ONE of Monmouth’s oldest businesses fears being “pushed out” of Wales by what a proposed "tourism tax".

The Welsh Government is considering plans charging tourists to Wales a levy for overnight stays, similar to that charged in a number of European cities - although it has set local authorities would have a final say in whether to implement such charges.

A consultation on the plans - dubbed a 'tourism tax' by critics - is due to launch in the autumn. 

Graham Symonds, who started Monmouth Canoe and Activity Centre in 1974, warned a tax on visitors holidaying in Wales would make the tourism industry less competitive – and make Wales seem more expensive.

“Tourism in Wales is already under the cosh and a tax like this would be a hammer blow,” he said.

“We are probably one of the oldest businesses running in Monmouth and are credited with starting the canoe hire industry on the River Wye, something Wales should be proud of.

“I cannot remember the last time I spoke to anyone connected to the Welsh Government or tourism in Wales. It’s almost as if tourism is a forgotten industry.”

There are around 29 other companies hiring canoes on the river from Glasbury in Powys to Monmouth.

“This information speaks for itself,” Mr Symonds said.

“There appears to be a better climate for what we do across the border. England is just across the way and, while it is tempting to move, I started the business in Wales and I do not want to be pushed out by economics.

“We are working very hard here. It is not a magic money-making business and if we have a bad season weather-wise, it can flatline very quickly.

“You do it for the love and enjoyment."

Despite recent protests highlighting the effects of pollution in the Wye, Mr Symonds also claimed that "there is more wildlife on the river now than I have ever seen".

“I fear a tourism tax would have a detrimental effect and turn people away from Wales," he said.

"It could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We are totally against this proposal in any shape or form.”

On a visit to Monmouth Canoe and Activity Centre, Monmouth MP David Davies described Welsh Government plans to pursue a tourism tax as “utterly illogical”.

“A local visitor levy would have a devastating impact on businesses like Graham and Sue’s, which are competing with businesses just a few miles away in England,” he said.

“Instead of hammering jobs and businesses with utterly illogical taxes, the Welsh Government should be doing more to encourage people to come and visit Wales.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are consulting on giving local authorities the power to introduce a visitor levy.

"This would be a small charge paid by people staying overnight in Wales and enjoying everything our beautiful country has to offer. Each local authority in Wales will have the power to decide if they want to introduce a visitor levy.

“Visitor levies are commonplace across the world, with revenues used to the benefit of local communities, tourists and businesses.

"We will take all views on board as part of the consultation process this autumn.”