Wales considering adding tourist tax as critics warn it could hurt local tourism

Jun 16, 2021

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A so-called tourist tax is under discussion in Wales as government officials say it would ultimately benefit the industry. The levy was included in proposals of the Welsh five-year Programme for Government.

To this point, there have been no specifics as to how much the tax would be, but it would be levied on visitors to Wales. The idea behind the proposed tax is to have tourists help underwrite local attractions like museums, festivals and landmark sites that lure them to the area.

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“It is about giving the power and the authority to local authorities in Wales to make a decision for themselves as to whether or not a tourism levy would allow them better to go on investing in the circumstances that make those areas attractive to tourism,” First Minister Mark Drakeford said.

Drakeford noted that at the moment, the cost of paying for the maintenance and upkeep of these attractions falls on local residents.

“A tourism levy, charged on people who choose to go to those areas, in a very modest way, when you add it all up, could be a significant opportunity for local authorities to invest in the conditions that make tourism a success,” he said.

Tourism taxes are common in major European cities like Rome and Paris. Visitors in those municipalities pay small fees per hotel tax, with the income raised used to pay for maintaining the area and its tourist attractions.

But critics say taxing holidaymakers would only harm the locals, threaten jobs and inhibit Wales’ tourism industry from recovering from the debilitating impact of the 15-month long pandemic.

The industry group Wales Tourism Alliance issued a report in 2018 that said a tourist tax in the country would “inhibit growth, employment, revenue and holiday-taking” and have a negative impact on families who already have trouble affording leisure travel.

Featured photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

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