Russell George MS with Bywater Leisure Parks’ managing director Dylan Roberts, associate director Ed Glover and Morben Isaf Holiday Home and Touring Park joint manager Sarah Lewis.
The managing director of a company that owns caravan holiday home parks across Mid Wales has warned that the Welsh Government could jeopardise the recovery of the tourism industry if it introduces a proposed tourism tax.
Dylan Roberts, managing director of Bywater Leisure Parks and the British Holiday and Home Parks Association’s Mid Wales director, issued the warning yesterday (Monday), at the start of Wales Tourism Week - May 16-22.
“We are very concerned as an industry that the recovery could be derailed by the introduction of a proposed tourism tax by the Welsh Government, especially if it’s administered by each local authority with no parity across Wales,” said Mr Roberts, who lives in Bow Street, near Aberystwyth.
“We ought to be encouraging more people to visit Wales rather than potentially threatening the future of businesses that depend on the money spent by visitors.
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on the tourism sector. However, the staycation trend has highlighted the importance of domestic tourism to both the economy and people’s wellbeing.”
He made the comments after welcoming Montgomeryshire’s MS Russell George to Morben Isaf Holiday Home and Touring Park at Derwenlas, near Machynlleth, a five star park which has recently invested £750,000 in an exclusive development of 16 pitches for holiday lodges and static caravans.
The park - https://www.morbenisaf.co.uk/dyfi-view - now has pitches for 112 holiday homes.
Mr George said: “A tourism tax would be hugely damaging to the tourism industry and the wider economy. When I meet industry representatives, they clearly demonstrate the damage this tax would cause.”
He added: “I welcome the continued investment being made by Bywater Leisure Parks in Dyfi View at Morben Isaf which is being sensitively developed alongside the Dyfi Osprey Project.
“We need the tourism industry to bounce back stronger than what it was pre-pandemic with the help of new trends such as staycations and new eco-friendly tourist attractions.
“The industry is hugely important for the economy of Mid Wales, supporting our local businesses as well as highlighting Powys as a destination to visit. Tourism is one of the largest contributors to local jobs, local businesses and the local economy and therefore it is of the upmost important that we continue to support the industry.”
Mr George was given a guided tour of the park by Mr Roberts, Ed Glover, Bywater Leisure Parks’ associate director and Sarah Lewis, who manages the park with her husband, Ben.
Mr Roberts emphasised that the UK Camping & Caravan Alliance’s 2019 ‘Pitching the Value’ report had revealed that visitors to holiday parks and campsites generated £9.3 billion a year and the sector supported 171,448 jobs.
“We were delighted to be able to show Mr George how we play our part in that success story and to demonstrate that tourism makes a significant contribution to the Welsh economy, especially in Powys,” he added.
Celebrating the contribution made by the tourism industry to local and national economies, job creation, the environment and communities, Wales Tourism Week is organised by the Wales Tourism Alliance. The alliance represents around 7,000 businesses in all sectors of tourism industry across Wales.
“Tourism and hospitality is a great sector to work in” – that’s the message from Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, to mark the start of Wales Tourism Week 2022 (15 to 22 May).
The week will help shine a spotlight on careers and job opportunities in the tourism and hospitality sector in Wales.
One of the challenges facing the sector following the Coronavirus pandemic is recruitment, with many businesses seeing a shortage of staff. The Welsh Government has been working with the sector on a recruitment campaign to highlight the potential career paths and a whole of range of personal development opportunities the tourism and hospitality sector has to offer.
The Experience makers campaign is being delivered in partnership with Working Wales: Work in hospitality and tourism.
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
"There is such a variety of interesting and rewarding career options within the tourism sector which offer flexibility as well as career development. It really is a great sector to work in.
"As we build a stronger, fairer, greener Welsh economy, we are committed to investing in our people, through the Young Person’s Guarantee, and a strong employability and skills offer, including apprenticeships.
"Apprenticeships can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce, offering people the chance to gain high-quality vocational skills. They are also crucial to our ambitious post-Covid economic recovery plans. That’s why we have committed to creating a further 125,000 all-age apprenticeship places over the next five years.
"And as the busy summer season gets underway, I’d like to thank everyone working in the sector for their hard work - the staff in this sector play a big part of making important experiences come to life."
Wales Tourism Week is an opportunity for tourism sites across Wales to raise awareness of the sector and showcase the quality of the tourism offer to both UK domestic and international tourists.
This year the theme for the week supports the Tourism and Hospitality skills and recruitment campaign #theexperiencemakers - helping shine a spotlight on careers and job opportunities in the tourism and hospitality sector in Wales.
