Here's the link to the consultation which is open until 2nd March 2018
HMRC is looking at introducing conditionality as a means to combat tax avoidance. This means that anyone applying for certain licenses must show the licensing authority that they are properly registered for tax. Last year HMRC consultated on a suggestion it might be applied to sharing economy accommodation, now HMRC is undertaking a follow-up consultation on how it might apply to HMOs and taxi licensing, which may be of interest to some members.
Here's the link to the consultation which is open until 2nd March 2018
The Office for Road and Rail is undertaking a consultation on ways to improve assisted travel arrangements provided by train operators. Specifically they are seeking views on:
This will be of interest to those providing travel for elderly or disabled customers and for business wanting to improve the ability of customers to reach their premises using public transport. The consultation is open until 31 January and is available on the following link.
Suzy Davies AM: Will the Cabinet Secretary provide an update on the Welsh Government's proposed new taxes?
Mark Drakeford AM: Simply to say that it remains my intention to test the new Wales Act 2014 powers during 2018.
Suzy Davies AM: Okay. Well, thank you for that answer as well, because it gives me a bit of a steer on timing there. Last month, following a debate on potential tourism tax in Bridgend council, the Labour cabinet member for regeneration there said, 'As the cabinet portfolio holder for tourism, I would say that this is the least likely of the Welsh Government options for a new tax to find favour across Wales.'
And then went on to say 'I think most people would strongly support the alternative proposal of a tax on disposable plastics.' The Labour leader of Swansea council has today said he favours a social care tax. When Labour leaders in my region are already dismissing the tourism tax as an idea, would it not be a good idea to actually save some money by not developing that idea and concentrating on the other three options?
Mark Drakeford AM: Llywydd, I'm very glad to see individuals around Wales taking an interest in this debate, and it's interesting to see that there are a variety of views out there, and that is exactly what we had hoped would happen by bringing forward the debate in the way that we have. It would have been very easy for the Welsh Government to have acted as the UK Government does in fiscal matters by keeping everything entirely to itself and attempting to spring a surprise on everyone else after a decision has been made. I have been very keen to go about our fiscal responsibilities in an entirely different way, to be far more open, to be far more engaged with people who have views. I listen very carefully to what people in all parties say about the four different ideas that we have brought forward. The leader of Swansea would be correct to say that, in terms of public reaction, there has been more support for a plastics tax than any of the other items that we put on our list, but that is not to say that there isn't interest in all of them or that the debate should not continue.
Neil Hamilton AM: To revert to the experimental tax case that Suzy Davies mentioned earlier on in relation to a tourist tax, has he not seen that Ian Edwards, the chief executive of the Celtic Manor, has recently said, 'Along with everybody else in our industry, I was stunned by news of a proposed new tourism tax for Wales being considered' by the Welsh Government? He said that 'A tourism tax would seriously jeopardise our ability to continue our rapid recent growth as a resort and carry on making this valuable contribution to the Welsh economy.' In the same sentence that the Cabinet Secretary uttered to me, in that debate that I referred to a moment ago, that there was no evidence that lower tax boosts growth, he also said that badly designed taxes can hamper growth. The Cabinet Secretary has certainly announced a number of ideas for hampering growth in the Welsh economy. I hope he will reject these ideas.
Mark Drakeford AM: Llywydd, there's little for me to add to what I said earlier on this whole matter. We're having a debate about different possibilities that exist for Wales. The views of anybody who has a view are welcome, whatever they may be, and we will take them into account when we come to make our decision. We will take the views of Celtic Manor into account. The Welsh Government is a very significant investor in Celtic Manor. It has received many millions of pounds in direct aid from the Welsh taxpayer. We will take its views into account, alongside anybody else's. That's the point of having a debate.
Neil Hamilton AM: I appreciate that the Cabinet Secretary has an open mind and he's not in a position today to announce any final decisions, because that's the whole point of the consultation process, and I appreciate that having put £22.5 million into Celtic Manor he should want to get a good return on that investment. Therefore, I hope that that's going to inform his decision taking in this respect as well, because Ian Edwards said further in the article that I'm quoting that 'Adding extra cost to staying in Wales would have just as damaging an effect on attracting business events as it would on attracting leisure visitors. Securing large conferences and association meetings is a very competitive sector and an additional tax on the thousands of delegates who attend these events would be a significant deterrent to those considering Wales as a venue.' So, clearly, this is a vitally important issue for the whole of the hospitality sector in Wales, and the sooner we announce that we're not going to go ahead with a tourist tax, the easier it will be for them to relax and sleep easy in their beds.
