Out of interest....it is worth noting developments to the so called 'Tourism Tax' around the UK. In particular a recent response by Scottish Tourism Alliance to proposals being made by the Highland Council for such a tax. It looks as if the Council, in a recent consultation report has disregarded much of the advice, views and insights of three Chambers of Commerce – Inverness, Caithness and Fort William and five other business groups who strongly oppose the introduction of a tourist tax on the basis of the significant harm it would have on the tourism economy. This is in light of what is noted as 'at a time when Highland tourism is not as ‘booming’ as previously reported'.
An alarming omissions from the consultation, which we as an industry need to keep reiterating across the UK, is the consultation makes no mention of the fact that a tourist tax would be introduced in the context of the UK having one of the highest rates of VAT and even states that there are ‘no risks’, when in reality, the introduction of a tourist tax would have widespread, far reaching negative impacts. Also of interest according to the report’s data, is that of those who indicated that a Tourism Tax would influence their future behaviour, 52.3% indicated that a tourist tax would influence their decision to ‘go elsewhere’ which could mean that the Highlands loses 45,000 visitors and around £16 million in visitor spend a year which is significantly higher than the £5 – £10 million the Council would see a tourist tax generating.
Watch this space.
Of note a recent statement from WEFO -
'The Welsh Government continues to work with partners in Wales to develop a new regional investment framework to replace the EU Structural and Investment Funds should the UK leave the EU. A two-year OECD project has been underway since January to help ensure international best practice and effective regional governance are built into our future plans. As part of the project, the OECD visited Wales between 25 and 29 November to inform its work and broaden engagement.....The Regional Investment for Wales Steering Group, chaired by Huw Irranca-Davies AM, continues to meet to draw on knowledge and experience from its members. The Group has met several times this year and will next meet again on 17 December. Membership, papers and minutes from these meetings can be found: Regional Investment in Wales Steering Group. The four sub groups, established during the summer, continue to meet monthly to help take forward the detail specific work, including the drafting of the consultation document for launch early next year'.
Welsh Government’s response to the National Assembly for Wales’ Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee Report on Access to Banking
Welsh Government Response to the report on 'Access to Banking'
The Welsh Government has now responded to the inquiry which gathered information about the social and economic impact of bank closures in Wales. The inquiry examined the impact of bank branch closures in Wales on local businesses, consumers and the Welsh economy and explored what steps could be taken to address any issues identified.
The inquiry examined the current position regarding access to banking services in Wales, including financial inclusion and digital inclusion. It also looked into the ways in which branch closures and access to free ATMs can affect local communities including the impact on business in general and tourism. The WTA was called to give evidence.
The Welsh Government has accepted in part, full or in-principle 12 of the 14 recommendations.
The WG response can be found on the Committee's pages at: https://www.assembly.wales/en/bus-home/committees/Pages/Committee-Profile.aspx?cid=446
What we would What the Tourism Industry Needs to thrive and grow - There needs to be a reconsideration post-Election, Brexit or no Brexit, of all UK government support provided to the Tourism Industry in Wales. It is an opportunity for a fresh look at the needs of the tourism industry across the UK and the returns which will be obtained from a more realistic level of 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 in the UK and specifically Wales.
More generally, the WTA would like to see greater political recognition of the value of the Tourism Industry too Wales, all to often there is little direct mention in the Party manifestos.
Visitors contribute an annual spend of c£6.2 billion to the Welsh economy - The current level of UK and via Welsh Government support for investment in the industry from all its various support schemes, has probably been running at no more than £10 million annually. The Tourism Industry in Wales needs its fair share of UK Government support post the election of a new Government in Westminster. The industry should have a specific allocation of funding linked to the new Development Framework and Strategy 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 £20 million annually would not be out of place bearing in mind the size of tourism contribution to GDP and its further growth potential.
A Meaningful Marketing Budget for Wales - 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 UK alongside Welsh Government support is vital for the effective marketing of the industry via Visit Britain. By comparison with competitor destinations, the current marketing budget available to Visit Wales is small by comparison. The WTA looks to the UK Government via Visit Britain to increase the scope and level of assistance given to Visit Wales to develop key markets for Wales overseas, including those markets now served by international airlines using airports in close proximity to Wales.
Taxation Policies which promote the Competitiveness of the Industry - We note the Liberal Democrats and others references to Local Tourism Taxation - the WTA does not see this as a way forward. 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 on any new UK Government to reduce the rate to a more competitive level for the industry. In addition we call for a review of the principles and practice underlying the present system of Business Rates. Within the responsibilities of the new UK Government, the WTA urges the avoidance of any further taxation measures which would affect the competitiveness of the industry.
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 they will continue to be needed. New policies and legislation needs to realistically reflect this.
Ensuring Key Tourism Infrastructure - Key tourism services and infrastructure provided by local authorities is undoubtedly disappearing because of financial pressures across Wales and the UK. The WTA proposes that the new UK Government works with the Welsh Government to seek ways in which the impact of public expenditure reductions might be ameliorated in Wales.
Wales Tourism Alliance - November 2019
Plaid Cymru makes direct reference to Tourism’s importance in Wales - ‘Plaid Cymru recognises the importance of the tourism industry across Wales as an employer and in attracting investment into the country. We want to promote Wales as a high quality, sustainable tourism destination with activities and experiences based on our natural resources, our produce, our unique coastline and landscape, and our language, culture and heritage. We will increase funding for tourism promotion for Wales to take its place amongst the best destinations world-wide. Currently, the tourism industry is held back by unfair taxes and a Government that is failing to promote Wales as a global tourist destination. Plaid Cymru want to see tourism VAT on hospitality cut to 9% to put Wales ahead in the international tourism market’.
