20th September 2022
This consultation is the chance for those who work in the Welsh tourism industry, supporting jobs and the self-employed in local communities, to make it plain how misguided and damaging this bed tax would be. Visitor numbers have not recovered since the pandemic. Our hospitality businesses are still struggling with staff shortages, trying to meet local demand as well as visitor custom. Long-standing, locally owned family accommodation businesses have been hit with tax changes imposed by a Welsh Government which admits it had not even assessed the impact of those changes.
Like all businesses across the UK - and our customers - we have been winded by the cost-of-living crisis. The effects of that, as we recall from the last recession, will last for some considerable time. Now, after twenty years of Welsh Government campaigns to raise the number of overnight visits to Wales, it is targeting the very businesses who have invested in that strategy. It has not gone for higher parking charges for day visitors or entry fees to vulnerable landscapes: it has gone for the staying guest who spends more and drives less.
Wales is not like destinations which already charge a tourism tax. They enjoy other targeted tax cuts for tourism and hospitality which mitigate the effect on their businesses. Also, unlike many other countries, the current plans will see any tax take disappear into local authority coffers without any guarantee of additional local spend, as Welsh Government intends, on improving facilities used by visitors. Such facilities are also used by local people, of course.
This is not the time for tourism businesses to stay silent. They need to tell Welsh Government about the practical implications on their work, on them as self-employed risk-takers, about their existing contribution to the local and national economy and the cumulative effect of this and other policies affecting tourism in Wales. And, if the Labour and Plaid Cymru Co-Operation Agreement means that Welsh Government proceeds regardless of the damage, Welsh tourism businesses must have influence on how any tax is spent. They have the lived experience, they have the expertise and the focus to rescue something from this, without the temptation to divert it into other services. The communities which benefit from tourism must also speak out. Every penny that goes in tourism tax is a penny less spent in the local community and less money supporting local jobs.
Wales Tourism Alliance
Chair: Suzy Davies
Tel: 07540 964678