From when the Welsh Government first started to lay out its proposals for a Tourism levy (or as we would rather call it a bed tax) the WTA and our partners have made it clear to the Welsh Government that our members reject any form of Tourism Levy being applied to accommodation providers across Wales.
Our objections to the tax broadly revolve around:
- Poor timing: In the middle of a cost of living and energy crises, political tension and post pandemic
- Potential economic damage that would be wrought if imposed given the decrease in demand with regard to price elasticity
- The cost of implementing and policing a tax and the unfair nature of doing so without a suitable registration scheme
- The lack of an economic impact assessment that reviews the cumulative impact of a raft of new proposals
- This is only focused on accommodation, why not other sectors?
The Welsh Government’s Programme for Government, and the now ‘infamous’ Co-operation Agreement between them and Plaid Cymru contain commitments to introduce levies. Rebecca Evans, MS, the minister for Finance & Local Government has stated that a levy would enable destinations in Wales to be enjoyed for generations to come and that 'A tourism tax would raise revenue for local authorities enabling them to manage services and infrastructure which makes tourism a success'. Following the formal Consultation which closed on the 13/12/2022, we have recently been informed that legislation enabling local authorities to introduce a visitor levy in their areas will be put to the Senedd within this government term, which ends in 2026. A bit slower this time perhaps, maybe as a result of the Welsh Government having learnt from their rapid introduction of the 182 Day threshold?
However, whilst we remain firmly in-principle against the introduction of a Tourism Levy, following Rebecca Evans MS most recent announcement and meeting with the Visitor Economy Group, where Adrian Greason-Walker was directly able to question, we now believe given recent Welsh Government form they will push ahead regardless of industry objection. Before we place all the impetus for this at Labour’s door it is worth noting Plaid Cymru’s response from Designated Member Cefin Campbell MS who has said: ‘Giving local people the power to introduce a tourism levy will make a difference to communities across the country, many of which attract a significant number of tourists. It will give local people and their representatives more power and resources to invest and deliver in their areas.
Councils will be able to ask tourists to contribute in a small way to the areas they are visiting and the local services they use. This measure will help support a sustainable rather than an extractive tourism sector, which will help bring the greatest benefit to communities and the local economy.
Although without a complete economic impact assessment in place we have to question the wisdom of the above statement?