Mark Drakeford AM: Llywydd, I hear the case that the Member has made. He will be aware that others make a very different set of propositions. Other people would say that taking a very small amount of money from people who are clearly not short of money—they're coming to stay in the Celtic Manor—that a very small addition to their nightly stay would create a pool of money that could be further invested in enterprises like the Celtic Manor and other tourism possibilities that would attract more people into Wales in the future, and that investment of that sort, delivered by people who, after all, are enjoying the benefits of all the investment that the public purse has made in that sector—that that is not an unfair thing to ask of them, and actually creates a benign cycle in which small amounts of individual contributions are aggregated and allow significant new investments, that benefit the industry, to be made.
Now, I am not saying that the Welsh Government has come down on either side of this argument. All I'm saying is that in this area, as in all others, there are many competing analyses of what would work best, and the point of having a debate is to allow all those arguments to come out into the open, and then to be properly weighed up.
Proposals for a Mid Wales Growth Deal to help build a Welsh economy fit for the future have been welcomed by the chairman of an independent organisation that represents around 600 tourism and hospitality businesses in the region.
Chancellor Philip Hammond mentioned during his Autumn Budget statement that the UK government is open to proposals for a Mid Wales Growth Deal.
Rowland Rees-Evans, MWT Cymru chairman, told the organisation’s annual meeting at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells that a Growth Mid Wales Partnership had been set up to take the proposal forward in Powys and Ceredigion. MWT Cymru would be represented on the partnership.
He said the growth deal was a fantastic opportunity for Mid Wales and he encouraged members to work together in collaboration to come up with exciting ideas for headline attractions to promote and drive forward the region’s economy.
“Ministers are talking about our region and there has now been the promise of money coming from Westminster,” he said “As we are four years behind the City Deals in Cardiff and Swansea, we must keep knocking at the door and talking to politicians.
“It’s the only way in the future that we will get things done because the money available in the public sector is decreasing. I feel positive about the proposal because, currently, Mid Wales has very little support.
“Over the next two years, we will hopefully have plans on the table and now is the time for growth. Tourism is an important part to the Mid Wales economy and we must drive this forward.”
One member suggested that Mid Wales should express an interest to house a proposed National Football Museum for Wales.
HMRC have launched a range of digital products to make completion of Self-Assessment easier, so if you need to complete your 2016-17 tax return and don't know where to start you can choose from a selection of live or recorded webinars, online guides and short YouTube videos to support you in completing the return.
Live webinars - no special equipment is needed, simply select the links provided and connect using your desktop computer or any smart device. You can submit questions using the text box.
Self Assessment help and support live sessions: You can listen to live Q&A and get answers to your questions, from business expenses to paying tax and National Insurance. Book here
Self Employment help and support sessions: This webinar is aimed at sole traders and self-employed partnerships, with help on a range of topics including allowable and simplified expenses, your tax return and budgeting for your tax bill. Book here
How to complete your online tax return: Get the help you need completing your Self Assessment tax return. Book here
Can’t make these dates? The links will be updated and new dates will be added throughout January. You can also take a look at the e-learning packages available, including topics such as 'Business expenses for the self-employed' which are designed specifically for businesses - these can be used at a time that suits you. There’s also a selection of short YouTube videos, covering topics such as:
The HMRC YouTube channel has a range of videos to support you with your Self-Assessment. You can view them, and other films, here.
The deadline for filing your tax return is 31 January 2018.
Details of all these products can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Earlier this year the UK Government established the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), chaired by Alan Manning. The Committee has been asked to conduct an analysis about EEA migration across the whole of the UK which is expected to inform the future UK Government approach to migration.
The MAC published a call for evidence on 4 August which closed on 27 October. However, the Committee is taking evidence after this date and as part of the Migration Advisory Committee’s work on the value of EU nationals to UK businesses and what needs to be done to ensure that there are is not a shortage of employees when the UK leaves the EU, a round-table discussion was held in Cardiff on the 21st November.
The WTA was represented by Adrian Greason-Walker who was able to raise awareness to the members of our sector. Adrian expressed his concern for the tourism industry and the loss of labour that may result as a direct result of BREXIT. The MAC will in due course produce a series of recommendations which will be passed back to the UK Government.
A 'Research Briefing Note' has been published on the UK parliament.gov website. This note gives a short introduction to the way VAT works, and the significance of EU VAT law for setting VAT rates, before discussing the campaign for a lower VAT rate on tourist services.
However it states 'the current Government has said that it would consider the impact of VAT, and the impact of air passenger duty (APD), on tourism in Northern Ireland. In the Autumn Budget on 22 November the Government confirmed that it would “publish a call for evidence which will consider the impact of VAT and APD on tourism in Northern Ireland” early in 2018 “to report at Budget 2018.”
