Wales is going to start charging tourists just to visit on holiday
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Officials in Wales are planning to start charging tourists visiting the country, with the government moving forward with legislation that would allow local authorities to introduce a levy for visitors.
The tourist tax is being proposed by the Welsh government in an attempt to charge people so that they can contribute to the maintenance of the destinations they visit.
The levy would be a small charge paid by those staying in commercially-let visitor accommodations like Airbnbs or hotels, inspired by similar schemes in other tourist destinations such as Greece, France, Amsterdam and California.
It follows a public consultation on the proposed move, which was met with a mixed response.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, accepted that people had some reservations about the idea, but believes the levy could help put the power into local communities.
She said: "It’s more important than ever that we look to create a sustainable tourism sector that also supports local communities.
"Many destinations around the world use visitor levies to empower and enhance their local areas for the benefit of visitors and locals alike – I am confident this will be the case here in Wales.”
Last week, Manchester became the first UK city to bring in a tourist tax, with hopes that its 'city visitor charge' would raise millions of pounds, which could then be spent on 'improving the visitor experience'.
The Welsh government said the legislation that would allow local authorities to bring in the levy would be put to the Senedd within the next two years.
Nia Jones, joint chairwoman of the Anglesey Tourism Association, told the BBC: "Some local authorities are for it - I don't think we're talking a huge amount of money, it'll be a couple of pounds extra for the accommodation sector.
"The important part is that is spent on the tourism infrastructure and if that happens and people can see the visible and tangible benefits of the tax then we wait to see how it works."
But Jones accepted there are many opponents to the idea, describing it as a ‘hot potato’ in tourism.
"The accommodation sector is still struggling after Covid, I'm hearing that many places are not full for Easter," she added.
"It's particularly quiet, there's still a degree of nervousness in businesses operating at the moment so there will be a split in how the trade will view a tourism tax in Wales.
"We're nervous [about the tax] because it's new, because the industry is still quite volatile after Covid."