‘Anti-English’ Wales risks trashing its holiday sector, says tourism boss

Plans to introduce a tourism tax in Wales will make the country’s holiday sector less competitive, just as Britain is grappling with the cost of living crisis, the owner has warned. a major Welsh attraction. Ashford Price, membership secretary for the Welsh Tourist Attractions Association, said tourism businesses are worried and some are holding back their investment plans until more is known.

In February, the Welsh Government announced that a consultation on the tourist tax would be launched this autumn when full details are released. If implemented, councils can choose whether or not to introduce a tourist tax.

Ministers said a tourism levy would raise funds for councils to run services and infrastructure in tourist hotspots. The concept was accepted by Cardiff as part of its cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru.

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Mr Price, owner of the National Showcaves Center for Wales, said the idea was ‘unfathomable’ for the many tourism businesses still trying to recover from successive Covid lockdowns, and now faced with rising costs of energy, fuel, food and insurance. 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.

“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?

Tourism is Wales’ second largest industry, with visitors spending an average of £8m a day. A quarter of all businesses subject to VAT are part of the visitor economy, Mr Price said.

“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! he said.

“The Sun, Express and Mail newspapers are already raving about it, calling the proposed Welsh tourist levy a ‘tax on Britons wishing to visit Wales’. From the many English contacts I have made in tourism over the years, I gather that there is now a growing feeling among some in England that the Welsh government is anti-English, and also anti-tourism.

“In many parts of Wales, 80% of their visitors come from England. Can Wales really afford to lose this market?

COMMENT: Is ‘anti-English’ sentiment growing in Wales? Have your say in the comments below.

Ashford Price is Chairman of Dan-yr-Ogof, the National Showcaves Center for Wales. He is also the Membership Secretary and Public Relations Officer at WAVA, which represents over 80 tourist attractions in Wales.

EU destinations such as Spain already have local tourist taxes and the region of Valencia recently became the latest to levy a tax. Visitors to Benidorm, the Costa Blanca and other popular locations 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 holiday from two weeks.

Cruise ship passengers will also be subject to a charge whether or not they stay overnight. The goal is to help stations recover from the pandemic.

However, Mr Price said comparisons with what happens in Wales were “misleading”, as the VAT rate for tourism businesses in many EU destinations is 10%. In Great Britain, the rate is 20%.

He said the structure of Wales’ tourism sector also differs from that of many of its EU rivals. Excursionists form the bulk of its clientele, but they contribute relatively little to the tourist 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? »

Critics of a tourism tax fear councils will use the extra revenue received to cut other tourism spending. Last month Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies attacked Adam Price for what he called the Plaid Cymru leader’s ‘remarkable admission’ that a tourism tax could be used to fund free school meals universal.

Prime Minister Mark Drakeford has said a tourism tax can benefit industry by increasing investment in visitor facilities such as toilets and car parks. It will also help ease the burden on local ratepayers who currently fund these facilities through municipal taxes, he said.

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.

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