Visitors to Wales should pay a tourism tax 'for their own facilities', says Gwynedd council boss

Cars are seen parked at the Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd. Credit: Media Wales

The leader of Gwynedd Council says tourists visiting the area should pay a tourism tax if they expect access to local infrastructure.

In the autumn, a tourism tax, or levy, for those staying overnight in Wales will be considered as part of a Welsh Government consultation.

In an interview with S4C’s current affairs programme,Y Byd ar Bedwar, Dyfrig Siencyn  argued that “Gwynedd’s taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for tourist facilities”.

“We can’t provide the infrastructure to solve the issue", he continued.

“That’s the truth. When you’ve got to work with a tight budget, we have some very, very tough decisions to make.”

Dyfrif Siencyn, leader of Gwynedd Council, support a tourism tax for Wales. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales/S4C

He added: “Why should Gwynedd’s taxpayers pay for provisions for visitors, shouldn’t they the tourists themselves be the ones to pay for their own facilities?” 

Last year the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales became the UK’s 33rd UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the lead-up to its first summer since receiving the status, the area is expecting even more visitors.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, 7.8 million visited the area in 2019, an increase of 11.6% compared to the previous year.

Eric Baylis is part of a local clean up group and says he often comes across human faeces left by visitors. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales/S4C

Eric Baylis, a volunteer for Keep Llanberis Tidy, says the group come across human faeces in the village almost every weekend as the toilets are closed overnight. 

He would like to see the council invest in more bins and toilets that are open 24 hours a day that would cost 20p to use. 

He’s also supportive of introducing the tourist tax.

“It won’t cost a fraction of the tourists’ spending in the village,” he said.

“What you get is ‘We’ve paid for the hotel, we use the tourist facilities available’. But a pound a night is nothing!”

The Welsh Government will launch a consultation on tourism tax in the autumn, but they haven’t yet revealed how much it would cost. These taxes are used in other parts of the world; in Bulgaria, for example, you could pay €0.10 a night, whereas in Belgium, the tax can be as high as €7.50.

Marian Williams is worried that a tourism tax will impact her camping business. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales/S4C

Marian Williams is one of 18,000 people who works in Gwynedd’s tourism sector, and she’s worried the change will put additional pressure on her business on the Llyn Peninsula. 

“There’s more paperwork, and then people feel like, “well no, Wales wants to take more of our money, we’ll stay in England,” she said. 

“So, I don’t think it’s a good time to do anything extra now.”

When we asked those who were visiting Marian’s campsite over the half term holidays, whether they would pay the tax, one said: “I would because I think, at the end of the day, the people who live here, they’ve got to earn a living.” 

However, another visitor wasn’t so supportive: “I don’t think it should be introduced at all, but I feel that if they do it now, I feel such a large majority of people will choose elsewhere to visit in the UK.”

For more on this story, watch Y Byd ar Bedwar on S4C Monday 20 June at 20:00.