Plans are in place to introduce a tourism levy in Wales to raise funds for councils to run services and infrastructure at holiday hotspots. In February, the Welsh government announced that a consultation on the tourist tax would be launched this autumn.
If implemented, councils can choose whether or not to introduce a tourist tax. However, Ashford Price, membership secretary for the Welsh Association of Tourist Attractions, fears this could make the country’s holiday industry less competitive as Britain continues to battle the cost of living crisis.
As reported by North Wales LiveMr Price said the idea was “incomprehensible” to the many tourism businesses still recovering from the Covid pandemic and now facing rising energy, fuel and food costs. He added: “Even more critical for Welsh tourism, Britons are set to experience the biggest drop in living standards since the 1950s, with £1,200 in extra household spending and a drop in real income of more than 3%. So, for some families, their future Welsh holidays are already uncertain.
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“All the other decentralized territories have considered the idea of a tourist tax. The most recent was Scotland. Ultimately, they all scrapped the idea due to the potential damage to their tourism industries.
“If this Welsh visitor’s tax materializes, how many of our potential customers will just vote with their feet and go to Devon or Ireland or Scotland rather than pay another tax at a time when they are trying to meet a cost live crisis personnel?
Visitors to Wales spend an average of £8m a day, making tourism the country’s second largest industry. Mr Price said a quarter of all VAT-registered businesses are in the visitor economy.
He explained: “Wales has a lot to lose if this tax is put in place. We should certainly encourage tourists to come to Wales, not tax them for coming!
“Wales has a lot to lose if this tax is put in place. Surely we should encourage tourists to come to Wales, not tax them to come!
The Welsh Government has said visitor taxes will be used to benefit local communities and businesses. A spokesperson said: “We will consider all views as part of the consultation process this fall. The careful process of developing levy proposals, translating them into legislation, and then delivering and implementing them. work spans years and will be subject to approval by the Senedd.
Popular European destinations like Spain have local tourist taxes. For example, visitors to Benidorm and the Costa Blanca will now pay up to two euros per night in hotels, campsites and hostels, which could add an extra £94 for a family of four on a two-week holiday.
Similarly, cruise ship passengers will also be subject to a fee. The goal is to help stations recover from the pandemic.
However, Mr Price said comparisons with Wales were ‘misleading’ as the VAT rate for tourism businesses in Britain is 20%. In many EU destinations it is only 10%.
He added that the structure of Wales’ tourism structure is different to that of many of its EU rivals. Day trippers form the majority of its clientele, but they contribute relatively little to the tourism economy.
“France has 433 million overnight tourists and Spain 471 million overnight tourists,” he said. “Wales has just 34 million bed nights.
“Overnight tourists in Wales spend an average of around £190 a day, while day visitors only spend around £30. So surely we should be encouraging overnight stays, not imposing an additional tax on tourists supporting the Welsh economy by staying the night? »
Prime Minister Mark Drakeford has said a tourism tax can benefit industry by increasing investment in visitor facilities such as toilets and car parks. He also said it would also help ease the burden on local ratepayers who currently fund these facilities through municipal taxes.
But Mr Price believes a tourist tax will penalize local communities for job losses and affect the plans of people wishing to holiday in their own country. “I don’t think the Welsh realize that this tax will hit them so hard in the pocket,” he said.
“As an example, hen and stag parties who stay overnight in Tenby will have to pay this tax, as will anyone Welsh staying in a hotel or caravan park. Young people in tents will have to s In fact, this tax is likely to hit the lower incomes of many Welsh people far more than tourists staying in £350 per night accommodation, who won’t mind an extra £15 on their bills.