Welsh ministers banned from tourist attraction due to ‘anti-tourism’ policies

Wednesday 10th August 2022 4:00 pm
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Dan Yr Ogof caves
Welsh Government ministers won’t be able to visit Dan Yr Ogof caves following the decision (Pic from Dan Yr Ogof Caves/Facebook )

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Welsh Government ministers have been banned from visiting one of Wales’ best-known attractions after it’s chairman claimed new “anti-tourism” policies could lead to Welsh tourism businesses going under.

Asford Price, Chairman of the National Showcaves Centre for Wales at Dan Yr Ogof, confirmed that they had made this decision to make a stand against the Welsh Government and their tourism policies and make a stance of solidarity with other businesses in the tourism industry that may be affected.

A sign now being displayed in the Dan Yr Ogof ticket office reads: “Owing to the Welsh Government’s anti-tourism, and anti-English policies being imposed on the Welsh tourism industry, members of the Welsh Government are no longer welcome at this attraction. Their policies will lead to tourism businesses being forced to close and thousands of tourism jobs lost.”

The decision has been made after it was announced that the Welsh Government is to launch a public consultation this autumn regarding the implementation of a new tourism tax, that will see visitors to Wales pay a levy charge.

If green-lighted, the levy will be added to the bill for overnight stays at popular holiday destinations in Wales.

Speaking back in February when the plans were announced, Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said: “Visitor levies are a common feature in tourist destinations internationally. They are an opportunity for visitors to make an investment in local infrastructure and services, which in turn make tourism a success.

“The introduction and subsequent use of such a levy would enable destinations in Wales to be enjoyed for generations to come and encourage a more sustainable approach to tourism.”

Further Welsh Government proposals recently announced include plans to introduce a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation, including short-term holiday lets, making it a requirement to obtain a license.

The proposal means that holiday homes will have to be let out for more than 182 days a year to qualify for a council tax exemption and be liable to pay business rates instead.

When the change to the number of days holiday homes would have to be let out for to qualify for a council tax exemption was announced by the Welsh Government in May, finance minister Rebecca Evans said: “Following our consultation the Welsh Government is of the view that properties let out as self-catering accommodation on an infrequent basis should be liable for council tax. Increased letting criteria will ensure that self-catering properties are classed as non-domestic only if they are being used for business purposes for the majority of the year.”

The new proposals have angered Chairman of Dan Yr Ogof, Asford Price, who has described it as a ‘Soviet type purge’ being imposed by the Welsh Government.

He said: “I have had the pleasure of meeting two First Ministers for Wales at the Caves. The late Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones on more than one occasion and they were always genuinely interested in tourism.

“However, the present Welsh Government with their anti-tourism policies namely the 182-day rule, the proposed tourism tax, and planned alterations to the main summer holidays clearly show that they do not understand or care that their actions will decimate seasonal tourism businesses in Wales.

“Thirty per cent of self-catering businesses are forecast to close, with a resulting loss of 1400 Welsh jobs. Is it any wonder that some operators in Welsh tourism are now holding back on any future investment in Wales?”

“80% of all visitors to Wales are English and many of these new policies will be seen as anti-English by the English media. Wales will pay a heavy price if our main tourism market refuses to pay the proposed tourism tax, and vote with their feet and go elsewhere. In a recession people will be looking for ‘bargain holidays’ not holiday regions where you pay a tax for visiting them.”

He also accused the Welsh Government of ignoring tourism experts advising against the new proposals and using ‘bully boy’ tactics to ‘bulldoze’ through the new laws.

Ashford Price added: “Surely with power comes responsibilities and a willingness to listen to experts as none of the Ministers involved have ever run a tourism related business.

“My parents always told me as a youngster that you must always stand up to ‘bullies’ hence this is my personal stand to ban Welsh Ministers from the showcaves and show our support for the beleaguered self-catering operators in Wales.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson, said: “The Welsh Government is fully supportive of tourism in Wales and is working very closely with our hospitality and tourism sectors to ensure they have a successful summer season and a thriving and sustainable future.”

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