Tourism Tax on Wales: A Colossal Mistake?

Peter Fox and Tom Giffard warn against the potential impact of a Welsh tourism tax on the sector.

From the rolling hills of Monmouthshire to the white sands of Gower’s famous beaches, or even the rich Welsh landscape, Wales is the capital of global tourism and rightly boasts of having something iconic for everyone to enjoy.

Such is the popularity of Welsh tourism that the vital sector now accounts for an eye-watering 9.5 per cent of total employment across our country.

Simply, this means hundreds of thousands of jobs across the length and breadth of Wales are entirely dependent upon this key pillar of the Welsh economy.

However, the tourism sector hasn’t always had it easy in recent years, with COVID-19 in particular pushing it onto a cliff edge; fortunately, its resilience, in addition to the furlough lifeline thrown by the UK Government, saved countless jobs and livelihoods.

But there is a new horror now lurking on the horizon, and one that could potentially wreak financial havoc on our country.

That threat is the tourism tax which would impose a levy on visitors coming to Wales, making the tourism sector less competitive and portraying Wales as more expensive to visit.

The tax will do nothing to create more jobs, businesses or opportunities

The Welsh Conservatives have led the way in voicing our opposition to the planned tax.

Any decision to impose the tax on hard-working businesses would be a colossal mistake because it would undoubtedly hammer aspiration and opportunities into the ground.

And with almost 10 per cent of the Welsh work force employed in the tourism sector – why would anyone wish to put that at risk?

It would seem that the pioneer of the tax, the Welsh Government, is intent (for some reason we cannot fathom) on using the tax to keep the Welsh economy stuck in first gear.

Allow us to be clear: the tax will do nothing to create more jobs, businesses or opportunities.

Instead, the Welsh Government should be using a laser-like focus on attracting more international visitors to Wales. 

Moreover, it is a fact that pre-pandemic Wales received an estimated one million out of the 40 million visitors who holidayed in the UK. 

That statistic shines a spotlight on the need to tear down existing barriers hindering potential visitors – and that is an area where the Welsh Government really needs to grapple quickly.

Surely, Welsh Government Ministers can grasp the simple fact that the proposed tax, which would put visitors out of pocket, will not be an incentive, but a deterrent to visiting our glorious country?

The evidence and calls against a tourism tax are mounting by the hour, with the influential Wales Tourism Alliance being the latest to hit out. 

Therefore, we urge Welsh Government Ministers to see the writing on the wall and not pursue this cause.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on it.

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Peter Fox is the Member of the Senedd for Monmouth and the Welsh Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Finance. His 13-year term as Leader of Monmouthshire County Council also saw him play an instrumental role in negotiating and securing the UK’s biggest city deal - worth £1.3 billion - for the Cardiff Capital Region, for which he was subsequently awarded an OBE. Mr Fox is also a livestock farmer in Monmouthshire.
Tom Giffard is the Member of the Senedd for South Wales West and the Welsh Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport; he has a keen interest and background in education, having chaired the Bridgend County Borough Council Education Scrutiny Committee, overseeing and scrutinising the council's multi-million-pound education budget. Tom also has a keen interest in the structures and development of local government as he had been a Council Group Leader in Bridgend for 4 years.

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