Tourism chiefs call for rethink of new rules for self-catering holiday accommodation

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Holiday cottage in Aberdaron. Photo by A Crowe Photography is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Tourism leaders in Wales are calling for a rethink of new measures which are being introduced to determine if self-catering holiday accommodation operators qualify for business rate relief.

Under the proposals from the Welsh Government the number of days a self-catering business must be open will increase to 252 days a year (an 80% increase.) and the property must then be let out for 182 days an increase of 150%.

At present to be classed as a business in Wales, self-catering operators have to be open for holiday bookings for 140 days a year, and their properties must be let for 70 days a year.

Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA) researchers found that when asked only 16% of self-catering operators thought they could work within this 182-day threshold.

According to the WTA many Welsh operators indicated these new letting day requirements are simply “unattainable,” but if operators fail to meet these new proposals they will no longer qualify for business rate relief and will have to pay council tax instead.

In parallel with the rate relief changes, from next year councils in Wales will be given the power to charge up to an extra 300% council tax on self-catering businesses that fail to get their properties let for 182 days.

There are approximately 8000 self-catering properties in Wales, generating approximately £134 million every year for the Welsh economy and sustaining approximately 4700 jobs.

Rural economy

Self-catering accommodation has become increasingly significant for the rural economy in recent years, with 14% of the 34.000 Welsh farms now having some form of tourism element, mainly self-catering.

Ashford Price, secretary of the Welsh Association of Visitor Attractions and Chairman of the National Showcaves Centre for Wales said: “Like the tourism tax the Welsh Government have not carried out any form of economic impact assessments on these proposed new rate measures.

“If self-catering businesses fail to meet the new letting days requirements these higher council rates will simply make their operational costs so high as to make their business model unviable and they will then have no option but to close down their business and make staff redundant.

“When these rate changes come about Wales will not be able to compete with similar self-catering operations in England/Scotland as the only way they could fund the increase in their rates bill would be to put prices up at a time when families are facing the biggest cost of living crisis since the 1950’s, with many families looking for competitive prices in order to have a holiday at all.

“Many genuine tourism operators feel that with the proposed tourism tax and self-catering rate changes the Welsh tourism industry is at a crossroads and the Welsh Government needs to decide if they want a vibrant tourist industry for Wales.

“Finally, if the Welsh Government goes ahead with the new requirement of 182 letting days to qualify for business rates Wales will lose a massive number of self-catering operators, many tourism jobs will disappear, and the local economy will suffer as there will be fewer visitors to buy their goods.

“The Welsh Government need to rethink their proposals urgently before inflicting serious economic damage on one of Wales success stories- self-catering.”

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