Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee Release their final report - The future of land management in Wales
The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee have released their report 'The future of land management in Wales'. WTA's Adrian Barsby gave evidence in person to the Committee. Please find attached the Committee’s report on the future of land management in Wales, which has been sent to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs.Please find attached the Committee’s report on the future of land management in Wales, which has been sent to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs. The report can be downloaded from here: http://www.assembly.wales/laid%20documents/cr-ld10995/cr-ld10995-e.pdf
Brief synopsis...while travel volume is low in January, the figures make impressive reading with numbers up 11% and spend up 15%. Although monthly figures can be misleading, the rolling three month figures of +13% for visitor numbers and +8% for spend suggest that the January figures are certainly not far from trend. Interestingly, despite the decrease in the value of the pound, outbound tourism is still performing very well too – with numbers up 9% and spend up 5%. Finally, while visits from the core EU countries are doing very well,it is the 19% increase in the North American market over the past three months that will be driving any increase in expenditure.
The Welsh and UK Governments are being challenged to realise the potential of the tourism industry and wider visitor economy in their post Brexit plans.
The call comes from us at the Wales Tourism Alliance, an organisation that represents all sectors of the tourism industry in Wales, which has set out the main challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s tourism industry when the UK leaves European Union.
The WTA has set out a seven-point plan for discussions with Assembly Members, MPs and local authority councillors to secure a thriving future for tourism in Wales. Tourism businesses are being advised to lobby AMs, MPs and councillors to hammer home the key points. The WTA wants the Welsh Government to:
WTA officials plan to raise the points with Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, Suzy Davies, chair of the Assembly's Cross Party Tourism Group and Steve Thomas, of the Welsh Local Government Association.
Calls for the UK Government to confirm at the earliest opportunity in the Brexit negotiations the continued right of EU nationals to remain working here are endorsed by the WTA. Tourism businesses are encouraged to reassure their EU workers during this uncertain time, as they are said to play an important role in some sectors of the industry in Wales.
“Brexit presents challenges for the tourism industry in Wales but also great opportunities for growth in business and employment,” said WTA chairman Adrian Barsby. “This will be achieved so long as individual tourism businesses respond to the challenge and are supported by the right government policies, including financial support for the industry commensurate with its needs and potential for growth.
“The reconsideration, which must be given post Brexit to all government support across the spectrum of economic activity, is an opportunity for a fresh look at the needs of the tourism industry and the returns which will be obtained from a more realistic level of Government support.
“It is a time when the rules are being re-written. Let it be done in a way which realises the potential of the tourism industry and wider visitor economy.”
On support for businesses, the WTA says: “Welsh Government support for capital investment in the industry from all its various support schemes has probably been running at no more than £10 million annually. An earmarked development tourism fund of double the existing annual spend would not be out of place bearing in mind the £2.7 billion contribution of the industry to GDP and its further growth potential.”
On tourism marketing, it says: “Welsh Government support for the marketing undertaken by Visit Wales is just over £10 million for this year with a one-off increase to £15 million promised for next year. By comparison with competitor destinations, the current marketing budget is inadequate. The Visit Scotland budget, for example, is currently around £55 million which includes provision for a staff complement of around 600, itself an indicator of the competition we are up against.”
For more information please contact either Adrian Barsby, Wales Tourism Alliance chairman, on Tel: 01352 741998 or 07921 787668, Paul Loveluck on Tel: 01686 650818 or Duncan Foulkes, public relations adviser, on Tel: 01686 650818.
What the Tourism Industry Needs to thrive and grow post Brexit
Brexit presents challenges for the tourism industry in Wales but also great opportunities for growth in business and employment. This will be achieved as long as individual tourism businesses respond to the challenge and this is supported by the right government policies including financial support for the industry commensurate with its needs and potential for growth. The reconsideration which will have to be given post Brexit to all government support across the spectrum of economic activity is an opportunity for a fresh look at the needs of the tourism industry and the returns which will be obtained from a more realistic level of Government support. It is a time when the rules are being re-written. Let it be done in a way which realises the potential of the tourism industry and wider visitor economy.
