Can Wales have too many tourists?

Our National Correspondent Rob Osborne looks at whether Wales can really cope with the large influx of visitors seen over the last year.

It has been a bumper summer for Welsh tourism, with international travel restrictions and mandatory coronavirus PCR tests prompting many to explore places closer to home.

But can there be such a thing as too many tourists?

While many businesses welcomed the influx of visitors after the pandemic forced them to close in 2020, others have warned that the industry here is at a "tipping point" due to a lack of respect for some of Wales' beauty spots.

Jayne Wainwright runs a hotel in Capel Curig and she says this year was so busy that every day felt like a bank holiday due to the amount of tourists.

Hotelier Jayne Wainwright says she is in favour of a tourism tax but thinks it must be ring-fenced.

"Parking has been a huge issue. At the beginning - when people were returning when regulations were relaxed - they were parking literally everywhere, which in some cases meant you couldn't have even got emergency vehicles through."

Jayne says many of those going to Snowdonia this summer seemed to be first-time visitors who could not go abroad due to restrictions.

She says the infrastructure is currently not in place to deal with the sheer volume of people and things must change.

As a way of rectifying that, she is in favour of tourism tax. In principle, it would work by charging visitors higher prices in order to pay for the infrastructure needed to protect the local environment.

But Jayne says she struggles to see how it would work if it was not ring-fenced, as it would be just lost in amongst all other taxes.

For the team at Snowdonia's National Park, one of the big problems they have had to deal with over the summer is huge amounts of litter left in the area.

Angele Jones from the Snowdonia National Park Authority says this year has been the busiest year that the park has ever had and it has been "extremely challenging."

"Littering has been exceptionally difficult this year, it's been very difficult to keep a handle on that," she said.

"Because of Covid restrictions, our café and the summit building on top of Snowdon have been closed. The toilets have been closed there as well and that has caused issues."

With the facilities being shut, Angele says people have had to find alternative places to go to the toilet when visiting the mountain.

She says the National Park is now running a campaign, calling on visitors to be respectful of the area.

They are also being asked to plan before they visit and think of travelling to different areas of the park to try and limit the amount of congestion.

Gwynedd councillor Gareth Thomas says that tourism plays an important role in supporting local economies, but more consideration needs to be given to those living in tourist hotspots.

Councillor Thomas says visitors need to respect local areas to protect them.

"We want tourist to come who respect our culture, our environment and our people and we're seeing a lot of things at the moment which show people don't respect things when they come here.

"Local people accept tourism, it's a very important industry, lots of people are employed by the tourist industry but there is going to be a tipping point.

"We are very close at the moment, it is the way things have been for the last two years.

"There's a lack of respect from tourists at the moment."

Over-tourism has been a subject of debate recently. Credit: Daily Post Wales

A large amount of the council's budget this year has been diverted to cope with the problems caused by tourists, especially in collecting litter on local beaches.

In response to that, Councillor Thomas also favours the idea of a tourism tax, to help build up the area's infrastructure to deal with this new demand. He believes a tax will not put people off coming to Wales.

But like Jayne Wainwright, he thinks it must be ring-fenced, saying otherwise it will just get lost amongst all other taxes and the problem of too many visitors will remain unsolved.

See more on this story on Sharp End here.