Plans to introduce a statutory registration and licensing scheme announced by the Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden
Firstly and somewhat rather disappointingly, the announcement seems to have been used as a platform to single out self-catering as the problem child once again and repeat the same tired old rhetoric about ‘the negative impact second homes and short-term holiday lets’. Yes, still lumping the sector conveniently in with second homes!
Of particular and concerning note the announcement makes mention of a phased approach - ‘the first phase will be a statutory registration scheme for all accommodation providers, which will – for the first time – provide a register on the broad range of visitor accommodation’. A second phase being a ‘to follow with a licensing scheme’ and a third which looks at introducing quality standards at a later stage? More tax assessment than looking to build a level playing field?
Our initial reaction is that this sounds like it is going way beyond the bounds of what was discussed at consultation and worryingly sounds more like a licensing scheme, rather than a registration or licensing scheme 'lite' after all. This may of course, not be the case as detail is limited in what amounts to a page of quotes:
Anyway, here is the ‘statement’ from Dawn Bowden MS, Deputy Minister with Tourism Portfolio:
‘Plans to introduce a statutory registration and licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation in Wales have been announced by the Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden today (Tuesday, January 9) with legislation expected to be introduced to the Senedd before the end of the year.
The registration and licensing scheme is intended to deliver a register of visitor accommodation types and to enable providers to demonstrate compliance with safety and quality requirements.
It is intended to enhance the visitor experience and visitor safety expectations in Wales by ensuring anyone who lets out visitor accommodation meets a relevant set of standards.
This follows a public consultation, extensive engagement with the sector, as well as a recently published survey that found 89% of visitors considered it important the accommodation they stay in is operating safely.
Many parts of the world have already adopted licensing, certification or registration schemes across their visitor accommodation sectors and the Welsh Government has been considering best practice to design one that is simple and easy to use for accommodation providers in Wales.
Across the UK, Northern Ireland has had a certification scheme established for all visitor accommodation since 1992, with Scotland having recently introduced a licensing scheme for short term lets. The UK Government is also pursuing a registration approach for short term lets.
In Wales, the first phase will be a statutory registration scheme for all accommodation providers, which will – for the first time – provide a register on the broad range of visitor accommodation available across the country and will include details on who is operating in the sector, where they are operating, and how they are operating.
Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden said:
“Tourism makes an important contribution to the Welsh economy and to Welsh life so this information will be crucial in helping us better understand the sector, as well as helping to inform future policy decisions at a local and national level.
“The visitor economy is changing rapidly, and while the growth of online booking platforms has brought many benefits, there are concerns around compliance with existing requirements and the impact of short-term lets on housing stock and our communities.
“I’d like to thank businesses across the visitor economy for the enormous resilience they’ve shown through the unprecedented challenges of recent years. The input from the sector, visitors and communities has been invaluable to our work so far. We will continue this engagement as we develop the scheme.” Once a registration scheme is fully established, the intention is to follow with a licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation. This will initially focus on confirming compliance with safety requirements visitor accommodation providers should already be meeting, before looking at introducing quality standards at a later stage. The Welsh Government’s Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru commits to a statutory licensing scheme for holiday lets as part of a package of measures to address the negative impact second homes and short-term holiday lets can have on the availability and affordability of housing for local people in communities’.