OVER the years, Wales has worshipped uncritically at the altar of mass tourism.
Tourism has been the golden calf here, lauded by all parties alike, with not one of them daring to question the narrative that this was always beneficial for Wales.
Despite all the mounting evidence built up over the years, that the costs of tourism were far outstripping the benefits.
The cultural costs are well documented, with more and more communities in rural Wales being relentlessly anglicised thanks to tourism.
There’s also been a heavy social price to pay with locals being priced out of housing in their own communities due to a glut of second homes.
And then it’s also been an econonomic crash ball, with whole areas being deemed unfit for anything other than ‘tourism’: offering up poor-paying and low status jobs for local people.
And now we have an alarming health cost on top of all this, with reports of people from England flocking to their second homes in rural Wales – believing it to be a kind of ‘virus-free colony’ as Covid 19 rages on.
Putting an additional strain on the local health service and associated infrastructure, which is struggling enough as it is.
This irresponsible behaviour has continued, despite the government’s advice against ‘non-essential travel’ at this time, to prevent transmission of the virus.
Such visitors believe Wales to be some sort of idyllic playground, but their actions could well turn it into a battleground, should the rates of the virus in rural Wales – so low at this point in time – actually increase with this influx.
GWLAD has been the first Welsh party to propose a tourist tax, and we believe that these developments can only strenghen the appeal of this policy.
When Covid 19 eventually relents several months down the line, Wales will need a huge economic stimulus to get the nation moving again.
A tourist tax – a policy now commonplace in many nations and cities throughout Europe – can help shift the balance away from tourist costs to benefits for our local communities.
A tourist tax of say £3 per individual per night in whatever accomodation, could be hypothocated, and ploughed back into local services and facilities.
But the whole tourist industry also needs root and branch reform to turn it into an industry which serves Welsh interests first and foremost.
The link between tourism and second homes has got to be broken, and some form of residency law also needs to be brought in to control who can actually buy homes in Wales as well.
Wales needs a party which will not flinch from saying the hard truths that need to be faced about the failings of the current tourism model we have in place.
GWLAD won’t be afraid of incurring the wrath of the ‘Guardian type’ progressives who have such a sway over our current political life here in Wales.
It’s time to say as it is.