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Tourism Chair Calls for Post-Budget Support for Wales’ Tourism Businesses

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The Welsh Government is being urged to prioritise support for business rates, staffing, training and specific capital investment in Wales’ tourism sector with the money it receives from UK Government’s Budget.

The call is made by Suzy Davies, chair of Wales Tourism Alliance, which represents all sectors of tourism industry in Wales. She welcomed the UK Government’s Budget commitments this week and hopes the Welsh Government will now follow suit.

“It was important that the Chancellor continued to recognise some of the pressures directly affecting tourism over this challenging period,” she said. “The lower VAT rate for tourism businesses remains very welcome but many of today’s announcements relate only to England.

“The Welsh Government will, of course, be receiving money as a consequence of these announcements. As the Covid issues affecting tourism businesses here in Wales are familiar across Britain, we will be asking Welsh Government to use that money in much the same way.

“Urgent action is needed on business rates, specific capital investment and staffing/training and this Budget makes money available for just that.

“Wales Tourism Alliance will continue to work with members to offer a high quality, high value, highly ethical and reliable experience for visitors as well as promoting tourism as a well-rewarded and satisfying career.

“Businesses will need targeted help from governments to do that to best effect and help make Wales a more prosperous place to live and work.”

The furlough scheme and temporary reduction of VAT to 5% for tourism businesses ended on October 1. The UK Government has now restricted  VAT for tourism businesses to 12.5% until March 2022.

The Chancellor announced a 29% increase in adult skills funding which will go towards a range of policies in England including continuing the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee to offer free Level 3 courses for adults and quadrupling the current scale of Skills Bootcamps.

“In Wales, we hope the visitor economy will be seen by the Welsh Government as a wise investment for its existing apprenticeship plans as well as any new opportunities created by the incoming money,” added Mrs Davies.

“New investment of £1.6 billion for the education of 16–19-year olds in England will maintain funding in the face of demographic growth and provide additional hours for learners who take T Levels.

“Whilst Wales is not providing T Levels, we hope the Welsh Government will encourage our brightest and best students to recognise the value of vocational education at all levels.”

Other Budget announcements picked out by Mrs Davies included business rates improvement relief in England which will see new investment incentives totalling almost £750 million, including tax relief for eligible green investments, such as new hotel rooms and solar panels.

She called for Welsh Government support for tourism businesses and attractions to replace gas boilers and instal electric charging points.

Mrs Davies also hopes the Welsh Government will follow Westminster’s lead by supporting a 50% business rates discount for retail, hospitality and leisure whilst making a commitment to modernise the business rates system.

She welcomed a 50% cut in Air Passenger Duty for flights between airports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, less tax on draught beer and cider and the continued fuel duty freeze.

She also welcomed the increased tax relief for theatres, museums, orchestras and galleries across the UK until March 31, 2024 when investing in new productions and exhibitions. £850m has also been earmarked to protect museums, galleries, libraries and local culture in England.