Three organisations representing the tourism industry in Wales have joined forces to urge the Welsh Assembly Members to urgently investigate the issue of rising business rates which they say are a disincentive to future investment. Tourism businesses across Wales are faced with business rate increases of between 40 and 100 per cent next year, putting extreme pressure on them.
The Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA), Wales Association of Self Catering Operators (WASCO) and British Hospitality Association (BHA) are calling on the AMs to support some form of tax exemption for businesses that invest in tourism enterprises.
At a recent National Assembly for Wales’ Cross-party Group on Tourism representatives from WTA including Adrian Barsby, Chair, the BHA Chief Executive, David Chapman and WASCO secretary, Jan Meulendijk, former chair of WASCO and its advisor on business rates met with AMs to discuss the issue. Mr Meulendijk gave an in-depth presentation highlighting the escalation of business rates from three per cent of revenue in 2000 to between 12 and 15 per cent. Proposals for 2017 will see his own rates almost double.
Self-catering operators will be under even greater pressure to make money during their peak season to compensate for months of lower revenue, just to cover the extra business rates. This should be seen in light of the fact that – unfortunately – out-of-season business has already suffered year on year after the 2008 recession, and even peak-time business has taken serious hits.
“It seems many tourism businesses are seeing proposed increases of 40 to 70 per cent, with some exceptional cases more than 100 per cent,” said Mr Barsby. “For larger businesses, this represents many thousands of pounds. Since the business rates were last assessed in 2010, the income of many businesses has not kept pace with cost base increases”.
“I think it’s very positive that the three main tourism bodies representing tourism businesses in Wales are in unison on this issue.”
The Cross-party Group on Tourism is chaired by Suzy Davies, Conservative AM for South Wales West with Secretariat provided by WTA.