Launched in 2021 by Visit Wales with the industry-led Wales Tourism and Skills partnership, the campaign supports the sector and raises awareness of the high numbers of vacancies and of the variety of career opportunities available. The message of the campaign is to join the experience makers and is delivered in partnership with Working Wales Work in hospitality and tourism | Working Wales (gov.wales).
Find out more about Wales Tourism Week, learn about the resources available to you to get involved and events taking place on the WTA website.
Be sure to join in on social media: Look out for posts using #theexperienceemakers and #walestourismweek and share them across your platforms.
A blog from the Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales
Wales Tourism Week is here once again, and this year it is focussed on helping to raise the profile of the tourism industry and the exciting opportunities it provides for jobs and careers across the region at a time when there is a large-scale skills shortage in the sector.
Over the last twelve months, the Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales has been working with Welsh tourism businesses to help increase their cyber resilience and with so many operators now furiously recruiting to fill roles, it’s here that one of the many potential weaknesses lies when it comes to a cyber-attack.
Some businesses have even found themselves on the receiving end of social media scams with fake recruitment agencies claiming to help find people job openings, then encouraging them to share identification documents and pay for security checks.
WCRC Director, Detective Superintendent Paul Peters, says: “As we have all seen reported in the news last year, the number of vacancies across the UK tourism sector has significantly increased, with many businesses not able to find the staff – the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reported at the end of last year that in the UK alone, one out of every eight jobs advertised is in the travel and tourism sector.”
Paul continues; “Whilst recruitment remains a top priority, so should cyber security and safeguarding our online systems and private data. We have been speaking to many businesses in this sector and the worrying trend is that most still believe themselves to be too small and too regional to be a target. Yet, we know this not the case, as cyber-criminals will often target the more vulnerable, and size and location really doesn’t matter!
“Ensuring we are protected from such attacks is critical, and that needs to come from not only securing devices in a more effective way, but also looking to those we employ to help protect against threats, serving as a key frontline defence in identifying a cyber-attack and ensuring that your sensitive information is protected,” Paul adds.
And staying cyber resilient is important across every element of a business. Tourism organisations across Wales are constantly taking bookings online, collecting personal data from their customers, which comes with the expectation that this information will be kept safe, yet unless simple steps are taken to do so, such as awareness training on how to spot a fraudulent email, then you are vulnerable to being exploited.
“Recently one of our members was able to recognise that they had been contacted by an imposter pretending to be from a well-known online marketplace for homestays. Thankfully, they had made it their business to raise their awareness on how to recognise phishing attempts which ultimately prevented them falling victim to fraud.”
“Just last year there was a well-reported incident where a company that operated on Instagram found itself locked out of its account and therefore unable to keep running the business. Which is why it is so important to ensure you and your team have strong passwords and consider having two-factor authentication to protect your most important accounts.”
Paul concludes: “We will all have seen the devastation that a fire or flood can do to a small business in Wales, but it is not so visible when it comes to cyber-crime. But these attacks can leave a devastating impact with far-reaching effects. Businesses can suffer from a long list of serious implications, including destruction, alteration, or loss of important files, unauthorised access to sensitive data, loss of billable hours, network access and website access, reputational damage, as well as potential closure, to name a few.”
We know there is so much to consider, but you can make real changes by taking simple steps which aren’t necessarily technical. Let’s start with a few basic points:
Here at the WCRC, we want you to take the small steps to protect your business this summer, and ensure it is both successful and able to provide your customers with a fantastic experience here in Wales.
We offer free membership which includes a meeting with someone from the centre to talk through basic cyber security options, but also some more technical services at a discounted rate that can help you understand where you need to address vulnerabilities.
Tourism and hospitality organisations have offered the Welsh Government their expert insight to protect legitimate self-catering holiday businesses from unintended consequences of proposals to clamp down on second home ownership in Wales.
Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA), UK Hospitality Cymru (UKHC) and Professional Association of Self Caterers UK (PASC UK) are calling on the Welsh Government to heed new evidence collected in a survey of more than 1,500 self-catering businesses, across Wales.
The survey, compiled jointly by the three membership organisations, has been sent to all Members of the Senedd, all Welsh MPs, Visit Wales and key stakeholders. It represents the views of a quarter of Wales’ self-catering operators, who own around 8,000 properties.
The Welsh Government is proposing stricter rules on self-catering accommodation qualifying for business rates rather than council tax.
Currently, self-catering properties in Wales must be available to let for a minimum of 140 days in any 12-month period, and actually let for at least 70 days to qualify for business rates rather than council tax.
