Wales could be the latest country to tax visitors, with its government launching a public consultation on a potential tourism tax.
It is thought any such tax would result in anybody – either domestic or in-bound visitors – staying overnight in paid accommodation in the country paying a small additional levy.
The crux of Wales’ consultation will be getting views on who exactly should pay the levy, who should charge a levy and how tax revenue should be spent.
It may not end up being a nationwide tax, as each separate local authority in Wales will be able to introduce it or not.
“These proposals are about preparing for the future. Our intention is to bring about a sense of shared responsibility between residents and visitors, to protect, and invest in, our local areas,” Wales’ Minister for Finance and Local Government Rebecca Evans was quoted as saying by local news service Nation.Cymru.
“By asking visitors – whether they have travelled from within Wales or from further afield – to make a small contribution towards maintaining and enhancing the place they are visiting, we will encourage a more sustainable approach for tourism,” Ms Evans said.
Councillor Andrew Morgan, who is also Welsh Local Government Association leader, said: “Wales is known the world over as a top destination, but it’s important to ensure that tourism is sustainable and has the right investment so that it can be enjoyed in the future.
“Under these proposals, councils would have the discretion to raise the levy to ensure their communities and the tourism infrastructure is properly funded.
“Levies are a common feature in tourist destinations internationally and the forthcoming consultation is an important opportunity for residents and businesses to have their say on the way forward.”
Plaid Cymru’s Cefin Campbell said: “We want to continue to see a thriving tourism industry in Wales. It is vital we have sustainable, responsible tourism that works both for visitors and for the communities they are visiting.
“Should local authorities decide to implement a visitor levy, it could make a real difference in communities across Wales to help develop and protect local services and infrastructure.
“We welcome all views in understanding what would work well for Wales and encourage everyone to contribute to the consultation.”
The Welsh division of the Conservative Party has rejected the idea, but it has caught on elsewhere and seems to be a growing theme.
Currently, there are more than 40 places around the world which charge tourists additional money to stay – including France, Greece, California, Amsterdam and Barcelona.
If Wales passes the suggestion it will likely become the second UK region to introduce such a levy.
Last month, Edinburgh said it is set to start charging tourists a tax for visiting the city.
The move – which is set to be introduced by the Scottish government – will see overnight visitors to the city pay a small additional fee on top of their accommodation costs.
It has been estimated that such a charge could generate around £15m per year for Edinburgh Council to spend on its sustainable tourism offering.