Achieving sustainable and fair tourism: Why we’re launching a consultation on a visitor levy for Wales
Rebecca Evans, Welsh Government Minister for Finance and Local Government
Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru Designated Member
A warm Welsh welcome.
That’s what people from Wales, England and further afield can expect to receive when they visit the spectacular tourist destinations we have to offer.
With our thriving cities, epic landscapes and coastal towns and villages there’s something for everyone in Wales – and we want to show it off.
And to be able to continue doing this, we need to make sure communities are supported.
Next Tuesday (13th) we’ll be launching a consultation on our proposal for a visitor levy. This is one of the ways we’re looking to support tourism, in the interests of businesses, communities and visitors alike.
Sustainability and fairness
A levy is about sustainability and fairness.
Sustainability, because keeping our coastline clean, our parks pristine and our cities vibrant takes work – and a levy will help communities maintain our beautiful destinations for generations in the future.
And fairness, because the infrastructure which supports tourism should be funded by all those who rely on it, not local residents alone.
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.
Why not Wales?
Nothing is happening overnight; the process of creating legislation and implementing a levy would take many years.
While the specific detail of the proposal is still being developed – which is what the consultation will help us to do – we envisage a levy would apply to overnight visits. This is generally the case in other countries where visitor levies are used. We see it as a small charge that contributes to sustainable tourism.
We 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?
It is also important to remember that we are proposing to give councils the option of introducing a levy. The scale and economic impact of tourism varies significantly across Wales. Our plans would give local areas the power to decide if a levy would be right for them.
The idea for the levy originated from a public debate and call for ideas about new taxes in Wales. As we take forward this process we will continue to be open and transparent, listening to all who want to have their say. We have already been speaking to businesses, third sector representatives, councils, industry bodies and counterparts in overseas administrations who have visitor levies in place.
We want to ensure people have the opportunity to join those voices in shaping our approach, and the consultation we are launching next week will be the latest way to make this happen. Details will be available on the Welsh Government website and we look forward to hearing what people have to say.
We know how important tourism is to so many parts of Wales, and it’s vital we have sustainable, responsible tourism that works both for visitors and for the communities they’re visiting.
So please get involved, have your say, and help us extend our warm Welsh welcome to generations to come.
The visitor levy is being taken forward as part of the Co-operation Agreement signed between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
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