Under the new proposals, properties must be available to let for at least 252 days and actually let for at least 182 days to qualify for business rates – an increase of 160%.
From April 2023, a self-catering business not meeting the new threshold would incur council tax for a second home, instead of business rates. Welsh county councils will have the power to increase council tax on all these business by up to 300%.
WTA, UKHC and PASC UK urge the Welsh Government to:
In return, WTA, UKHC and PASC UK are offering to work with Visit Wales to improve the profitability and sustainability of self-catering businesses by driving up quality and nightly yield.
They are also keen to work with Visit Wales, Welsh Government and other partners to drive the green, low-zero carbon agenda in the sector.
The survey reveals that the proposed occupancy threshold will have a “disproportionate and damaging economic impact” on the self-catering sector, individual livelihoods and communities.
The survey findings demonstrate that the proposed changes will not deliver the Welsh Government’s goal of creating more affordable housing in communities where second homes have made property prices too expensive for most local people.
The proposals could not have come at a worse time for the tourism industry in Wales, with rapidly rising energy and fuel prices, a cost-of-living crisis, the opening up of overseas tourism, staff shortages, rising employment and procurement costs, the return to 20% VAT and the Ukraine war.
Many family-run, micro holiday letting businesses surveyed said they will close if the Welsh Government introduces the proposed changes. The properties could subsequently be sold to buyers from outside of Wales or be re-absorbed into owners’ own homes.
A joint statement by the organisations said: “As a tool to bring properties back into a market which is affordable to local people, it will not work. Rather, it will reduce local owners’ ability to earn an income and cause a decline in secondary jobs in hospitality, retail, house maintenance and cleaning.
“It will not safeguard the Welsh language as these businesses will be lost to wealthier outsiders prepared to meet the higher costs of having a second home or self-catering businesses in Wales.”
“Businesses agreed that the 70-day threshold was too low and have consistently recommended an increased to 105 days. Raising the bar to 182 days will have a hugely detrimental impact on the genuine businesses that operate in the sector.
“It is far above average occupancy and will simply drive prices down as owners race to meet the 182 days target.
“A decline in the availability of self-catering businesses will deter tourism, on which many hospitality businesses depend. Local pubs, restaurants and other hospitality and leisure businesses will see a severe drop in footfall at key tourist times.
"The industry supports higher thresholds to help distinguish between professionally run self-catering businesses and second homes. Unfortunately, these proposals don't reflect the outcome of the Welsh Government's own consultation on the issue and we risk losing valuable, locally-owned, small businesses as a consequence.
“We urge the Welsh Government to review their figures and reconsider the damage that these proposals will cause to the economic sustainability of communities they purport to safeguard."
Mid Wales branch of The British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA), which represents 3,000 holiday, residential, tenting, touring and glamping parks across the UK, has a new director.
Dylan Roberts steps up from his previous role as branch secretary to take over from Richard Rhodes, owner of Plas Dolguog Estates Ltd and a director of Garth Holiday Park, Machynlleth, who had been director since 1999.
Mr Roberts, who lives in Bow Street, near Aberystwyth, is a director of Salop Caravan Sites and Bywater Leisure Parks and co-managing director of caravan and motorhome dealership Salop Leisure, which is based in Shrewsbury but has sales centres in Machynlleth and Stourport-on-Severn.
The BH&HPA lobbies and represents members' interests to government and policymakers at all levels. Its strategy is directed by park owners and managers to provide services tailored to the needs of the industry.
Mr Roberts, who has worked for Salop Leisure for 32 years and has been involved in the industry for 39 years, said: “It’s an honour to represent the Mid Wales branch as director and to sit on the board of the BH&HPA.
“I look forward to serving members in Mid Wales to the best of my ability to ensure that their voices are heard on the main board as the industry continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
“It’s important that the association is consulted by governments at all levels when legislation that affects parks is being considered.
“I shall be looking to develop the social side of the branch, providing opportunities for members to meet up, to visit parks and to share ideas and best practice. The BH&HPA seeks to maintain high standards and we are very fortunate here in Mid Wales to have so many top quality parks.”
Praising his predecessor, he said: “Richard has served Mid Wales diligently as director for more than 20 years and has done a sterling job looking after the interests of member parks in the region. I shall endeavour to continue his dedication and hard work to benefit members.”
Mr Roberts is also a director of MWT Cymru and a member of the Caravan and Camping Forum for Wales and the Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum.
A qualified engineer originally from Yorkshire, Mr Rhodes bought Garth Holiday Park after a job he had secured at a technical college in Peru fell through the week before he was due to travel.
