Tourism within Wales is a lucrative sector for the Welsh economy as 8% of the Welsh workforce is occupied through Tourism, and with over 8 million annual visitors the industry has been estimated to generate over £5.1 billion a year. Wales has been setting its sites on more devolved powers, which in 2018 Welsh ministers will decide whether to ask UK ministers if they can introduce a ‘ Welsh Tourism Tax’, which will entail a small charge to those staying in accommodation in Wales. However businesses and industry bodies have warned the tax would undermine work, encouraging people to visit Wales, which could damage the tourism sector for Wales.
Thomas Scarrott who is the owner the Welsh family run business ‘ Vale Holiday Parks’ outlined on BBC’s Sunday Politics Wales programme that a tourism tax would raise the cost of holidays. “They would definitely pay more money – if it [tourism tax] comes to Wales then it would have devastating effects, not just on the tourism industry, but on other businesses that rely on the tourism industry, pubs, shops, cafes, visitor attractions’. According to Pembrokeshire Tourism, which promotes the industry locally, tourists bring almost £600m a year to the county – but there are concerns a tourism tax could cut that income. Dennis O’Connor from Pembrokeshire Tourism stated that “I think undoubtedly it [ tourism tax] will stop some people coming to Pembrokeshire on holiday if a tax is introduce.”
The DNA of the tourism tax is still being formulated therefore the allegations that the tourism tax would have devastating effects on Welsh businesses, is fairly far fetched. Whilst inevitably a tax would raise the cost of tourism within Wales, it is unclear how much the tourism tax in Wales would cost and subsequently how much it would damage Welsh businesses, or even if it would damage Welsh businesses. The only indication of the makeup of the tax has been that it would be a small accommodation tax – which to most seems pretty small. The attractions of Wales before or after the Tourism tax will always remain attractions; visitors will not stop touring Wales due to a small accommodation cost.
The Island off the Adriatic coast, Croatia is a prime example of how Tourism Tax will not perish the tourism sector. Croatia implements a tourism tax known as ‘ Sojorun Tax’ which visitors aged 18 of over face a tax of between 2kb (€0.25) to 7kn (€1) per day depending on the category and season, which is paid upon checkout of the accommodation. Yet Tourism within Croatia, has been growing by the millions and despite the final figures not being released until March 2018, Croatia has already increased its tourist numbers by 1.5m compared to last year.
Wales should look to Croatia on how to implement the tourism tax as evidently Wales and Croatia both share a similarity in that tourism is paramount to each economy, and Croatia has not faced repercussions for creating it whilst improving their economy even more. With Brexit looming and the peril of EU funding impending, Wales needs to start raising their own funds to support the people of Wales, and if the tourism tax would be a small accommodation tax this would not only help support the Welsh economy, but pave the way for greater devolved powers.