Posted: Wed 29th Jul 2020

Calls for Snowdon visitors to be charged a fee to scale Wales’ highest peak to mitigate tourism impact

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jul 29th, 2020

Councillors in Gwynedd will be asked to back a toll on those visiting Wales’ highest peak in a bid to mitigate the impact of tourism on north west Wales.

Responding to the latest much publicised scenes showing hundreds of cars blocking the roads of Eryri (Snowdonia), the principled support of Gwynedd’s councillors will be sought in calling for an “appropriate fee” to be levied on those scaling the summit of yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) by rail or by foot.

Cllr Glyn Daniels, who represents Ffestiniog’s Diffwys a Maenofferen ward, suggested that the proceeds could be reinvested into facilities for tourists as well as the nearby communities that support the industry.

Such a move, he said, would bring in an annual six figure sum even if visitors were charged as little as £1, with the peak said to attract 475,000 tourists every year.

Having submitted a motion to be discussed during October’s next full council meeting, Cllr Daniels told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it enjoyed the support of the Llais Gwynedd group, suggesting that the revenue could be shared between Gwynedd Council and the Snowdonia National Park.

“This would not only raise revenue for both the council and the park but could also contribute to building new car parks, therefore lessening the number of vehicles illegally parking on the roads on certain days,” he said, adding that the party’s leader, Owain Williams, had suggested similar moves over 10 years ago.

“It should be remembered that several countries pursue these kinds of policies, I refer to Switzerland, Canada and New Zealand to name a few.

“When tens of thousands of tourist flock to our beauty spots, surely we should be able to benefit a little more financially?

“We’re not asking for gold nuggets, but then again we deserve more than peanuts.”

A voluntary scheme is already in operation locally, known as Rhodd Eryri (Snowdonia Giving), which sees participating local businesses ask visitors to donate to beneficiaries as designated by the Snowdonia Partnership.

But with around £250,000 a year already being spent on the maintenance of Snowdonia’s pathways, and visitor numbers continuing to grow annually, calls have intensified for a more formal levy.

While a general tourism tax would be a Welsh Government decision, a spokesman said that a localised toll for those scaling Snowdon would be a matter to be discussed by the national park and Gwynedd Council.

In 2018, as part of a Welsh Government consultation on potential future taxes, Gwynedd Council’s cabinet gave its principled backing to an official tax on tourists staying overnight in the county.

Similar taxes are already in operation across many cities across Europe, and it was felt that it could work well while being collected and distributed by the authority itself.

Cllr Ioan Thomas said at the time, “We’re not talking a large levy here. It’s a very small amount, usually a few pennies or a euro or two on the continent.

“I’m certainly supportive.”

Speaking on Radio Cymru earlier this month, council leader Dyfrig Siencyn suggested that the area was already suffering from “overtourism,” adding that the authority was working with the national park and other agencies to develop a long term vision for the future of tourism in the region.

“We should look at introducing some kind of tourism tax in order to compensate us for the effort we are having to make in cleaning after them and keeping paths going and so on,” he said.

“These are difficult questions and any answer will require large capital spending and we need to ask who pays for that.”

Gwynedd Council’s economic development portfolio holder, Gareth Thomas, said that while tourism is one of Gwynedd’s main economic sectors and an important employer, the increase in the numbers of people visiting the county puts “significant pressure on local infrastructure.”

While deputy leader, Dafydd Meurig, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We would welcome the introduction of a tourism tax as is the norm already in other European countries.

“The  tax would support local infrastructure, local communities and the local landscape.

“Introducing a small tourism levy lies with the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru Gwynedd’s response was made clear to the Labour Government in a consultation response back in the beginning of 2018.

“The recent impact of tourism numbers affecting Gwynedd’s roads, villages and communities confirms the need for Welsh Government to move this issue forward.

“A successful tourism industry needs a thriving local community as its core.”

Both the Snowdonia National Park Authority and the Welsh Government have been asked to comment.

By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter

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