As I write this column, I am today holding the Welsh Government to account over its decision to plough ahead with imposing a tourism tax on our country.
Before I outline my serious concerns with the proposed tax, allow me to firstly explain why the tourism sector is vital to Monmouthshire and, indeed, the whole of Wales.
Did you know that (roughly) just under 10% of the Welsh population is employed by the industry; that means hundreds of thousands of jobs are directly linked to Wales’ tourism sector. That is a huge figure.
So, this inevitably then begs the question: what is the rationale in wanting to introduce a policy that will undoubtedly hammer a precious Welsh industry?
In a nutshell, the tourism tax would impose a levy on visitors coming to Wales; therefore, making the sector less competitive because it will become more expensive to stay in and visit. This is why I am calling on the Welsh Government to think deeply about the implications of pursuing its short-sighted aim.
My biggest fear is that the tax could prove to be the nail in the coffin for businesses spread across the whole of Wales – and especially those running along the border. Increased costs would substantially shift the tourist dynamic, from those who would normally stay for a night or longer to not at all.
And could you blame hard-pressed families for opting to instead stay at, say, the Forest of Dean to save money? I certainly couldn’t. Taxing the tourism industry is simply not the right thing to do as we rebuild from the pandemic and face ever-growing cost of living pressures.
At present, the Welsh tourism sector is a jewel in the crown, and we need to preserve that at all costs. The most effective way forward is cutting taxes to allow Welsh businesses breathing space.
Ultimately, businesses need more investment, not to be slapped with a tourism tax.