Against that background the Wales Tourism Alliance requests Government to consider the following:
A Strategic Development Plan for the Industry.
The Welsh Government and the representative organisations of the industry should consult and agree a Development Plan for the industry to succeed the existing ‘Tourism Strategy-A Partnership for Growth’ including a review of destination partnerships. There should be annual reporting on progress on the Plan and on the targets set by the Government in respect of its financial support for the industry so that adjustments can be made as necessary.
Appropriate Land and Coastal Management Policies.
Arguably the main attraction of Wales to its visitors is the perceived quality of the natural environment, the countryside and coast. It is essential that policies are followed that protects and enhances these assets.
Taxation Policies which promote the Competitiveness of the Industry
In common with the rest of the UK, the industry in Wales is penalised in comparison with near European countries by the current rate of VAT. The WTA calls upon the Welsh Government to press the UK Government to reduce the rate to a more competitive level for the industry and to increase the level at which thresholds are set. In addition we call for a review of the principles and practice underlying the present system of Business Rates; there is evidence that the recent revaluation has had a disproportionately adverse effect on tourism businesses and has penalised firms that have invested in improvements to the point of threatening their viability. Within the responsibilities of the Welsh Government, the WTA urges the avoidance of any further taxation measures which would affect the competitiveness of the industry. Fees and duties associated with entry and exit at air and sea ports should also be set so as to achieve international competitiveness.
Financial Support for Capital Investment and Product Improvement by Business
The industry contributes £2.7 billion to the economy. The current level of Welsh Government support for capital investment in the industry from all its various support schemes has probably been running at no more than £10 million annually. The industry’s capital investment is overwhelmingly supported from retained profits and bank borrowing but innovative new tourism businesses would not get off the ground without some government support. There have been good examples in recent years of such support, modest in scale, being crucial to the success of the development of new tourism businesses. Post Brexit the industry should have a specific allocation of funding linked to the Development Framework to support capital investment and product development in tourism businesses.
The scheme rules should reflect the fact that the industry is mainly composed of micro businesses and SMEs, mostly owner managed. An earmarked development tourism fund of double the existing annual spend would not be out of place bearing in mind the £2.7 billion contribution of the industry to GDP and its further growth potential.
A Meaningful Marketing Budget
The fall in the value of the pound makes us a more attractive destination to overseas visitors while the increase in the cost of overseas holidays may persuade more UK residents to holiday at home. But this will only happen if knowledge of what we offer is brought to the market place. The small scale nature of tourism businesses in Wales means that Government support is vital for the effective marketing of Wales as a tourism destination.. The contribution of local government is being squeezed by financial pressures which are likely to continue. Welsh Government support for the marketing undertaken by Visit Wales is just over £10 million for this year with a one off increase to £15 million promised for next year.
By comparison with competitor destinations, the current marketing budget is inadequate to maintain sufficient voice in the market alongside competitors and to realise the potential of the industry in Wales. The Visit Scotland budget, for example, is currently around £55 million which includes provision for a staff complement of around 600, itself an indicator of the competition we are up against. The WTA therefore urges the Welsh Government post Brexit to afford a more internationally competitive marketing budget for Visit Wales to run generic all Wales campaigns and to leverage joint campaigns with industry partners The national campaigns, as well as supporting the marketing of new tourism products, also need to maintain Wales’ profile in traditional market sectors.
The WTA also looks to Visit Britain to work with Visit Wales to develop key markets for Wales overseas including those markets now served by international airlines using airports in close proximity to Wales. Visit Britain and Visit Wales should coordinate their marketing campaigns and support for trade missions in key markets for Wales.
Maintaining and Improving the Skills needed by the Industry
EU nationals play an important part in some sectors of the industry in Wales, as elsewhere in the UK, and they will continue to be needed. The WTA urges that their continued right to remain be confirmed at the earliest possible stage of the Brexit negotiations. Our colleges and universities are playing a vital role in training for the needs of the industry. There should be closer liaison with tourism businesses to maintain the relevance of the courses on offer and to develop programmes specifically tailored for the needs of the owner/managers of tourism businesses. More funding support is needed for training programmes to fund widening gaps in the industry. The post Brexit implications of EU funded programmes like Erasmus need careful consideration and consultation with the industry.
