Peter Fox MS (Monmouth): What discussions has the Minister had with the Minister for Economy about the impact of the Welsh Government’s draft Non-Domestic Rating (Amendment of Definition of Domestic Property) (Wales) Order 2022 on the tourism industry?
The Minister said she held a roundtable meeting with Ministers for Economy, Climate Change and Education and Welsh Language on 7 February to discuss the outcome of the consultation on local taxes for second homes and self-catering accommodation.
Peter Fox MS said the WG’s proposed changes to raise the occupancy criteria to be classed as a business by 160% has caused quite a stir within the tourism industry. Such a change has caused concern among many accommodation providers who are currently experiencing a fragility of bookings. Analysis by the Wales Tourism Alliance, UK Hospitality Cymru and the Professional Association of Self-Caterers shows that the majority of respondents to the WG’s original consultation supported aligning the rules in Wales to those proposed by HMRC in England – a threshold of 105 days compared to the current threshold of 70. He asked about why the WG has decided to pursue proposals that a large proportion of the tourism sector in Wales don’t agree with.
The Minister said around 1,000 responses were received to the WG’s recent consultation on proposals to changes to local taxes and the views which were collected did support a change to the criteria. The WG believes that self-catering properties should be let out on a frequent enough basis to make a real contribution to the local economy and that those which aren’t such be subject to council tax. She had an excellent meeting with the Wales Tourism Alliance very recently and she is currently considering the 1,500 responses that they received.
Mark Isherwood MS (North Wales): What discussions has the Minister had with the Minister for Economy regarding the provision of financial support for the tourism sector in North Wales?
The Minister said she regularly engages with the Economy Minister on a range of issues and the WG has delivered a budget allocation of over £16.9m per year to support tourism throughout Wales over the next 3 year period, including 8 projects in North Wales.
Mark Isherwood MS said self-catering accommodation is key to North Wales’ tourism sector and noted that last month he highlighted concerns in the Chamber raised by actual legitimate Welsh holiday let businesses that the Welsh Government’s local taxation proposals would devastate them. He asked whether the WG can really be serious about their occupancy limits given the evidence submitted in the report produced by Wales Tourism Alliance, UK Hospitality Cymru and the Professional Association of Self-Caterers which found that only less than 1% of the respondents to the WG’s consultation (just 9 people) supported the occupancy threshold supported by Welsh Government.
The Minister said over 1,000 responses were received to the 12-week consultation, many of which supported the increase in the number of nights which a property must be offered for or actually let. She has also met with the Wales Tourism Alliance and discussed specific points regarding planning conditions on certain properties. She has committed to explore this further and is currently taking advice on the matter.