The Welsh Government is proposing to give local authorities across Wales the power to introduce a discretionary visitor levy, which would be added to other new tourism legislative changes.
These changes include the threshold for self-catering accommodation for tax purposes and a proposed statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation in Wales.
Mr Greason-Walker appealed to tourism businesses to show the Welsh Government the strength of feeling that had been expressed to the WTA against the proposed visitor levy in their responses at https://gov.wales/visitor-levy .
“We have entered a far more economically challenging period than has been seen over the last 20 years,” he said. “The Welsh Government’s own Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment highlights the severe economic conditions that tourism businesses are currently facing.
“As we know from the very recent past, the economic tail of a recession is long and this time the effects of inflation and rising costs will only exacerbate the position.
“We have already asked if the Welsh Government will abandon the proposals if the majority of respondents to the consultation say they don’t want the tourism tax.”
He went on to say that it was also “deeply regrettable” that legitimate self-catering businesses were being caught up in the second homes issue. “We will now see seismic changes to the way self-catering accommodation is assessed for property taxation in Wales,” he added.
The changes will see the number of days a self-catering property must be available to let in a year rise from 140 to 252 and the days it is actually let increase from 70 to 182. Local authorities will have the powers to triple the council tax premium to 300% for self-catering properties that do not meet the new criteria.
Opposition from WTA and others, including 400 responses from the industry, seemed to have been largely ignored by the Welsh Government, said Mr Greason-Walker
On the question of statutory licensing of all visitor accommodation, Mr Greason-Walker said the only way a visitor tax would work would be if local authorities were able to identify every tourism accommodation provider in their area.
A registration scheme, rather than a difficult to manage licensing scheme, would ensure a level playing field, although some local authorities were questioning whether enough tax would be raised to cover staffing costs.
Rowland Rees-Evans, MWT Cymru’s chairman, said he and others had questioned the Welsh Government why it had not conducted a proper impact assessment on the tourism tax proposal, but there had been no answer.
Mrs Hawkins expressed concern about the wider impact of the Welsh Government’s new legislative proposals on town centres, shops, cafes and attractions whose income is topped up by visitor spend.
“These proposed changes could impact local jobs and future employment prospects for young people if they result in fewer visitors to Mid Wales,” she warned.
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