Consultation on proposals for a tourist tax in Wales will begin this autumn in a move that is being attacked by the sector.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said a “local visitor tax” would ensure that destinations in Wales will be enjoyed by “generations to come”.
Any final decision on whether to use one would be up to each local authority.
But North Wales Tourism chief executive Jim Jones said he found it “staggering” that the Welsh government is still talking about a tax on tourism.
Tourism makes a substantial economic contribution to Wales, with tourism-related spending reaching over £5 billion a year in 2019.
The Welsh Government has said a tourism levy would boost local authority revenue, allowing them to run the services and infrastructure that make tourism successful.
But critics warn there will be another tax burden on the sector – making Wales less competitive compared to other parts of the UK.
The government said it would provide a platform for consideration of a range of views.
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said: “Visitor levies are a common feature in tourist destinations internationally.
“They are an opportunity for visitors to invest in local infrastructure and services, which in turn make tourism a success. Without such a levy, local communities face an excessive burden to fund local services and benefits that tourists depend on.
“From keeping beaches and sidewalks clean to maintaining local parks, restrooms and trails, the critical infrastructure that supports tourism must be supported by all who depend on it. The tax will apply to those who pay to spend the night within a local authority region.”
Member-designate Cefin Campbell MS said, “This measure will help support a sustainable rather than extractive tourism sector, which will help bring the greatest benefit to communities and the local economy.
But Jim Jones said: “A tax on tourism would be an extremely regressive step that would hurt an industry that is already reeling from being battered by the pandemic.
“It also makes no sense strategically because the tourism and hospitality sector is well placed to lead North Wales down the path to economic recovery, so it would be an obstacle to our regional renewal.
“We talk to businesses every day and they are totally opposed to the idea of a tourist tax.
“The sector is already heavily overtaxed as it is and on top of everything else, loans taken out during the pandemic have to be repaid.
“Local authorities are already receiving millions of pounds in compensation from the Welsh Government to cope with the influx of visitors through the Enhanced Population Grant – the more visitors the more money they get, I think we need to establish where that money is being spent first.
“We would oppose the introduction of a tourist tax at any time, but to consider it now would be an absolute disaster.
“It would be counterproductive and deter visitors from coming here, which would hurt our economic performance.”