Richard Youle, local democracy journalist
Swansea Council is not planning to introduce a controversial tourist levy, its leader has signaled.
Cllr Rob Stewart said a levy would only be considered if there was strong local support.
The Welsh Government in consultation over a scheme that would give councils the power to introduce what it calls a ‘visitor levy’, which it says would help fund visitor facilities and tourism improvements.
Many tourism groups oppose the levy, which ministers see as a small additional charge applying to stays in commercially rented tourist accommodation. These levies are in effect in a number of cities and countries around the world.
Tom Beynon, the owner of Three Cliffs Holiday Park, Gower, said the cost of living crisis is leading to lower spending on holidays and a levy could mean the difference between a family choosing Wales over opposition to a place like Devon. .
“It just seems crazy to me,” he said. “If it was a UK-wide policy it would be different.”
Mr Beynon said the tourism sector in Wales had made positive progress in recent years and efforts should be made to continue this.
“I think Wales are definitely going in the right direction,” he said. “More and more people come here every year, which translates into additional revenue in the regions, and tourism businesses reinvest it.”
Mr Beynon said he had spent money on heated toilet blocks and glamping pods, and the campsite and caravan park employed 15 full-time people at peak times.
“The last five years in particular have been very, very busy,” he said. “We are positive for the future.”
Any levy, he said, would be “concerning”. He added: “My view is shared by the majority in Gower.”
Mr Beynon also questioned whether the money from such a scheme would be earmarked for visitor enhancement, given the severe financial pressures facing the councils.
A new visitor tax, if approved in the future by the Senedd, would require new legislation. The consultation ends on December 13 and takes place under the cooperation agreement between Welsh Labor and Plaid Cymru.
Gower MS Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said at the launch of the consultation last month: “Our intention with the tax is to create a sense of shared responsibility between residents and visitors, to protect and d invest in, our territories.
“By asking visitors – whether they have traveled from Wales or further afield – to make a small contribution to maintaining and improving the place they are visiting, we will encourage a more sustainable approach to tourism. .”
Cllr Stewart told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that Swansea Council’s position was that it had no intention of introducing a levy.
And in response to Mr Beynon’s concerns, he said: “We would only consider introducing it if there was significant local support. And all funds raised would absolutely be earmarked and deployed on local tourism priorities.
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