We want to establish a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation providers in Wales.
We want to establish a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation providers in Wales. This will improve compliance with existing legal requirements and level the playing field for visitor accommodation providers.
The work is part of the Co-operation Agreement collaboration with Plaid Cymru. Introducing a statutory licensing scheme for holidays lets is also a Welsh Government Programme for Government commitment.
The proposals would require new legislation if taken forward. Policy development to legislation and implementation is a process that takes time. Measures are unlikely to come into force for several years, if approved by the Senedd. We are in the early stages of the process. Potential options about how the scheme will operate will be explored in more detail following the results of the consultation.
Licensing and registration schemes in other nations
Many places use a licensing, certification or registration scheme to encourage fairness across the visitor accommodation sector. In the UK, different approaches have been taken and are at different stages of development.
Examples of other schemes
In Northern Ireland all tourist accommodation providers must receive certification from Tourism NI before they are allowed to begin operating. Find out more: Tourism Northern Ireland: Accommodation, getting started
In Scotland anyone operating a short-term let before 1 October 2022 must apply for a licence by 1 October 2023. New businesses not operating before 1 October 2022 need a licence before they take any bookings or accept any guests. Find out more: Mygov.scot: Overview of short-term let licences
Following a call for evidence in summer 2022, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) ran a public consultation on a registration scheme for short-term lets in England from 12 April 2023 to 7 June 2023.
Isle of Man
In the Isle of Man all visitor accommodation and temporary event accommodation providers must register. Find out more: Visit Isle of Man: Accomodation
In Guernsey all visitor accommodation providers must obtain a permit. Find out more: Guernsey Legal Resources: Tourist (Amendment) Law, 1967
In Jersey properties used as hotels, guest houses, self-catering units or campsites must be registered as tourist accommodation. Find out more: gov.je: Registration of holiday accommodation
In France, at a national level, registration of any tourist accommodation is a legal obligation.
In Germany, at a national level, holiday rentals must be registered with the local residents’ registration office.
We will learn from these examples when developing proposals for a licensing scheme for Wales. We will also review what lessons can be learned from the Rent Smart Wales scheme.
The Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru commits to a statutory licensing scheme for holiday lets. This is part of a package of measures to address the negative impact second homes and short-term holiday lets can have on the availability and affordability of housing for local people in our communities. In July 2022, the First Minister and the Leader of Plaid Cymru confirmed plans to introduce a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation, including short-term lets. This will make it a requirement to obtain a licence with the aim of raising standards across the tourism industry.
We held a public consultation from 16 December 2022 to 17 March 2023: Statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation providers in Wales, to seek views on the proposed statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation in Wales. More than 1,500 individuals and organisations responded to the consultation.
We have been engaging with key stakeholders on how such a scheme could work in Wales. We held supplementary consultation events in May 2023 which focused on drawing out evidence about specific elements of the scheme. The independently facilitated events were held in mid, north and south Wales. Attendees represented national, regional and local tourism associations as well as representatives from:
- local authorities
- online travel agents
- farming and countryside unions and associations
- self-catering agencies.
Previous to these two consultation exercises, a contractor was appointed to undertake interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders. This included local authorities, sector representative bodies and visitor accommodation operators. These sessions explored a number of options and how any scheme could be taken forward and implemented in Wales.
Purpose and benefits of the scheme
The purpose of the scheme is to ensure all visitor accommodation providers meet a consistent set of standards. The scheme will help ensure visitor safety and boost consumer confidence in the industry.
Other benefits of the scheme include:
- level playing field: the scheme would provide the platform to ensure all operators comply with their statutory obligations
- health and safety and other protections: the scheme would provide an added level of protection to guests
- information: a comprehensive database, which is not currently available, will be developed detailing who is operating in the industry
- a platform for communication: Welsh Government and other partners (for example, local authorities) will be able to communicate on issues relating to regulation, providing advice on best practice or meeting certain standards and advising on other support that is available
- consumer confidence: the scheme would convey a very clear message to consumers that the sector in Wales is well managed, safe and legal
- an important foundation for other policy areas such as developing a visitor levy and the work on second homes.
We are proposing that all visitor accommodation providers in Wales must meet certain requirements in order to obtain a licence. Final decisions on how the scheme is run will be taken following full consideration of consultation responses.
Some concerns have been raised around the administrative and financial pressure the scheme could place on businesses and local authorities. We are aware that the scheme will need to be proportionate. We will use insight from the consultations to shape how the scheme will be delivered.