Plans for a tourism tax, which would allow local authorities such as Pembrokeshire to introduce a visitor levy, have moved a step closer.

New consumer research has found a majority of people supporting the principle that tourists should contribute towards the costs of maintaining and investing in the destinations they stay in.

Rebecca Evans, the Minister for Finance and Local Government, has confirmed plans for a visitor levy in Wales are proceeding and legislation enabling local authorities to introduce a levy in their areas will be put to the Senedd within this government term.

The levy will be a small charge paid by people staying in commercially-let overnight visitor accommodation.

Similar charges are commonplace around the world, used in more than 40 destinations including Greece, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Catalonia.

Local authorities will decide whether to introduce a levy and the funds raised will be used to benefit local areas.

More than a thousand responses were received to a public consultation about how best to implement a levy which closed last December.

Its findings were published on Thursday, 30 March, along with a consumer research report exploring views among the public about a visitor levy.

The consultation gave feedback from businesses, local authorities and the wider public. It found support across most local authorities and across other organisations, although many responses came from representatives of the tourism industry and many disagreed with the principle of a visitor levy.

A majority (58%) of respondents agree that tourists should contribute towards the costs of maintaining and investing in the destinations they stay in, rising amongst people with lots of tourism in their area – in Wales (66%) and the UK (72%) with only 13% disagreeing.

Support for a levy was strongest in areas that attract the most tourists. The survey found that two thirds of people in Wales who reported that they live in areas that had a lot of tourism back the introduction of a visitor levy.

Respondents to the survey were "more positive than negative" when introduced to the concept of a visitor levy in a place where they go on holiday or in their area. 

Some 45% were positive, and 25% were negative and positivity increased amongst people with lots of tourism in their area.

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government said: “As the Easter break approaches and many parts of Wales prepare to welcome visitors from around the world, it’s more important than ever that we look to create a sustainable tourism sector that also supports local communities.

"Over the coming years, we will continue to work with businesses, local government and all our partners to design a levy that will put power into the hands of local communities.”

Western Telegraph: The popular seaside town of TenbyThe popular seaside town of Tenby (Image: Gareth Davies Photography)

The Minister continued: “We understand some businesses have reservations about a visitor levy and I am grateful to all those who took the time to respond to our consultation.

"These responses will be carefully considered as we continue to develop our specific plans for a levy.

"Many destinations around the world use visitor levies to empower and enhance their local areas for the benefit of visitors and locals alike – I am confident this will be the case here in Wales.”

Proposals for a visitor levy have been progressed through Welsh Government’s Co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru.

Plaid Cymru Designated Member Cefin Campbell said: “We want Wales to have a thriving, sustainable tourism sector and the visitor levy will play a part in achieving this. 

"Our aim is to develop responsible tourism that works both for visitors and for the communities they are visiting. Local authorities will be able to introduce a small contribution from visitors enjoying their area to help develop and protect local services and infrastructure."

Opponents to the tourism tax, however, say it would put people off visiting Wales.

Welsh Conservatives Shadow Minister for Tourism Tom Giffard said: "Nothing says welcome to Wales more than Labour announcing they will be pressing ahead with their toxic tourism tax as families gear up for the Easter holidays.

"Tourism supports one in seven jobs in Wales enabling people to pay council tax, helping to tackle the issues that Labour claim a tourism tax would fix.

"The Labour government should be working with the industry to boost this vital sector instead of taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut."

Visit Pembrokeshire said it was "very disappointed" at the announcement.

"It's disheartening to hear that the strong opposition from the trade across Wales has not been listened to," said Emma Thornton, its chief executive.