Tourism Leaders offer insight into public spending ahead of council tax hike on second homes

HOLIDAY park bosses are urging landlords to explore static caravan sales ahead of a council tax on hike on second homes next year.

Plans to bump up council tax by 300% have been unveiled by the Welsh Government, which could see second homeowners paying up to four times more in premiums as of April 2023.

Residents have dubbed this as “a bad move, and with no thought for the consequences” after the Welsh Government shared their plans to combat the number of second homes in rural Welsh communities.

These new plans range from new local tax rules for holiday lets and holiday cottages, to increasing the maximum level of council tax premiums on second homes by 2023, and to changing the criteria whereby self-catering accommodation owners are more liable for council tax payments instead of business rates.

Amid these fears, one leading tourism group on the North Welsh coast is highlighting how a local life of leisure is still possible with static holiday home ownership, which doesn’t require council tax payments.

Both the holiday home sales and holiday bookings businesses boomed during the summers of 2020 and 2021, with a record-breaking number of people purchasing a static caravan at one of Lyons Holiday Parks’ 14 sites or choosing to take a holiday on the renowned North Wales Coast.

This year, directors at the 96-year-old, fifth-generation tourism group hope for another successful summer ahead – despite the current economic climate.

Joseph-Lyons Mounds, one of the company directors, said: “The impact of coronavirus on many sectors across North Wales was undeniable: but the industry is bouncing back, and last year we celebrated a record-breaking year for holiday home sales.

“This was solely down to the fact that people had realised how incredible holidaying at home can be, and people across the UK wanted to maximise the wonderful places such as North Wales, and Cumbria, on their doorstep.

“While the cost of living has risen, and therefore council tax for homeowners and even second homeowners, we want to highlight that when it comes to the North Wales economy and tourism industry, it really is possible to get more for your money.”

Joseph, alongside his brother and fellow director, Geoff Lyons-Mound, was shortlisted for an Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award at the Go North Wales ceremony in November. The pair wish to highlight that due to the ‘non-residential’ status of their holiday parks, holiday home owners aren’t required to pay council tax – meaning owners can curb their spending on rates and focus their money on the ‘things that matter to the family.’

He said: “Prospective buyers always look at hard facts, such as how much the unit is worth, what are the site fees, and whether there are any running costs. But people don’t often think of how much they could save by choosing to holiday at home rather than abroad.

“Purchasing a holiday home in somewhere as picturesque as North Wales is a lifetime investment in family memories and wellbeing, and takes away the trouble and added costs of airport transfers, travel insurance, extortionate prices abroad for things like activities and family meals.

“When you buy a holiday home with a company such as Lyons Holiday Parks, so many things are included which you’d never get on a package deal abroad. Things like water rates are included, you don’t have to worry about council tax, and you’ll have access to all of our facilities and amenities at all of our parks, which will cut costs.”

Research by the leading holiday group last year revealed that the average cost of a 2-week holiday in Spain for a family of 4 was £4,373. Contrastingly, annual site fees at their flagship park in Rhyl start from £4,195 for the 2022 season where guests can holiday every weekend for 46 weeks out of the year.

Subletting schemes are also available which can help offset the cost of site fees – a perfect letting side hustle for those keen to purchase a ‘second home’, but without the extortionate council tax hikes seen in Mid Wales.

Geoff said: “Subletting means our owners get the best of both worlds: they get a space to relax with their families whenever they choose, and they also have accommodation to rent out themselves and earn commission.

“What’s more is that subletting, and our competitive ownership packages, ultimately increases footfall for the local economy, and the local high streets we’re all trying to save.

“When you look at the bigger picture, a successful summer for caravan sales means North Wales retains its position as a sought-after tourist hotspot – without the extortionate prices seen in the resorts in the south of England or even central Europe.”

The group also highlight that purchasing a static caravan in an already tourist-popular resort such as North Wales aligns with the Welsh Government’s initiative to keep house prices in rural areas of the country low following a boom in average values during the pandemic.