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No to ‘tourism tax’

Created on 17/07/2017 @ 05:46
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Suggestions of a new Welsh Government tourism levy have been met with instant opposition from the industry in Mid Wales.

The Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has appealed for people and organisations to come forward with ideas which could be developed into new Welsh taxes.

A possible tourism levy is one of the ideas put forward by the Bevan Foundation, a Valleys think tank, but no further details have emerged about whether it will be paid by businesses or visitors.

However, the idea attracted a blunt response from the tourism industry. Val Hawkins, chief executive of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents 600 tourism and hospitality businesses in Mid Wales, said: “The last thing we need at the moment is a tourism tax.”

That view is shared by Tony Bywater, chairman of caravan and motorhome dealership Salop Leisure, which has sales centres in Shrewsbury, Machynlleth and Stourport-on- Severn, who said: “Tourism businesses are already taxed heavily and a new tax would make Wales more expensive to visitors.”

Mrs Hawkins said tourism businesses had enough to contend with following the Brexit vote, minimum wage, zero hours contracts and higher business rates.

“If inflation starts to rise, people are going to have less money to spend on short breaks in our region,” she warned. “The tourism sector needs more income to help regions like Mid Wales and I don’t think any new tax should be coming out of the businesses.”

Mr Bywater said caravan park owners in Mid Wales already paid VAT on rates and pitch rental and an additional tax would be too much. 

“The industry is taxed heavily already and we are not competitive with the rest of the world,” he added. “A new tax would make Wales more expensive to visitors and we, as a company, are trying to keep our costs sensible and competitive.”

PICTURE: Powis Castle, one of the many attractions that welcome thousands of visitors every year.

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