London is the latest to consider the tourist tax to pay for public transport, as part of the Welsh government’s consultation plans

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Image by Julius Silver from Pixabay

London is the latest part of the UK to impose a city tax to pay for services such as public transport.

Tourists in London are set to face a new tourism tax to fund Transport for London, which is facing a funding crisis, the London Assembly heard yesterday.

The move comes as the Welsh Government announced plans to consult on a visitor’s tax Later this yearwhich, if implemented, could give councils a say in how much they could charge visitors to their areas.

Last week Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, speaking just hours before resigning in a bid to oust Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, called on Prime Minister Mark Drakeford to ‘drop his ludicrous plans for a tourism tax “.

But Professor Tony Travers from the London School of Economics told the London Assembly yesterday that a visitor’s tax would cost ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’ a year – and suggested it could be used to solve the Transport for London funding crisis.

New York, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Amsterdam already apply a similar tax.

Professor Travers told the London Assembly that a new tourist levy of a few pounds a night for international visitors “would be on a list of potential ways to produce longer-term funding” for Transport for London.

“No insurance”

Welsh Tories have previously called on the Welsh Government to drop its ‘damaging proposals’ for a tourism tax.

In April, they put forward a proposal calling on the Welsh government to drop the plans which form part of their cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru.

“So they say the introduction of a tourist tax would have no impact on the number of visitors to some of our main tourist sites in Wales,” said Senedd member Tom Giffard.

“But I thought ministers might be keen to hear the latest from Venice, one of the world’s top tourist destinations, which has now said it was introducing a tourism tax to deter other visitors from attend it.

“Yes, you heard that right; it turns out the extra visitor fees mean fewer people want to visit.

“We also know from my inquiries of both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance that there is no assurance that such a tax will lead to additional expenditure to improve the tourist offer in these areas.

‘The government cannot or will not be able to prevent councils from scrapping existing tourism budgets and replacing them with this tax instead.’

‘Empower’

The Welsh Government responded that tourism taxes are commonplace around the world, with revenues being used to benefit local communities, tourists and businesses, which in turn helps to make tourism sustainable and thriving.

“Tourism taxes, of course, as we’ve heard, are very common around the world, with most countries in Europe applying them,” Finance and Local Government Minister Rebecca Evans said.

“They are proportionate by design and they represent a small percentage of consumers’ overall bill. There is little evidence that tourism taxes have a negative economic impact. They are used to benefit local areas and the communities that choose to use them.

“The powers will be discretionary, allowing local authorities to make their own judgment and decide what is best for their communities.

“Of course, I welcome all views and evidence as we continue to work collaboratively with our partners to help shape these proposals. A major consultation will take place later this year, and this will be an opportunity for all points of view to be heard and taken into account.

“Through this process, we will design a tax that is aligned with our core tax principles and that works for communities in Wales.”


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