Wales tourism tax would be 'unfair' and 'catastrophic' for hospitality industry, say businesses

*Video report by ITV Wales reporter Rob Shelley

Businesses working in Wales' hospitality industry have warned a potential tourism tax would be 'catastrophic' for the sector as it recovers from the pandemic.

The Welsh Government has confirmed a consultation on proposals for a local visitor levy will launch in autumn 2022.

A tourism tax could be introduced in a bid to raise revenue for local authorities that could then be used to manage services and infrastructure.

The consultation period follows the cooperation agreement signed by the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

The tax could see an additional charge to overnight stays in Wales, however, businesses in the hospitality sector say it could be catastrophic.

Rhys Williams, owner of the Dunoon Hotel in Llandudno, told ITV Wales: "The people who actually place the most strain on resources and the local environment are day trippers.

"They are the people who load up at home, buy their goods locally, come out for the day and leave what's left behind.

"In the meantime, they snarl up the roads and the parking.

"To introduce what is essentially a bed tax would be pretty catastrophic. Are they [Welsh Government] really going to put financial barriers up on coming into the country?"

Rebecca Evans, minister for finance and local government, said a levy would enable destinations in Wales to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Ms Evans said: “Visitor levies are a common feature in tourist destinations internationally.

"They are an opportunity for visitors to make an investment in local infrastructure and services, which in turn make tourism a success.

"Without such a levy, local communities face an undue burden to fund local services and provisions on which tourists rely.

"From keeping the beaches and pavements clean, through to maintaining local parks, toilets and footpaths – the critical infrastructure that supports tourism should be supported by all those that rely on it.

“The levy would be proportionate by design, and powers to raise the levy would be discretionary for local authorities. This would enable decisions to be taken locally, according to the needs of our communities."

Llandudno is a popular destination for both long and short stays Credit: Visit Wales

Many countries in Europe already operate tourism taxes, or city taxes, many of which vary in amount within countries. In Spain for example, visitors pay up to 3% on the cost of their accommodation in Barcelona, but there is no such charge in Madrid.

However, those in opposition to the proposals are also concerned of the timing of any such implementation, especially as the industry has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic.

Simon Bayliss of Llandudno Hospitality Association told ITV Wales: "This coming on the back of the pandemic would be awful.

"What they often fail to realise as well is that we are competing for customers with areas such as the lake district. This would make us less competitive."

Formal consultation on draft legislative proposals for a visitor levy will launch in the autumn, providing a platform for a range of views to be considered.