 performance across the tourism sector as well as booking levels and expectations for 2024.

It found that high operating costs and Welsh Government policies are the two most frequently mentioned concerns.

The report noted a sense of helplessness among some operators that they can’t do anything to minimise the impact of policies which are unfavourable for them.

Weather

The results showed a challenging picture for 2023 with self-catering recording the most difficult year.

Attractions performed well, but most other sectors struggled to increase customer levels compared to 2022.

Some operators blamed the weather for being a significant factor, as it was rainy in the first part of the peak summer season.

The ‘182 days’ occupancy rule is the main reason Welsh Government policies are of such significant concern to self-catering operators but less of a concern in other sectors.

In April last year, the Welsh Government changed the criteria for a holiday let property to qualify for business rates.

Under the new rule, a property needs to be made available for 252 days and occupied by guests on a commercial basis for 182 days in order to be eligible for business rates.

Among those most concerned about high operating costs, 22% say they are reducing non-staff overheads.

13% are promoting the business to attract new customers, 13% are increasing prices and 13% are holding prices or giving special offers.

A trend in last minute bookings has made future months hard to predict but about half of accommodation operators said they were satisfied with their current occupancy levels for the coming months.

Welsh language

Industry optimism appeared somewhat dampened with around a third of operators saying ‘there is nothing to be positive about’.

This attitude was highest in self-catering (41%) – and by region, in mid Wales (39%).

The report also looked at the use of the Welsh language amongst tourism staff.

40% of businesses have at least one person using Welsh regularly in work.

This proportion is much higher in north Wales (60%) and mid Wales (40%) than in south west Wales (26%) and south east Wales (21%).

However, the report found that some first language Welsh speakers are not using Welsh in work.

Where ‘all’ or ‘most’ staff are first language speakers, Welsh is usually (within 97% of those businesses) being used in day-to-day work.

But in around half (51%) of businesses where ‘some’ staff speak Welsh as a first language, none are using it in day-to-day work.

It is also worth noting that in 11% of businesses where no staff speak Welsh as a first language, at least one person is using Welsh in work.

In some cases staff are trying to learn Welsh or teach a few words to customers.

‘Negative impact’

Shadow Minister for Tourism, Tom Giffard says the Welsh Goverment shouldn’t be “enemies” of the tourism sector.

He said: “These findings show that Labour and Plaid’s policies for tourism are having a real negative impact among tourism operators.

“Tourism businesses are an important part of our economy, paying wages and keeping communities vibrant, and many of these businesses are deeply worried about Labour’s anti-tourism agenda.

“The Welsh Government should be the champions, not the enemies, of the tourism sector.”

The Welsh Government was invited to comment.


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Stevie B
Stevie B
1 month ago

Welsh Government tinkering in second homes and holiday lets will undoubtedly damage the tourism industry in Wales.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 month ago
Reply to  Stevie B

Plaid Cymru supports a locally owned Welsh tourist industry. It is one of our important industries. There has been opposition to a proposal for a 5% tourist tax to be raised by local town or community councils to maintain and improve local provisions at the resorts. What Tories and others don’t mention is the 15% VAT tourist tax that is collected and kept by the UK government: thus taken out of the area and often Wales. The Welsh labour government has recently not performed too well for the people of Wales and having acted against Plaid Cymru’s advice and that… Read more »

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
1 month ago

Westminster’s fault.

Caradwg
Caradwg
1 month ago

Er, the Cooperation Agreement, signed by Adam and Mark Drakeford was put in place, ar the point of signature, until December this year. So hardly a case of Plaid withdrawing.

JNRM
JNRM
1 month ago

15% VAT! What about the £22billion the WG receive each year from Westminster?

Arthur
Arthur
1 month ago
Reply to  Stevie B

In Ceredigion up to March 2023, it was local people who contributed to the ‘second home’ premium pot not the second home owners. Mass exodus to holiday let during COVID 19 when there were travelling restrictions ( I ask you !) – full business rates relief and a £10k Brucie Bonus !! Law of the jungle !

JNRM
JNRM
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur

Second home owners were banned from occupying their properties during Covid. In a number of cases the police turned up to inform.them to.leave.
The WG has recently backtracked saying they never said they couldn’t occupy their second homes just that they were banned from travelling to them!!!!!! This was designed to prevent SH owners reclaiming CT as their properties couldn’t be occupied by law.
Since when have locals paid the CT Premium on behalf of SH owners?

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