As the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show returns to Llanelwedd in Powys, tourist industry representatives have united with the Welsh Conservatives to draw focus to the Labour Government’s tourism policies which will have a huge impact on people in rural and farming areas.
The measures include a proposed Tourism Tax and new 182-day holiday let threshold which will decimate the tourism industry, particularly hitting those who own small holiday properties such as a cottage or annexe.
Information collated by the Wales Tourism Alliance, UK Hospitality Cymru and PASC UK has found many case studies of people in rural Wales who face their livelihoods being ruined because of Labour’s decisions, supported by Plaid Cymru.
The three organisations conclude that the businesses punished “are small micro-businesses, no burden on the state, working hard to earn a legitimate living from hospitality. Many have no option but to do short-term letting as they are limited by planning consents.”
They continue “If this measure is carried through as proposed, any property, outside a hotspot, limited to only operate as a holiday let will become a blighted property. How will that help rural communities in particular?”
The Welsh Conservatives have already tried to annul the 182-day threshold. Tom Giffard MS moved the motion to annul, which was voted down by Labour, Plaid Cymru and the sole Liberal Democrat (Jane Dodds who represents Mid & West Wales) in opposition to requests from tourism industry representatives.
Commenting, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Tourism, Tom Giffard MS, said:
“Our rural communities benefit hugely from incoming tourism, and Labour plans to do everything they can do wreck the 1-in-7 Welsh jobs that rely on the tourism industry – this is an assault on rural Wales.
“The proposed Tourism Tax and new, sky-high holiday let requirements are fiercely opposed by those who are the backbone of our tourism sector, from the person in Builth who lets out their converted barn to the couple with a small holiday cottage in Narbeth.
“We’re supporting rural Wales with a Mid Wales Plan, an Alternative Agriculture Plan, and being the only party to oppose the tourism tax and the 182-day threshold.
“These are the rural communities who make our tourism industry thrive, bringing much-needed money and jobs. They are being disgracefully targeted by Labour and their faithful allies in Plaid Cymru – it’s only Welsh Conservatives that stand up for rural Wales.”
Commenting, the Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA) and Professional Association of Self-Caterers UK (PASC) said:
"The Welsh Government say how important tourism is to Welsh communities and the economy.
“Yet local, professional accommodation, hospitality, retail and attractions already feel they are the collateral damage of policies aimed at solving problems for which they are not to blame, such as affordable housing.
"An anti-competitive tourism tax on top of that, when the industry is recovering from covid restrictions and the cost-of-living crisis is affecting holiday makers as well businesses themselves, is madness - and heartless. I cannot remember a time when so many sectors of the industry felt this angry and despondent.
"At a time when we are urging businesses to use all opportunities to engage with Welsh Government to help craft a sustainable and balanced industry across Wales, they have lost confidence that anyone is interested in what they have to say.
"Of course, it's rural communities, where other options are limited and which rely most heavily on tourism, that are best placed to develop a well-balanced industry.”
In addition, a UKHospitality Cymru spokesman said:
“The current cost climate means hospitality businesses are struggling to survive after the terrible years of Covid and these proposals, which will clearly impact hard on those based in rural Wales where bed nights are likely to be less than in tourism hotspots, are universally opposed by the industry.”