Why we are launching a consultation on a visitor’s tax for Wales

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Cefin Campbell and Rebecca Evans. Pictures of Senedd Cymru

Rebecca Evans, Welsh Government Minister for Finance and Local Government

Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru Designated Member

A warm Welsh welcome.

This is what people from Wales, England and beyond can expect to receive when they visit the spectacular tourist destinations we have to offer.

With our thriving cities, epic landscapes and coastal towns and villages, there’s something for everyone in Wales – and we want to show it.

And to be able to continue to do so, we need to ensure that communities are supported.

Next Tuesday (the 13th), we will launch a consultation on our tourist tax proposal. This is one of the ways we seek to support tourism, for the benefit of businesses, communities and visitors.

Sustainability and equity

A royalty is a matter of sustainability and fairness.

Sustainability, because keeping our coastlines clean, our parks pristine, and our cities vibrant takes work — and a tax will help communities sustain our beautiful destinations for generations to come.

And equity, because the infrastructure that supports tourism must be funded by everyone who depends on it, not just local residents.

Our vision is to develop tourism for the good of Wales. A visitor tax will contribute to sustainable and equitable tourism – economic growth coexisting with environmental sustainability.

Why not Wales?

Nothing happens overnight; the process of creating legislation and implementing a levy would take many years.

While the specific details of the proposal are still being worked out – which the consultation will help us do – we envision that a levy would apply to overnight visits. This is generally the case in other countries where tourist taxes are applied. We see it as a small charge that contributes to sustainable tourism.

We want visitors to know that their contribution could make a big difference in supporting the destinations they love and enjoy. A small charge would not be unique to Wales. If someone has been on holiday in Greece or France, the Netherlands or New Zealand – or any of the more than 40 countries around the world that have tourist taxes – they will have paid a small charge to help keep these places attractive to visit. They may not even have noticed they were paying him.

And although Wales is the first place in the UK to introduce such a levy, we don’t think it will be the last. Increasingly, UK nations seem to be outliers in not asking tourists to pay a small charge to support the areas they visit. A levy will put Wales on the same footing as other world-class tourist destinations. So why not Wales?

It is also important to remember that we are proposing to give municipalities the possibility of introducing a fee. The scale and economic impact of tourism varies greatly across Wales. Our plans would give local regions the power to decide whether a tax would be right for them.

New wharf in Ceredigion. Photo by Bruce Sinclair

Public debate

The idea for the tax grew out of public debate and a call for ideas on new taxes in Wales. As we move forward in this process, we will continue to be open and transparent, listening to anyone who wants to have their say. We have already spoken to companies, third sector representatives, councils, industry bodies and foreign government counterparts who have introduced visitor taxes.

We want to make sure people have the opportunity to join these voices in shaping our approach, and the consultation we’re launching next week will be the latest way to do that. Details will be available on the Welsh Government website and we look forward to hearing what people have to say.

We know how important tourism is to many parts of Wales, and it’s essential that we have sustainable and responsible tourism that works for both visitors and the communities they visit.

So please get involved, have your say and help us extend our warm Welsh welcome to generations to come.

The tourist tax is set up as part of the cooperation agreement signed between the Welsh government and Plaid Cymru.

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