Ensuring Key Tourism Infrastructure
Completion of the superfast broadband programme and ensuring its reliability. There is a danger that key tourism infrastructure and services provided by local authorities are disappearing because of financial pressures. The WTA proposes that the Welsh Government and the Welsh Local Government Association should discuss the situation with the industry and seek ways in which the impact of public expenditure reductions might be ameliorated. In addition the WTA looks to the Welsh Government and local authorities should take steps to facilitate the speedier introduction of tourism signposting in support of both individual tourism businesses and clusters.
What individual Tourism Businesses might consider doing in the years leading up to and post Brexit
Be active and continuous in pressing your Government representatives (Cardiff Bay and Westminster) and local authority on the above points.
Support the Wales Tourism Alliance, your trade and local tourism association and your regional tourism company in their work for your business.
Support the EU nationals you employ in this time of uncertainty about their future and do what you can to ensure they have the right to remain.
To the extent that it supports your business, align your marketing with the generic Wales and UK marketing being undertaken by Government.
Maximise your marketing clout through participating in joint marketing schemes including greater use of digital platforms.
Work with your local Higher and Further education training providers to ensure they provide the courses which enhance your and your employees’ skill levels. In return businesses should provide opportunities for students to gain work experience and ‘career tasting’ opportunities.
Be alert to the possibility of Government support for new capital and product investment.
Work within your local community to explain the importance of the industry so that the community as a whole is a ‘welcoming host’.
Wales Tourism Alliance
The Spring budget had two themes – “Building an economy that works for everyone” and “We are the party of the NHS”.
While there was considerable rhetoric related to these two themes, the measures announced to support them were rather prosaic with additional funding of £2bn for social care over a three year period and small allocations to other aspects of the NHS and a number of improvements to education. The problem being to match up statements of “too many families are still feeling the squeeze” with statements that “we will not saddle our children with ever increasing debt – there will be no 'unfunded spending'”
Anyway, the main point for tourism businesses was, as predicted, support for businesses suffering from increase Business rates and a promise that there will be consultation on a new way of calculating business rates before the next revision in 2022.
However, as many tourism businesses are owner-operated SMEs, there are changes tax treatments for NIC contributions and the tax treatment of allowances that will impact many tourism businesses.
General Economic Status
Tourism Related Issues
Infrastructure and Transport
Making Tax Digital
Return to Work Support
The headline figures are that visitor numbers are up 3% for the year to 37.34m, but with spend is static at £22.16bn.
Beneath this headline there are some interesting figures. December visitor numbers are up 11% which, combined with visitor numbers being up 16% in November, suggest that the expected Brexit boost is well underway. Outbound tourism continues to hold up with numbers up 7% and spend up 11% in 2016 (interestingly, numbers were up 8% and spend up 15% in the final quarter suggesting that the drop in the value of the pound was having little impact on the desire of UK residents to take a holiday overseas).
Inbound Holiday and VFR travel have been growing significantly over the last quarter as people have taken advantage of the drop in the value of the Pound while business travel has struggled due to the uncertainty of Brexit. While the Short-haul European markets have been the quickest to respond to the drop in the pound, the long-haul markets are now starting to grow strongly with the US leading the way with a 15% increase over the last quarter of 2016.
Statement from Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government on Targeted High Street Rates Relief Scheme 2017-18
Mark Drakeford AM - Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government
'On 17 December 2016, as part of the final Budget, the Welsh Government announced an extra £10m to support high street retailers, including pubs and restaurants.
I am today setting out further detail about how this targeted high street rates relief scheme for 2017-18 will operate. This £10m scheme, which is in addition to the £10m transitional rates relief scheme for businesses whose eligibility for small business rates relief has been affected by the 2017 revaluation, has been developed in partnership with local authorities to ensure support is targeted at those high street retailers most in need of support.
