The shadow minister for culture, tourism and sport has described the Welsh Government’s new licensing scheme for holiday lets as a “precursor to a Tourism Tax”.
Tory MS Tom Giffard has criticised the move which would form part of a “package of measures” to tackle the high numbers of second homes in Wales.
The Welsh Conservatives, which described the licensing scheme as “bureaucratic and expensive”, said that “many in the tourism sector also believe that it will be a forerunner to a Tourism Tax”.
MS Tom Giffard said: “To me, this looks like the precursor to a Tourism Tax which will destroy the tourism sector in Wales and cost a huge number of jobs.
“Ministers must make sure that this scheme does not punish people who work hard to make our tourism businesses thrive, especially after the damage of pandemic restrictions.
“Labour and Plaid Cymru should announce this in the Welsh Parliament and show some respect for the Welsh people, instead of running straight to the press. It’s beyond belief that they want more politicians in the Senedd but can’t actually be bothered to speak there.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford and Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price announced the new package of measures - which also includes new planning laws and proposals to change land transaction tax - this morning (Monday, July 4) at a joint press conference.
The Co-Operation Agreement between the Labour-run Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru includes a commitment to tackle the issue of second homes.
Brecon and Radnorshire’s MS James Evans has also criticised the plans which he described as an “assault on the Welsh tourism indutry”.
He said: “I’m not surprised that Labour and their nationalist friends in Plaid are continuing their assault on the Welsh tourism industry.
“The announcement today is just laying the groundwork for a Tourism Tax, with the purpose of driving visitors away from beautiful Brecon and Radnorshire and costing us much-needed jobs.
“Just looking at their new licensing scheme, it has all the hallmarks of being a bureaucratic mess – the last thing that tourism businesses need.
“Let’s be real – if Labour and Plaid want to fix the housing crisis then they can build more homes - remember, it’s the Labour Government that have consistently failed to meet their own national housebuilding targets.”
The package of measures announced this morning includes:
- Changes to planning regulations by the end of the summer. These will introduce three new planning use classes – a primary home, a second home and short-term holiday accommodation. Local planning authorities, where they have evidence, will be able to make amendments to the planning system to require planning permission for change of use from one class to another. The Welsh Government will also introduce changes to national planning policy to give local authorities the ability to control the number of second homes and holiday lets in any community.
- Plans to introduce a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation, including short-term holiday lets, making it a requirement to obtain a license. This will help raise standards across the tourism industry, the Co-operation agreement says.
- Following a consultation about varying land transaction tax locally in areas with large numbers of second homes, work will start today (Monday, July 4) with local authorities to develop a national framework so they can request increased land transaction tax rates for second homes and holiday lets to be applied in their local area.
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