As chair of the South West Wales Regional Forum, our director George Reid has been involved in two important meetings this month. The Regional Forum chaired by George, highlighted the disappointing numbers of both domestic and overseas visitors to Wales in the first half of this year and once again expressed his concern that impending legislation surrounding the 182 rule would put further stress on the operation and profitability of furnished let accommodation if they fail to reach the arbitrary required number of days their property is occupied. He has sought details of the rationale for the 182-day target via an FOI request which will be responded to by the end of the year.
Attendance at the Visitor Economy Forum chaired by Dawn Bowden AM - Deputy Minister for Tourism - allowed George to outline once again the concerns of FHL businesses in the current climate of high borrowing costs, rampant inflation and unprecedented levels of utility bills. The deputy minister was asked to try and arrange an urgent face-to-face meeting with Rebecca Evans AM - Minister for Finance and Local Authorities whose portfolio this legislation falls under - to discuss sensible amendments that would achieve the objectives of the legislation without unnecessary damage to the sector. Two previous requests made by Cefin Campbell AM, Plaid Cymru's designated member in the co-operation agreement on George's behalf have been turned down without reason being given.
An announcement will be made today (Thursday 14th December 2023) on the introduction of a registration/licencing scheme for all accommodation providers in Wales. This will start off as a simple Registration Scheme at no cost to businesses but will have two further phases that will fall under a Licencing scheme further down the line which will cover premises safety and Quality of the business. Licencing schemes will come at a cost to businesses. Timescale was not indicated but generally accepted that this will fall in line with the introduction of the Tourism Levy.
There is currently a consultation on the alteration of the school terms which we would urge you all to complete ASAP. The consultation runs for 12 weeks and will conclude on 12th February 2024.
Two Focus / Stakeholder Groups are being set up - one for the Tourism Levy and the other for the school year amendments. George will have a seat in both these groups and will fight hard for the sector having taken on your views at our recent sector engagement meetings.
The Welsh Government will indicate their budget plans on 16th December 2023 and ministers are forewarning of difficult decisions on funding ahead. We have requested that the current rate relief of 75% be maintained in line with our English counterparts which was announced in the Chancellors Autumn statement earlier this year.
If you have any feedback or concerns that you would like us to raise on your behalf, please contact us via our website or contact our individual directors.