The high street rates relief scheme will provide support of up to £1,500 on the non-domestic rates bill for eligible businesses with a rateable value of up to £50,000 in 2017-18.
Ratepayers who will benefit from the relief include those with occupied high street retail premises, such as shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and wine bars.
To maximise the amount of support which can be provided and to ensure it is targeted at those areas and businesses affected by the revaluation, there will be two tiers of relief.
The first tier will apply to eligible high street retailers with a rateable value of between £6,001 and £12,000 who are in receipt of either small business rates relief (SBRR) or transitional rates relief.
These ratepayers will receive a reduction in their rates bill of £500, except where this would reduce their bill below nil – in these cases ratepayers will receive a discount equal to the amount of their outstanding liability.
The second tier of relief will apply to eligible high street retailers with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £50,000 who have an increase in their non‑domestic rates liability on 1 April 2017. These ratepayers will receive a reduction in their rates bill of up to £1,500.
This higher level of support reflects the fact these businesses are not entitled to other sources of government-funded support, such as SBRR, and may be facing substantial increases in their rates liability as a result of the 2017 revaluation, which has been carried out by the independent Valuation Office Agency.
Targeting support in this way means the support will be available to eligible businesses which see increases in their liability as a result of revaluation as well to those businesses on high streets where rates are falling but businesses are struggling as a result of economic conditions and competition from online and out-of-town providers.
The high street rates relief scheme is unique to Wales and will provide support to almost 15,000 small and medium businesses across the country in 2017-18.
My officials have been working closely with local authorities to design the scheme and ensure councils are able to act swiftly to support businesses in their areas. Accompanying guidance will be provided to support the effective administration of the relief and eligible ratepayers will be notified about their entitlement.
This new targeted scheme, together with our decision to extend the £100m small business rates relief scheme into 2017-18 and provide a £10m transitional rates relief scheme from April 2017, will provide vital support to ratepayers across Wales.
The eligibility criteria for qualifying businesses are listed below:
The relief will exclude:
WRAP Cymru and WTA Looking for a range of hospitality businesses to trial a brand new programme to Help food businesses save money
Your business is food, don’t throw it away
WRAP Cymru with the support of WTA would like to work with a range of hospitality businesses to trial a brand new programme to help food businesses save money. Your business is food, don’t throw it away (YBIF) aims to support food businesses with simple steps and handy resources to reduce the amount of food thrown away and educate staff and customers.
WRAP Cymru want to work with interested businesses to trial the YBIF resources and, where relevant, opportunities to redistribute any surplus food. To capture the extent of savings it is anticipated the project would run from April to June 2017. Participating business would benefit from cost savings and the support required to work through the resources, develop a plan and measure its effectiveness. They would also feature in case studies which would be used to promote YBIF to other hospitality and tourism businesses.
If you are interested in benefitting from this free support please contact Helen.Hawley@wrap.org.uk by the 10th March.
This White Paper seeks a new relationship between national and local government. One as it states 'where there is a mutual understanding and recognition of respective roles and interests, and where all partners are given the space to maximise the positive impact they have through working with citizens on mutually agreed agendas'. IIt reviews regional working and proposes a new framework for local government to work within. You have until the 11th of April 2017 to respond. Papers can be found here: https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/reforming-local-government-resilient-and-renewed
New figures out today show a record-breaking November for inbound tourism visits and spend to the UK.
There were 3.1 million inbound visits to the UK in November 2016, up 17% on the same month in 2015. Overseas visitors spent £1.7 billion, up 14%.
Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show that from January to November 2016 the UK saw 34.5 million visits, up 3% on the same period in 2015 with visitors spending £20.4 billion, up 1%.
Strong growth was seen in November last year from North America (Canada and the US,* the latter Britain’s most valuable tourism source market) with 300,000 visits, up 28% compared to November 2015.
It brings total visits from North America for January to November 2016 to 4 million, up 6% on 2015.
There were 23.3 million visits from the EU for January to November 2016, up 4% on the same period in 2015.