Fresh concerns over Labour’s economically-illiterate tourism tax plans have been raised by the Welsh Conservatives.
The party strongly opposes the mooted tax amid fears it will punish hardworking rural communities and be disastrous for the country’s tourism industry.
And now concerns have been raised that any money received through the tax that was ringfenced for tourism spend would lead to councils cutting their existing tourism budgets.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Tom Giffard MS, challenged First Minister Mark Drakeford on the matter in the Senedd this week.
He said: “I have seen claims from Welsh Government ministers that seem to suggest any proceeds from a tourism tax would be ringfenced in some way so that councils can increase tourism spending.
“I am not really sure how ministers can make that claim because the obvious current flaw is that whilst the Welsh Government could ensure that any moneys raised could be ringfenced, it doesn't appear that the Welsh Government can do anything to protect councils' existing tourism budgets.
“Unless there is that safeguard, we could see an introduction of a series of additional taxes across the country that leave no discernible mark on the amount of money being spent on tourism.”
Drakeford brushed off Giffard’s concerns and simply told him to take part in the consultation.
Commenting outside the chamber, Tom Giffard – who is also the MS for South Wales West – said:
“Let me be abundantly clear, a tourism tax should not be introduced in Wales because it is economically-illiterate and would punish hardworking rural communities across the country.
“But if Labour ministers push ahead with their hare-brained idea, I am concerned councils will simply slash their tourism budget and not use the extra cash to improve tourism offerings in the area.
“It would be a double whammy for our tourism hotspots. We will get all the negatives of a tax, and not get the benefits of bumper budgets as a result.
“I was beyond disappointed with the First Minister’s answer, and the Welsh Conservatives will carry on lobbying for tourism tax plans to be scrapped for good.”