Plaid also want to improve the tourist experience by ensuring that:
- There is joined-up services and knowledge so that tourists can stay close to events.
- Hotels have access to the latest tourism information.
- That Public transport is available when required.
- The development of locally-run municipal camping sites in our towns and cities.
They also propose the launch of a ‘Celebrate Wales year’ to stimulate tourism across the country.
Plaid Cymru references...
Fair Funding for Wales – They state the Barnett Formula for distributing funding to the devolved nations has been largely unchanged for forty years and is not fit for purpose. Plaid Cymru believes it should be replaced by an Office for Fair Funding, with a statutory obligation to deliver geographic wealth convergence across the UK.
Taxation - Plaid would reverse the British Government’s planned cut on corporation tax. Cancelling the planned cut from 19% to 17% due in 2020. They also propose an increase to the employee rate of National Insurance Contributions for higher rate and additional rate taxpayers from 2 per cent to 4 cent raising an estimated £2bn a year.
Economic Development - Economic powers currently reserved to Westminster that should be devolved to enable to Welsh Government to develop a more coherent economic development strategy to include: The Crown Estate Water Ports and harbours Maritime Coastguard Agency and full control of the Wales and Border rail franchise Network Rail operation in Wales.
A Welsh Migration System - They state ‘Plaid Cymru has consistently called for the rights of all EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU to be legally protected’.
Broadband - Creating a publicly-owned Welsh Broadband Infrastructure Company to guarantee access to full-fibre broadband to every home and business in Wales by 2025.
Rail - Electrification of all major rail lines by 2030 and they propose a wide range of rail improvement projects including the creation of a trans-Wales railway and a Cross-Rail for the Valleys.
Bus - Expanding the Traws Cymru bus network with high-quality coaches powered by renewable sources of energy.
Electric Vehicle Charging Network - They will invest in a national electric vehicle charging network across Wales, starting the transition towards a wholly electric fleet of public sector vehicles and increased use of private EVs.
The full manifesto can be found here:
The tourism-related policies
Lib Dem manifesto - a full version of which can be downloaded from:
We are very pleased to announce that Jim Jones, Managing Director of North Wales Tourism is the New Vice-Chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance. Whilst largely an Honourary position, as recently announced Business Person of the Year (Daily Post Award) Jim brings a great deal of expertise and knowledge with him. After leaving the forces he worked in local government heading up the tourism and communities department at Conwy Council and is now on a mission to sell North Wales to the world via NWT. Jim is passionate about working in partnership to promote the region's spectacular landscape, heritage, culture, food and drink, accommodation along with the adventure and family attractions. North Wales Tourism has a growing membership of more than 1,000 industry members.
The main tourism-related policies are:
The Conservative Party manifesto is available on the following link
Key Tourism-related policies include:
Link to Manifest: https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Real-Change-Labour-Manifesto-2019.pdf
The forty ninth meeting of the Caravan & Camping Forum for Wales (CCFW) took place on Tuesday 22 October 2019 at the Media Resource Centre, Oxford Road, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 6AH. WTA Policy Advisor, Adrian Greason-Walker was present.
The meeting reviewed the market and discussed the 2019 season. In summary, it was noted that the weather had had a significant impact on the main summer months, with touring occupancy down and some parks having to cancel customer bookings due to the weather conditions. Generally it was reported that there was a very mixed picture with people looking for value in terms of activities and accommodation. Four-star family holiday parks had seen the strongest occupancy levels over the summer months. It was also believed that Brexit uncertainty continued to impact holiday choices, but the increase in the popularity of the ‘staycation’ had been a positive for parks.
Tourism Tax - The meeting noted the Scottish consultation on a proposed Scottish Tourist Tax. Mr Greason-Walker reported that Jason Thomas, Cadw had spoken of a Welsh Consultation on a Tourist Tax at the recent Visit Wales Roadshows. It was noted that both Conwy County Borough Council and Gwynedd County Council were looking into consultations on the tax.
Draft National Planning Framework 2020-2040 - It was reported that the consultation period for the Draft National Planning Framework had been extended to 15 November 2019 and that consultation sessions had been held across Wales during September and October. It was noted that the consultation was on high-level objectives, highlighting that the Framework was a form of guidance.
Rating revaluation - The meeting noted the ongoing revaluation and that costs of park business had increased as well as the higher rates received for high quality letting which might impact on overall averages. It was noted that the process for appeals from 2017 had begun.
Electric cars - The meeting discussed the increased popularity in electric cars and the impact that a lack of charging infrastructure could have on the industry, rural and coastal economies. Mrs Pritchard reported that the BH&HPA had written to the Secretary of State for Transport raising concerns and seeking guidance on the transition to electric vehicles and had received a response from the Minister for Transport. The response had highlighted that Government expected the transition to be consumer and market led, but that Government intervention would be considered in areas of market failure.
Mr Greason-Walker highlighted the appointment of Helen Whately MP as UK Tourism Minister and her attendance at the recent Tourism Sector Deal conference. The meeting noted that the notion of ‘tourism zones’ was to be discussed but at present there was little indication on budget or a Welsh proposal and whether this would be a particular area in Wales.
Mr Greason-Walker reported on the inquiry into access to banking which highlighted the importance of cash to businesses and consumers, especially in rural and coastal areas. It was discussed how access to cash machines was crucial to the future of cash availability and how the government and the consumer would be involved in paying for them.
It was confirmed that Wales Tourism Week for 2020 would be Monday 4 May – Friday 8 May 2020, with the evening reception on Tuesday 5 May 2020.