A Welsh tourism tax

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

The Welsh government has announced that it will consult on allowing local areas to raise a tourism tax.

North wales landscape
Snowdonia is one of the areas affec ted by too many tourists

On Friday, the Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA) came out with a determined “no way.”

As yet the government’s plan is for a consultation and the tourism industry seems pretty determined to fight it tooth and nail.

That the government should announce the plan at a time when tourism is struggling seems strange. Despite staycations, domestic tourism hasn’t reached pre-pandemic levels so isn’t the government knocking an industry which has suffered a lot and still faces problems?

In pre-pandemic days, Edinburgh tried to impose a local tax and the Scottish government opposed the idea. But in late 2018, the government caved in to Edinburgh and other places and set up a consultation. The consultation ended shortly before the pandemic so little has been heard since.

It looks like the Welsh government decision will drag out this hoary old chestnut of local taxes again.

From a holidaymaker’s point-of-view it means paying out more and, heaven help us, a 2021 staycation is costing a lot in comparison to previous years as owners of anything travel related milk the opportunity.

For local communities beset by tourism pollution, the lack of affordable local homes because people from elsewhere have bought properties to turn them into holiday homes, the problem is to find a happy mix. Few destinations have been successful.

In the short term, that is for the next two years as the tourism industry recovers, anything which dampens domestic tourism should be avoided.

As it is, when overseas holidays restart in a big way, domestic tourism will drop off.

As the WTA points out, “The average VAT rate within Eurozone countries for instance is 10%”. In the UK it is double that so a significant sum is flowing to the treasury.

One solution could be an agreement between all the governments that half the VAT on tourism be repatriated to the individual countries and ring-fenced for tourism development, support and local community aid?

Allowing local areas to vary tourist tax hikes will just lead to visitors booking properties outside the area but still coming in to use the amenities and attractions as has happened in Manhattan in New York, Venice and Rome in Italy for example.

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