He has grown the park from 30 caravans to 149 holiday units which are now run by his youngest son, Edward.
During his time as BH&HPA Mid Wales branch director, Mr Rhodes became closely involved with the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme. With his late wife, Diana, he created Grandma’s Garden at Garth Holiday Park which won a gold award and a special award of distinction from the scheme.
“It has been a privilege to be director since 1999 and I have thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said. “The BH&HPA has expanded and what a good job it has done to bring parks together to network, which is very important.
“I am happy that Dylan will now add to what I have done as director to continue to strengthen the association.”
During the pandemic, Mr Rhodes has written his life story which he hopes to have published later this year.
Richard Rhodes (right) with an inscribed paperweight from the BH&HPA presented to him by Dylan Roberts, his successor Mid Wales branch director.
The Welsh Government has been warned that some businesses across Wales could be forced to close as an unintended consequence of proposed radical new taxation rules which are planned to be introduced next year.
MWT Cymru, which represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia, has surveyed self-catering businesses across Wales to discover how they will be impacted by proposed taxation rules, which are linked to the ownership of second homes.
From April next year, Welsh county councils will be given the power to increase council tax on second homes to 300%. In addition, the Welsh Government is making the rules a lot stricter on self-catering accommodation qualifying for business rates rather than council tax.
Currently, self-catering properties in Wales must be available to let for a minimum of 140 days in any 12-month period, and actually let for at least 70 days to qualify for business rates rather than council tax.
Under the proposed new rules, properties must be available to let for at least 252 days and actually let for at least 182 days to qualify for business rates.
MWT Cymru received 137 responses to its survey, with 66% of businesses saying they would be unable to meet the new rule of letting their properties for 182 days due to the short tourism season in Wales.
Several businesses said they would be forced to consider closing as they could not afford to pay 300% council tax if their local authority decides to impose that rule.
Val Hawkins, MWT Cymru’s chief executive, is calling on the Welsh Government to reconsider the radical taxation rules and she wants holiday let businesses to lobby councillors and Members of the Senedd on the issue.
She believes the new rules on holiday lets will disproportionately impact businesses in rural Wales, particularly farmers who have diversified into tourism. She fears that all rural businesses, such as shops and pubs, will suffer the knock on effect if holiday let businesses close.
She warned that if holiday let properties are sold, they will not necessarily boost the housing stock for local people for a variety of reasons, including being too expensive, having commercial conditions attached or being too large, small or remote.
Mrs Hawkins says the severity of the new taxation rules has caught the tourism industry by complete surprise and self-catering accommodation might be the unintended victim of a clamp down on second home ownership in Wales.
“From the responses to our survey, we know that many businesses would have to consider closing if the new taxation rules are introduced,” she said. “We hope the Welsh Government has already modelled that into their economic impact assessment.
“There is deep concern about the proposed taxation rules from all types of holiday let businesses, from single to multiple let units. We fear that these rules will discourage new entrants from coming into the sector.
“They will be unable to register for business rates until they have made their property available for at least 252 days and actually let it for at least 182 days. Then, there’s a possibility they could end up paying triple council tax at the end of the year if they fail to meet the threshold.
“These new taxation rules will put pressure on the tourism economy at a time when local communities across Wales are struggling to recover from the impact of the pandemic and the increased cost of living crisis. The last thing we need is a reduction in the contribution that tourism businesses make to these communities.
“The holiday let sector is being swept away with the rhetoric of second home ownership without any serious consideration being given to how the new taxation rules are going to impact communities in real terms.
“We are urging the Welsh Government to urgently reconsider the threshold for letting holiday accommodation which is completely out of step with other parts of the UK.
“It will be at the discretion of individual local authorities across Wales whether or not they impose the proposed new taxation rules. Surely, these local authorities don’t want to reduce tourism in their local economy as an unintended consequence of these rules?
“The importance of the tourism sector to the Welsh economy, particularly in rural areas, cannot be overstated in terms of jobs supported and investment.”
MWT Cymru chief executive Val Hawkins.
MWT Cymru is an independent company that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.
Having been involved in the Mid Wales tourism industry for nearly 50 years, Mr Rutherford was a former vice chairman and interim chief executive of MWT Cymru, also known as Mid Wales Tourism, based in Machynlleth.
He arrived in Mid Wales in 1972 to take over as general manager of Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog, having previously worked for a firm of accountants and consultants in London.
In 1993, he bought Corris Craft Centre, which had only six studios and a café at the time. Next, he decided to use his Engineering Degree and interest in King Arthur and ancient mythology to convert the abandoned underground slate mine into King Arthur’s Labyrinth visitor attraction which opened in 1994.
