WE’RE fortunate in Monmouthshire to have a thriving tourism industry, although it was hit hard by the pandemic and the restrictions governments introduced.

Even now, several years on, this industry is still recovering from the devastating impact the pandemic had on people’s livelihoods. Tourism contributes nearly £200million to Monmouthshire’s economy and it sustains over 3,000 jobs in the local tourism industry.

But instead of supporting this sector of the economy to expand, welcome more visitors and create new jobs, some politicians seem determined to make the economic climate even more difficult for tourism.

The Welsh Government recently passed legislation increasing the number of nights that a holiday let must be let for in order to qualify for business rates instead of council tax.

The new threshold of 182 nights will be very difficult for some holiday lets to reach, particularly those that have a gap between bookings for cleaning or larger bespoke accommodation.

If a property fails to achieve this new threshold, they get moved on to council tax and become liable for a council tax surcharges of up to 300%, as recently voted through by Labour councillors in Monmouthshire.

The latest policy to threaten our tourism industry in Monmouthshire comes in the form of Welsh Government plans for a tourism tax. Mark Drakeford’s government has committed to give local authorities the powers to impose a tourism tax by 2026. This means it would be up to each individual local authority to decide whether to impose the tax in their area.

In this week’s full council, the Conservative Group will be asking councillors to rule out the introduction of a tourism tax here in Monmouthshire.

We feel it will add costs to businesses and deter investment. We have a long porous border with England and tourists have a choice. In the Wye Valley for instance, tourists can decide which side of the Wye to stay on and a tourism tax in Wales, but not in England could be a deciding factor.

Based on average costs of a tourism tax in other European countries, the policy could add £75 to a week away for an average family in Wales. Even in the Welsh Government’s own consultation, 78% per cent of respondents came out against a local visitor levy, yet Welsh Government are still proceeding with it.

Right now, we should be supporting our tourism businesses so we will be urging all councils to back our motion to prevent a tourism tax being introduced here in Monmouthshire.