Visitors to Snowdonia may be forced to pay a 'tourism tax'

Visitors to Snowdonia should pay a 'tourism tax' to make up for the disruption they cause, a North Wales politician says.

Walkers crowd onto the summit point on Snowdon
Walkers crowd onto the summit point on Snowdon

The national park is visited by millions of people every year, many of them coming from the West Midlands and Shropshire.

The visitors help support the local economy, but one politician believes they should be charged extra to pay for improvements.

The money would be used to improve infrastructure in Snowdonia, helping with issues like a lack of car parking and congestion on narrow roads.

Gwynedd Council leader Dyfrig Siencyn believes Gwynedd’s taxpayers should not be expected to underwrite facilities used by holidaymakers.

In the autumn, a tourism tax, or levy, for those staying overnight in Wales, will be considered in a Welsh Government consultation.

The proposal will prove unpopular with many people from the West Midlands who traditionally visit the region, with many having second homes or caravans within the national park.

It has also divided many within Welsh tourism and those who rely on visitors for their income.

But Councillor Siencyn said it was the only solution for councils grappling with stretched budgets. He also spoke of his opposition to day-trippers, most of whom come across the border from Shropshire or south from Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

He said he wants to attract the “right kind of visitor” – those staying overnight and not day-trippers, who bring their own food and contribute little to local economies.

“The council, like every other council, has to work within a tight budget,” Councillor Siencyn told Welsh speaking channel S4C.

“There is a solution to that problem by charging a tourist tax. Why should Gwynedd’s taxpayers have to pay for visitor facilities? Shouldn’t these visitors contribute towards the facilities they need? When we have to squeeze our budget, we have some very difficult choices to make.”

Before the Covid pandemic, 7.8 million people visited the area in 2019, up 11.6 per cent on the previous year. Since then, visitor numbers have climbed again, though there are signs the staycation boom may be ebbing this year now that overseas destinations are open again.

Snowdonia has been hit by poor parking on mountain roads, congestion on main routes and anti-social behaviour on the mountains, with littering and even human waste left on the slopes of Snowdon. Long queues have also formed on Wales' highest mountain as people flock to the summit.

Brynrefail-born Eric Baylis, a volunteer for Keep Llanberis Tidy, says he comes across human faeces in the village almost every weekend as the public toilets are closed overnight.

He would like to see the council invest in more bins and toilets that are open 24 hours a day that would cost 20p to use.

“We see all this stuff promoting the area now,” he said. “But nothing is being done about the infrastructure. No bins, no toilets. I don’t know where we’re going with all of this. The council needs to get its act together in Llanberis.”

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