The Daily Telegraph

Wales tourism tax hits both visitors and locals

Levy could add £75 to a week’s family holiday and has been criticised by the nation’s holiday industry


THE beauties of Wales, from the mountains of Snowdonia to the beaches of the Gower Peninsula, will now come at a cost – even to the Welsh.

The country’s government has published proposals for a tourism tax on overnight visitors, regardless of where they have travelled from.

A consultati­on document reveals the tax, estimated to add £75 to the cost of a week-long family holiday, would be applied to campers, bed and breakfast and hotel guests, as well as Welsh people holidaying within Wales.

The Welsh government, which is run by Labour with support from Plaid Cymru, said the tax would support “sustainabl­e tourism” and “bring about a sense of shared responsibi­lity between residents and visitors, to protect, and invest in, our local areas”.

The money raised is intended to be re-invested in local areas to support tourism, including keeping the beaches and pavements clean and maintainin­g parks, toilets and footpaths.

But Welsh Conservati­ves have said the levy could severely damage the leisure industry. They fear the plans will force people to turn their backs on Wales and take holidays elsewhere.

Across Europe, tourism taxes can range from €0.50 to €5 (40p to £4) per person, per night – or 5 per cent of the room bill – but this would be the first such levy imposed in the UK.

Welsh Tories condemned the decision by First Minister Mark Drakeford’s government to proceed with the plan.

Tom Giffard, the Tory tourism spokesman, said: “The Labour government, despite near-unanimous opposition from the Welsh tourism industry, are pressing ahead with their so-called visitor levy. This tourism tax could add a cost of £75 to a family holiday.

“This policy will put livelihood­s at risk as one in seven jobs – 200,000 – rely on the tourism industry. What’s more, there has been no guarantee that this tax would see any improvemen­t to tourism offers in local communitie­s, and the proceeds are instead likely to get sucked up into council coffers.”

Others say the proposals are part of a pattern of anti-english behaviour by the Welsh government. Former Labour MP and junior transport minister Tom Harris said the planned tourism tax, along with a crackdown on second homes, had already “unleashed a vile tsunami of anti-english hatred” in Wales.

Under the consultati­on Welsh councils would choose whether or not to introduce the charge “according to the needs of their communitie­s”, but it does not say how much the charge could be.

Potential exemptions include Roma and gipsy traveller primary residence sites, and for those needing emergency accommodat­ion, such as homeless people or those suffering domestic abuse.

One Welsh operator which carried out a survey among 2,000 visitors found that 70 per cent “would consider going on holiday to another country” if the tax was applied.

Chris Frost, chairman of North Wales Tourism, said it was the wrong time to introduce the levy as tourism was still struggling to recover post-pandemic.

Rebecca Evans, Wales’s minister for Finance and Local Government, said: “By asking visitors – whether they have travelled from within Wales or from further afield – to make a small contributi­on, we will encourage a more sustainabl­e approach for tourism.”

‘This policy will put livelihood­s at risk as one in seven jobs – 200,000 – rely on the tourism industry’

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