Wales

North Wales £1 tourist payback scheme raised

Red squirrel
Image caption Money raised from tourists could support local red squirrel conservation

Tourists in north Wales could be asked to add a small sum to their hotel bill or admission fee to help support environmental projects in the area.

The "visitor payback" scheme, floated to businesses and local authorities by Tourism Partnership North Wales, would see visitors donating as little as £1.

A similar project operating in the Lake District has raised £1.5m since 1993.

"There could be real benefits," said Goronwy Edwards of Conwy council.

Tourism Partnership North Wales, the organisation responsible for the development of the region's visitor economy, suggested the plan at a seminar at Llangefni, Anglesey.

At the meeting Sue Savege, director of the Cumbria Partnership, explained the advantages of the Lake District-based scheme.

Visitors to the area are asked to donate a very small sum, which is added to their accommodation bill or admission fee.

Tourism-related businesses are encouraged to join the scheme, paying membership of between £50 and £10,000 a year.

Ms Savege said the main source of income came from the "opt out" method whereby hotel customers were asked to pay an extra sum, typically £1, or tick a box to opt out of paying.

Businesses "adopt" particular environmental schemes which have to be approved by a panel of assessors, giving contributors a sense of ownership of their projects.

As more and more visitors and operators became aware of the need for sustainable, green tourism, there was an apparent willingness to support such an initiative, she said.

'Sustainable'

Dewi Davies, regional strategy director for Tourism Partnership North Wales, said the scheme had great potential.

"We have eight million staying visitors a year in North Wales and 17 million day visitors," he said.

"If each of those contributed only £1 each that would give us a very sustainable pot indeed."

Mr Edwards added: "It really seems to work well in the Lake District and I feel it is something well worth exploring.

"There could be real benefits if hotels, caravan park owners and others could be persuaded to raise the levy."

'Proposals'

Anglesey and the Clwydian Range were among areas suggested as potential target zones.

After the meeting Mr Davies said the Partnership would now draft proposals and identify specific environmental projects in the area.

"On Anglesey, for example, we might well be looking at things like the red squirrel conservation programme, the geodiversity project, Geo Môn, and the coastal path as the kind of schemes to be supported," he said.

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