Bangor Mail

Have ‘open mind’ on tourism tax

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ECONOMY minister Vaughan Gething says people should have an “open mind” on proposals for a tourism tax in Wales and insisted no county will be forced to charge it.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has included a proposal to allow local authoritie­s to introduce a levy on visitors – most commonly imposed on nights spent in hotels, B&Bs or self catered holiday lets – in his programme for government.

This has sparked a backlash from the sector with the Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA) and North Wales Tourism among those who have attacked the idea.

Welsh Government has said that tourism taxes are used successful­ly around the world but the industry said most of the areas with levies have lower VAT rates than the UK.

Mr Gething, who was visiting Airbus and Toyota in north east Wales, said: “People should have an open mind on a tourism tax.

“We are starting a conversati­on on this – it is not something we’ll be rolling out in six weeks, we are just starting the consultati­on.”

He added that it had not put people off visiting other areas with tourism taxes and money raised could be invested to improve the visitor offer and reduce impact on local communitie­s.

He said if it did go forwards then “power would go to the local authoritie­s”.

He said: “We are not talking about a nationally set rate, and local authoritie­s could make decisions on how any money raised would be spent.”

He reiterated that no council would be forced to adopt a levy and it would be a local decision.

He added: “For example Flintshire could decide not to use this while Ynys Môn does.”

WTA chairman Andrew Campbell blasted the timing of the Welsh Government tax proposal as insensitiv­e and said it showed a lack of respect to the tourism industry in Wales when a recruitmen­t crisis is hampering recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jim Jones, chief executive at North Wales Tourism, said: “Instead of the Welsh Government prioritisi­ng the recovery and optimistic­ally talking growth, such as a 1% increase in tourism spend which would add an extra £20m to the economy, we find ourselves back to 2017 when the then Finance Minister Mark Drakeford was trying to push through four new taxes, one being tourism tax.

“We told him then as we tell him now, this is not welcomed by the majority of the industry.”

US rental platform Airbnb has come out in support of the tax.

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