Mr Rutherford later added four additional craft studios, Corris Mine Explorers, Lost Legends of The Stone Circle and the Bwtri Welsh food and drink shop. Wishing to retire, he completed the sale of his business shortly before he died.
Shirley Owen, Corris Craft Centre’s marketing manager, said: “Ian was passionate about the high quality of tourism in Wales. He dedicated his time to the local, regional and national tourism industry where his bright ideas, dedication, drive and wit touched the hearts of so many.
“Ian has left behind the most wonderful legacy which will live on for many more people to enjoy.”
Mr Rutherford was involved with a forerunner to MWT Cymru, the Mid Wales Tourism Council, which became Mid Wales Tourism (MWT) in 1991. He then served as MWT’s chief executive for six months during the reorganisation of the Wales Tourist Board.
He had been involved with MWT since it was established and served as a director for many years before standing down last year.
Responding to the life membership award in December, Mr Rutherford said: “I am really pleased that I have been honoured in such a way by my peers in the tourism industry. I have been involved in the tourism in Mid Wales for nearly 50 years and have been a great supporter of the industry working together.”
Former MWT Cymru chairman, Anne Lloyd Jones, a fellow life member and a personal friend of Mr Rutherford and his family, said: “Ian was such a lovely man, a real gentleman and a tower of strength who always gave sound advice.
“Mid Wales Tourism might not have survived without his leadership as interim chief executive when I was chairman. He will be very sadly missed.”
Current MWT Cymru chairman Rowland Rees-Evans added: “Ian was a giant in the tourism industry. I always appreciated his sense of humour, advice, knowledge and experience within the industry.
“Ian had been to the very top of the industry and had developed a good business. His passing is a big loss to the industry and especially to MWT Cymru.”
Val Hawkins, MWT Cymru’s chief executive, said: “Ian made a massive contribution to MWT Cymru and Mid Wales tourism in general over many years. I shall miss his support and wise words. Our thoughts are with Catrin and family at this very sad time.”
The late Ian Rutherford, a giant of the tourism industry within Wales.
An aerial view of how the new Dyfi View development will look.
Imagine owning a holiday home alongside a popular Mid Wales nature reserve which is home to spectacular ospreys and other rare wildlife.
That’s exactly what’s on offer with an exclusive development of 16 pitches for holiday lodges and static caravans on the five star Morben Isaf Holiday Home and Touring Park, near Machynlleth in the beautiful Dyfi Valley.
The Dyfi View development - https://www.morbenisaf.co.uk/dyfi-view - represents a £750,000 investment by owner Bywater Leisure Parks and increases the number of holiday homes at Morben Isaf to 100.
The new development adjoins the Dyfi Wildlife Centre and Dyfi Osprey Project on Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve and lies within the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere Wales and is only a short drive to the Cambrian Coast beaches.
“Dyfi View has been designed sensitively, with serenity at its heart, to complement the stunning natural environment, with foliage and trees surrounding the development to embrace its tranquil location,” said Ed Glover, Bywater Leisure Parks’ associate director.
“This new development is the epitome of a peaceful, country escape. The cul-de-sac layout ensures there is no through traffic near the lodges and each pitch is positioned to maximise sunlight.”
The Dyfi Osprey Project and Wildlife Centre, part of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, welcome visitors from around the world every year. They visit not only to see ospreys, which are breeding again in the Dyfi Valley after an absence of 400 years, but also the other rare wildlife on the reserve.
The UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere Wales is one of only six UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in the UK. They are recognised sites of excellence which inspire communities to work together to connect people with nature and cultural heritage, while strengthening local economies.
Morben Isaf Holiday Home and Touring Park is situated at Derwenlas, between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth, on the A487.
For more information about Dyfi View and the park, contact the park on Tel: 01654 781473 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Apprenticeship Week is an annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships, and the value they bring to employers and learners across Wales.
This is an opportunity for Tourism, Hospitality and Events businesses across Wales to get involved and celebrate apprentices working in the industry.
A toolkit is available with information about apprenticeships for employers and individuals, along with ideas and resources for you to use and share in support of Apprenticeship Week.
However you participate, please share your activity during Apprenticeship Week via your own communication channels, including newsletters, stakeholder communications and social media - using #AWWales and #theexperiencemakers and be sure to tag us on @VisitWalesBiz / @CroesoCymruBus.
For MWT members: Cambrian Training Company will be joining our members' meeting on 8 February - a great opportunity to discuss skills and training and find out more about apprenticeships.
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