Comments over 'damaging' and 'anti-English' proposed tourism tax ignite online debate

The Welsh Government is planning to launch a public consultation in the autumn over a proposed tourism tax, after recent concerns about 'over tourism'. Credit: PA Images

Comments by a leading tourism industry figure that a controversial tourism tax would damage the Welsh economy and represented an "anti-English" agenda have ignited an online debate.

The Welsh Government is planning to launch a public consultation on a tourism tax - or visitor levy - in the autumn, after recent concerns about 'over tourism', with some local people in areas saying they were being overrun by tourists

The visitor levy could see an additional charge to overnight stays in Wales, with local councils then having the choice of whether to implement it or not in their areas.

Ashford Price, of the Welsh Association of Visitor Attractions (WAVA), said he felt a tourism tax would be damaging for the holiday sector and was "anti-English" in its nature.

His comments have caused a stir online, with several people commenting on either sides of the debate around the proposed tourism tax.

Long lies of tourist queues formed atop Snowdonia last year Credit: Daily Post Wales

A number of people said they would avoid going to Wales on holiday if such a charge was introduced.

One person wrote online: "I holiday in Wales three times a year but due to costs of fuel etc going up that is now only going to be once this year.

"If another tax has to be paid just for holidaying in Wales, that will stop altogether."

Meanwhile, another person suggested that Wales had to remain economically competitive with the likes of Devon and Cornwall when it came to attracting visitors, saying: "I for one wouldn't go somewhere in the UK if they charged extra just for going there.

"I'd visit the other places in the country."

The Welsh Government is due to launch a public consultation on a tourism tax in the autumn Credit: PA Images

Several people said they felt holidaying in the UK was already an expensive commitment, and that the recent staycation boom was fuelled by a lack of overseas alternatives rather than a desire for a cheaper break.

Mr Price also expressed a fear that the cost of living crisis will put a break on domestic tourism and a tourism tax will only exacerbate the problem.

A regular domestic holidaymaker agreed, saying: "I pay far more for my family holiday than I would if self-booking a foreign holiday.

"Accommodation is more expensive, eating out is more expensive, and the need to buy petrol, pay for car parking and pay for attractions when the weather is dull all add extra costs to a British holiday.

"A tourist tax in England, Wales and Scotland would render the trip uneconomic."

However, many people said they were in favour of such a tax and that a visitor levy would allow for more investment that benefitted locals and visitors.

Opinions are split on the proposed visitor levy Credit: PA Images

One person wrote: "A tourist tax would enable more to be invested in local services that would benefit locals and visitors alike, therefore increasing the value of the offer.

"And if a few don't want to pay then so be it, stay away, there's not a shortage of people wanting to come and enjoy all Wales has to offer."

Some people believe that charging tourists extra will help moderate the summer crowds that, in some places, seemingly overwhelmed local communities.

"If someone chooses not to come here because they have to pay an extra £1 a night then they’re not likely to be people who were going to be spending a lot anyway," said one person in favour of a visitor levy.

"Tourism is important but the communities where tourism is centered is important too. If this tax will help with the upkeep then it’s a better experience for all."

Similar views were expressed by others, noting that accommodation prices in Wales have "gone through the roof anyway".

One person said: "Every quality tourist area in countries and regions worthwhile visiting, charges a tourist tax. North Wales is a high quality tourist area, capable of attracting high quality visitors, to whom a modest tourist tax is no problem."

The Welsh Government has said visitor levies are commonplace across the world, with revenues used to benefit local communities, tourists and businesses and promised to consider all views in this autumn's consultation.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has said he believes a visitor levy could help ease the burden on local ratepayers, who currently pay for many of the services and facilities used by visitors such as car parks and toilets.

A spokesperson added: "The careful process of developing proposals for a levy, translating them into legislation, and then into delivery and implementation spans years, and will be subject to approval by the Senedd."