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Newport Conservatives Blog

Opposing Labour's proposed Welsh Tourism Tax

Newport Conservatives - Monday, November 27, 2017
Opposing Labour's proposed Welsh Tourism Tax

Newport Conservative's say "NO"!

According to the Welsh Government, the Tourism industry contributes £8.7bn to the Welsh economy and supports around 242,000 jobs either directly or indirectly.

On it's website, the Bevan Foundation makes the argument 'for' a Tourism Tax. They claim:

"We hear rather less about the economic costs of tourism. Traffic congestion, carbon emissions, waste generated by hotels and restaurants, littering of streets and beaches, policing, maintenance of mountain footpaths, etc. "

The Bevan Foundation go on to say "We think it's fair and reasonable that those who put an additional burden on the public purse should give a little bit extra to help to meet the costs".

So I've been fair in this blog by giving the argument for having a tourism tax, but let me now be clear that I strongly oppose any such tax. The Newport Conservative Group also oppose it, as do the Welsh Conservatives.

I now make the case 'against' having the tax by focusing on one industry sector:- Camping & Caravanning. I'm going to drill down into the numbers, which is something the Bevan Foundation have been very vague on.

We don't know how the tax would work exactly as this hasn't been fully disclosed, however its been suggested it be a minimal charge of £1 per night (or could be a 5% rate)? It doesn't sound much does it? Well, how would that affect Camping & Caravanning?

Let's start off with static caravan parks. Trecco Bay in Porthcawl is Wales biggest Holiday Park - make no mistake, this park is the size of a small town with 10,000 people visiting the site over the course of one week in peak season. It is a major contributor to income and jobs for all of Porthcawl, as a lot of holidaymakers will visit the town centre shops, restaurants and bars. A seasonal pitch fee at Trecco Bay is around £5000 per annum for a static caravan. Add a 5% tax surcharge on this and you're looking at an extra £250. If it were a £1 per night surcharge, you'd be looking at roughly the same, because the season runs from March to November at Trecco Bay.

Then there are touring campsites. There are hundreds' across Wales - think of the Gower, Tenby, Saundersfoot, New Quay, North Wales, etc. The average cost of a seasonal pitch at a touring campsite is around £1800 per annum. Add a 5% tax surcharge on this and you'd be looking at an extra £90 fee. If it were a £1 per night surcharge, the cost would be around £250. Either way, it'll be expensive.

The Bevan Foundation claim "a cap" could be installed to counter the above - but what would this cap be?

Now as a tourer myself I'll often go away on a 3 or 4 night break over a weekend. I'll probably go away 10 times a year - yes, I love caravanning. The extra cost to me could be as much as £30 to £40 a year in tax. There are many like me who engage in light touring. How many people in Newport own a caravan or tent? Maybe a few thousand?

One thing the Bevan Foundation hasn't talked about is 'competition', and this is the biggest single factor that affects the Tourism Tax. Living in Newport, it takes 45 minutes to travel to Porthcawl, Rhoose or Barry. But it only takes 45 minutes to travel to the Somerset towns of Weston-Super-Mare, Brean or Burnham-on-Sea. How many people in South-East Wales will simply transfer their camping holidays to Somerset because of the tourism tax? Brean in particular is a major concern, because there are some ridiculously large campsites there.

This blog isn't scaremongering. I've tried to drill down into the financial numbers - which no one else has done. Fundamentally, if you own a seasonal pitch in Wales, it'll be human nature to think - do I switch to Somerset, Devon or Cornwall? It's not just the pitch fees that will be transferred to England, but all the money the tourist will spend in the shops, pubs, bars and restaurants.... all of which help our small businesses survive whilst also contributing to business rates.

My blog ends - and I didn't even mention hotels, B&B's and guest houses. They'll be hit by this tax also!

Michael Enea
St.Julians & Beechwood
Newport Conservatives


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