Welsh Government pushes back on tourism tax concerns

THE Welsh Government has pushed back on claims by a former VisitBritain official that introducing a tourism tax could risk discouraging visitors.

At last week’s Welsh Affairs Committee, centred on boosting international tourism to Wales, former VisitBritain tourism chief Anthony Pickles claimed that the tourist levy would add to “prohibitive” costs involved in visiting the UK.

“If you look overall at where Britain sits in terms of competitiveness, we are amongst the most expensive destinations in the world,” Pickles, a former chief of staff for the Conservative Party in Wales, told the committee.

“If you continue to double down on add-in costs, whether it be VAT or a tourism tax, you’re going to make yourself uncompetitive in the marketplace.”

He also argued that private companies in the tourism industry find it “much harder to drive policy change” in Wales, because “policy levers sit very firmly with Welsh Government ministers.”

This, he said, “doesn’t fit right with what tourism is about”.

The Welsh Government has said it works with the industry and defended the principle of a tourism tax.

A spokesperson said: “The Welsh Government works closely with the tourism sector to ensure it has a thriving and sustainable future here in Wales.

“Visitor levies are commonplace across the world, with revenues used to the benefit of local communities, tourists and businesses.

“We are consulting on giving local authorities the power to introduce a visitor levy.

“This would be a small charge paid by people staying overnight in Wales and enjoying everything our beautiful country has to offer.

“Each local authority in Wales will have the power to decide if they want to introduce a visitor levy.

“We will take all views on board as part of the consultation process this Autumn.”

Tourism taxes are currently levied in multiple countries across the world – including the United States, Germany, France and Greece, as well as most Caribbean islands.

The European Union is set to introduce a general tourism levy for all non-EU visitors by the end of the year, and Thailand implemented its own similar tax back in April.

  • This article originally appeared on our sister site The National.

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