We are going to be monitoring this development closely and will make any representations needed at the right time.
Welsh Government has announced the next round of tourism funding and published details on the plans for ‘2018 Year of the Sea’ and ‘The Wales Way’.
The Regional Tourism Engagement Fund 2018/19 (RTEF) and the Tourism Product Innovation Fund 2018/19 (TPIF) aim to help the private and public sector work together to develop and deliver tourism products linked to Year of the Sea 2018, Year of the Discovery 2019, and The Wales Way. Expressions of interest are invited by 24 November 2017.
The Regional Tourism Engagement Managers in the respective Welsh region can provide further information on the funding opportunities:
North Wales: Andrew Forfar, AndrewWallace.Forfar@gov.wales
Mid Wales: Helen Jones, Helen.Jones28@gov.wales
South West Wales: Jane Donald, Jane.Donald@gov.wales
South East Wales: Louisa Giles, Louisa.Giles@gov.wales
2018 Year of the Sea
The thematic years will continue with the ‘Year of the Sea’ taking place throughout 2018, and aims to promote Wales as a world-class coastal destination putting coastal communities, lakeside and riverside shores at the forefront of marketing campaigns. Further details on how members can participate can be found here.
The Wales Way
The Wales Way is a new initiative which will encourage ‘independent explorer’ visitors to explore the product and areas around three main routes:
The Wales Way marketing campaign aims to provide a focal point for international marketing with authentic and distinctive experiences at their core. A flyer giving further details about the project is attached and for further information please contact Lucy von Weber or Gwawr Price, email: email@example.com or tel: 0300 062 2550.
A proposed tourism tax which is being considered by the Welsh Government received an emphatic thumbs down at the Mid Wales Tourism and Business Conference.
The conference, organised by independent tourism organisation MWT Cymru and sponsored by NFU Mutual, Aberystwyth at The Metropol Hotel, Llandrindod Wells, included an ‘Ask the experts’ question time.
The panel of experts comprised Adrian Barsby, Wales Tourism Alliance chairman, Rob Holt, Visit Wales’ deputy director of tourism development and major events, Suzy Davies, AM, chairman of the Wales Cross-Parliamentary Tourism Group and John Mercer, NFU Cymru director.
The Welsh Government is currently considering which of four new tax raising power proposals to select. The tourism industry across Wales is united in its opposition to a tourism tax proposal, warning the government that it risks making the industry uncompetitive against England.
There is also concern that the tax would add an extra burden to the industry when it is already paying more in business rates and meeting the minimum wage law. There is also an argument that businesses don’t need further uncertainty on top of the Brexit negotiations.
Rowland Rees-Evans, MWT Cymru chairman, confessed to being fearful about the prospect of a tourism tax and asked for the panel’s opinion on the proposal.
Mr Holt noted that many countries and cities had some form of tourism tax, but he fully understood the strength of feeling within the sector against the proposal, not least in the context of current VAT rates.
Mrs Davies argued that VAT was a form of tourism tax and she urged the Welsh Government to drop the proposal as soon as possible to stop uncertainty in the industry.
Mr Barsby said the tax would make the Welsh tourism industry uncompetitive and said it would be an unfair levy on accommodation providers.
John Mercer, NFU Cymru director, said the proposal was causing concern amongst farm tourism businesses. “We need to be getting behind our businesses to get through the uncertainty that is being caused by Brexit,” he added.
One delegate commented that her business rates had increased by 600 per cent and an extra tax could be the tipping point where she and other businesses considered whether it was worth carrying on.
Mr Barsby said: “It does seem grossly unfair that businesses that invest in small towns and become a catalyst for regeneration are then a target for extortionate business rate rises.”
Other topics raised by delegates were marketing themes chosen by Visit Wales, Broadband coverage in rural Wales, promotion of food tourism in the Cambrian Mountains and consistent signposting of visitor destinations.
Mr Holt said schemes to promote wildlife and to attract more autumn visitors to Mid Wales could be considered for support from Visit Wales’ tourism product innovation fund and it was open to delegates to consider applications.
Speaking about Broadband connectivity, Mr Mercer said it was a big issue for the farming industry. “We have been working hard with the Welsh Government and providers on really pushing for the roll out of Broadband in Wales,” he added.
“Hopefully, we are seeing some progress. All the marketing in the world is no good unless you have the infrastructure to back it up.”
He also emphasised the importance of linking food and drink tourism with farming. “We sometimes haven’t been ambitious enough,” he said. “There are some huge opportunities out there but we all need to work together to capitalise on them.”
For more information please contact either Val Hawkins, Mid Wales Tourism chief executive, on 01654 702653 or Duncan Foulkes, public relations consultant, on 01686 650818.
