A TOURISM leader in North Wales has slammed Airbnb for its “cynical support” for a Welsh Government plan to tax the industry.

Jim Jones, the chief executive of North Wales Tourism, described the plan to impose the controversial Tourism Tax as a “flawed idea”.

Airbnb have said they back the idea and that they want to work with the Welsh Government in a bid to tackle so-called “over tourism”.

Mr Jones said any additional levy would be counterproductive and deter visitors from coming to North Wales and play to the “anti-visitor mantra”.

With Covid restrictions being eased, the last thing that was needed was a tax that would encourage “staycationers” to go to other parts of the UK instead.

“Instead of the Welsh Government prioritising the recovery and optimistically talking growth, such as a one per cent increase in tourism spend which would add an extra £20m to the economy, we find ourselves back to 2017 when the then Finance Minister Mark Drakeford was trying to push through four new taxes, one being tourism tax," he said.

“We told him then as we tell him now, this is not welcomed by the majority of the industry.

“It is counterproductive and will damage our economic performance, brand and prospects. It will also increase social exclusion, undermine policies to create a healthier and more active Wales, limit opportunities for economic growth in Welsh-speaking heartlands and disproportionately impact those least able to afford to take a holiday.

“It is extremely insensitive that the Welsh Government are talking about this and could not have come at a worse time for our industry, raising the subject knowing full well it will play into the anti-visitor mantra.

“Welsh tourism and hospitality businesses pay business rates to Welsh Government, revenue all generated through visitor spend and so already a tax on tourism spend.

“In my view the whole tourism tax model is flawed in Wales as local authorities already get an enhanced grant towards increased visitor numbers."

Mr Jones said he was also "very disappointed" that Airbnb had voiced support for the plan.

“They are not on a level playing field with our serviced accommodation sector, there is a statutory misalignment - whereby many Airbnb hosts can have no business insurance nor public liability insurance, have no responsibility to test electronic equipment and can freely dispose of waste through their local authority as if domestic tenants," he said.

“A majority of Airbnb owners are not registered for business rates and are unregulated, so how on earth would they propose to ensure compliance?"