Welsh tourism alarm at prospect of new tax

A Welsh tourism tax could have a “devastating effect” on businesses and mean fewer visitors, say industry bosses in Wales.

Welsh ministers will decide next year whether to ask UK ministers if they can introduce such a tax, one of four potential new taxes being considered.

It could mean a small nightly charge for visitors staying in accommodation.

The Wales Tourism Alliance said this tax would be “a severe blow to our industry and its competitiveness in Wales”.

Outlining its objections, the alliance said: “The visitor to Wales already spends less in Wales (c£29) than in England (c£34) or Scotland (c£46). A tourism tax will deter them further.

“It will inevitably lead to a reduced spend when we should be encouraging it.”

Thomas Scarrott, a holiday park owner, told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Wales programme that a tourism tax would raise the cost of holidays.

He told the BBC: “If it [tourism tax] comes to Wales then it would have devastating effects, not just on the tourism industry, but on other businesses that rely on the tourism industry, pubs, shops, cafes, visitor attractions. All of these would see an adverse knock-on effect.”

He praised Visit Wales’ Year of Legends campaign and tourism promotion in Wales, but said a tourism tax could “undo all of that good work”.

Pembrokeshire Tourism estimates that tourists bring almost £600 million a year to the county but there are concerns a tourism tax would cut that income.

Dennis O’Connor, tourism liaison manager at the tourism body, told the BBC: “It will stop some people coming to Pembrokeshire on holiday if a tax is introduced.

“If there is no tourist tax across the border in England, then it is going to be more attractive to them.

“It risks the valuable economy we have, which is worth about £5 billion.”

A Welsh government spokesman told the BBC that the power to propose new taxes was “important” and could be used to deliver “improvements for our communities”.