Tourism tax proposals, a kick in the teeth for Llandudno, Conwy and Colwyn Bay businesses

Reporter:

Allan George

Proposals for a tourism tax, floated by the Welsh Government, have been blasted by holiday organisations and local politicians.

Finance Minister, Mark Drakeford, announced the plans in the government’s draft budget, without providing details.

In a statement he said: “We will work with local government to explore how a tax on tourist accommodation could support the local industry and encourage jobs and growth in Wales.”

Clwyd West Assembly Member Darren Millar stated the tax would be a major blow to North Wales.

He said: “So much hard work has gone into trying to regenerate our towns along the North Wales coast and this tax on tourists could put all that in jeopardy.

“It could devastate communities and make regeneration efforts in Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and Llandudno even more difficult and have a crippling effect on caravan parks, hotels and other businesses which rely on visitors to make ends meet.

“We should be doing all we can to attract tourists to this beautiful part of the country, not discouraging them by making family holidays more expensive.

”Our small businesses are already struggling and this tax could totally destroy them – I don’t understand why it is even being considered. The Welsh Government needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with a less destructive way of raising money.”

Berin Jones, chairman of Llandudno Hospitality Association said: “At the moment we don’t know what the Welsh Government’s intention is, they are looking at a number of options.

“Some countries in Europe have a tourist tax, that is where this idea comes from, but they have lower rates of VAT, so if there is to be parity with them on a tourist tax there should also be parity on VAT.

“A tourism tax would have a seriously detrimental effect, not only on urban areas, where there are a lot of tourism and hospitality businesses, but also on rural areas where there has already been a massive hike in business rates, a rise of 200 per cent. This has a serious impact on people’s ability to run tourism businesses. It makes some businesses not sustainable.

“It will stifle investment in the industry. We feel there are other options for the Welsh government which would be far more environmentally friendly, such as the suggested plastic bottle tax, than focusing on one industry.

“But there is a long way to go with this, there hasn’t been any consultation yet. As an industry we already make considerable contributions to the public purse.”

Jim Jones, managing director of industry body North Wales Tourism, said he had received a “colossal amount of feedback” from members.

”Many of whom find the prospect of a tourism tax abhorrent for many reasons.

“One member criticised the amount paid to the government for grading, 20 per cent VAT, among the highest in Europe, plus living wage costs, commission rates payable to on-line travel agencies and rates.

"Tourism is the biggest industry we have in North West Wales and some members are paying out more than their income, and our members believe this is another kick in the teeth for them."

Email:

allan.george@nwn.co.uk

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