Welsh government pushes back on claim that tourist tax could deter visitors


The Welsh government has pushed back on claims by a former VisitBritain official that introducing a tourism tax could risk turning off visitors.

At this week’s Welsh Affairs Committee, which focused on boosting international tourism in Wales, former VisitBritain tourism chief Anthony Pickles claimed the tourist levy would increase the ‘prohibitive’ costs of visiting from the United Kingdom.

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

“If you continue to double the additional costs, whether it’s VAT or a tourist tax, you are going to make yourself uncompetitive in the market.”

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

This, he said, “does not correspond to what tourism is”.

The Welsh government has said it is working with industry and has championed the principle of a visitor’s tax.

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

“Visitor taxes are commonplace around the world, with revenues used to benefit local communities, tourists and businesses.

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“We are consulting to give local authorities the power to introduce a tourist tax.

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

“Each local authority in Wales will have the power to decide whether they want to introduce a visitor’s tax.

“We will consider all views as part of the consultation process this fall.”

Tourist taxes are currently levied in several countries around 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 tourist tax for all non-EU visitors by the end of the year, and Thailand introduced its own similar tax in April.

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