A fresh, modern marketing campaign focused on social media is set to put the ‘Real Mid Wales’ on the map to visitors from across the UK.
The campaign was unveiled at the sold out annual Mid Wales Tourism and Business Conference which was attended by 130 guests at The Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells on Friday.
The conference, themed ‘Marketing the Real Mid Wales: A Shared Vision”, was sponsored by NFU Mutual, Aberystwyth and organised by MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents around 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Mid Wales.
MWT Cymru chief executive Val Hawkins and chairman Rowland Rees-Evans encouraged businesses and organisations involved in the tourism industry in the region to work together to promote the ‘Real Mid Wales’ message.
The campaign will focus on the environment and nature, adventure and sport, health and wellbeing and transport routes.
“Those of us fortunate to live in this beautiful part of the country all have our own ideas about what makes the ‘Real Mid Wales’ so special,” said Mr Rees-Evans.
“The challenge for tourism and hospitality businesses is how best to share our enthusiasm to attract visitors.
“With public sector funding under pressure, is it time for the industry to combine resources and collaborate on a concerted campaign to market the Real Mid Wales to target audiences?
“This conference should help to focus all our thoughts on a shared goal: to attract more visitors and investment to Mid Wales.”
Mrs Hawkins said the new marketing campaign would focus on raising visitor awareness about what makes the ‘Real Mid Wales’ special. It would be aimed specifically at the 20 million UK people in the 27 to 40 years age group who use the latest technology.
“We have an opportunity to really put Mid Wales on the map and develop new content in a fresh, modern style,” she added.
Keynote speakers were Welsh naturalist and broadcaster Iolo Williams, Visit Cornwall’s chief executive, Malcolm Bell, Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum chair Steve Hughson, Visit Britain liaison officer Lowri Jones, NFU Mutual hospitality sector specialist Graeme Taylor and Kashing chief executive and co-founder Karen Rossouw.
During his presentation, Mr Williams introduced delegates to a selection of the rare birds, animals, plants, woodland, insects, dolphins and lichens that live in Mid Wales and attract many visitors every year.
One of it’s rarest inhabitants is a female golden eagle in the Tregaron area and he hoped that Mid Wales might in the near future attract a male eagle to give the country its first breeding pair for 450 years.
He mentioned the Dyfi Osprey Project near Machynlleth as an example of wildlife attracting thousands of visitors to the region and said the bottle-nosed dolphins in Cardigan Bay attract tourism business worth £4 million annually.
He welcomed the possibility of beavers being reintroduced to Wales and said they would be another popular attraction. However, he warned that the UK had lost 44 million birds since the 1970s and he was critical that wildlife and the environment continued to suffer in Wales from reduced government funding.
He could not understand why Mount Snowdon attracted 444,000 visitors a year, yet the Mid Wales upland wilderness area of Elenydd, between Abergwesyn and Elan Valley, was often deserted.
“Please look after our wildlife, respect it and make the most of it,” he added. “It’s a valuable resource that we should be tapping into.”
Mr Bell outlined the work of Visit Cornwall and revealed that the county attracts 4.5 million staying visitors annually who spend £1.5 billion. Through sustainable, quality tourism, the organisation seeks to understand and fulfil the dreams of customers.
“We are creating some of the richest memories in people’s lives and it’s all about helping our customers get the best possible experience,” added Mr Bell, who advised delegates to stay in tune with their customers by providing “something real and authentic”.
Mr Hughson, chief executive of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, encouraged tourism businesses to capitalise on the major events held in Mid Wales, such as the Royal Welsh Show, which attracts 240,000 visitors and contributes £20 million to the economy. The average distance travelled by a person attending the show was 138 miles.
“What the Royal Welsh Show does is pull the ‘Real Mid Wales’ together in on place,” he added. “Forty per cent of the people that come to the show are from a non-agricultural background and we are in the entertainment business.
“There is a real cross over between agriculture and tourism and it’s key that we work together. We need to grasp the opportunities that we have on our doorstep to create lasting memories and experiences.”
Lowri Jones outlined the work and marketing campaigns of Visit Britain to attract more visitors and encouraged Mid Wales tourism businesses to contribute content on the themes of food and drink, luxury, rail and gateways.
Mrs Rossouw spoke about the benefits of Kashing’s complete online payment solution to tourism businesses. She said cashless transactions were predicted to increase to £14.5 billion by 2021.
Mr Taylor highlighted the importance of delegates safeguarding their business with insurance cover against cyber crime and many other possible threats.
Adrian Greason-Walker. WTA Policy Advocate. Specialises in Tourism and Environmental Management.