Plans to introduce a specific charge on visitors intending to claim Wales’ highest mountain look set to fail.

Meeting last October, Gwynedd Council backed calls for such mitigation on yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) amid fears that the county is suffering from “over tourism.”

Llais Gwynedd councillor Glyn Daniels had presented the motion amid claims that the area is not benefitting as it should from such natural assets, with members overwhelmingly backing an “opening of the debate”.

Yr Wyddfa attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year and the introduction of a £2 charge to climb would generate around £1 million a year, according to supporters of the idea.

However, Snowdonia National Park authority cast doubt on introducing a charge, claiming that a change in the law would be required with national parks not holding tax raising powers.

Now, in a formal response to Gwynedd Council, the chief executive of the national park, Emyr Williams, said “attempting to set tariffs would raise a number of points”.

While acknowledging ongoing talks over a more general tourism tax, Mr Williams pointed out that the current points of access to the mountain are based on six public rights of way, open access land and access agreements.

Adding that any introduction of a charge would be “very difficult”, Mr Williams continued: “Setting any kind of charging system for access on Snowdon would set a precedent for public rights of way and would be contrary to the ethos of the Highways Act.

“This would undoubtedly be subject to significant and severe legal challenge at a national level. This is arguably contrary to the ethos of the National Parks Act and all the legislation that has been in place since the Second World War.”

“Any option of implementation would require an element of enforcement and control. In order to do this a staff resource would be required on the ground.

“This would have to result in the creation of a specific role as the role of council staff and authority wardens at present focuses on developing the relationship we have with the public, landowners and partners rather than enforcement.”

National Park charges are common in many countries around the world, with a fee to access specific popular areas such as mountains and trails also common.

Such charges to access national parks in the UK are less common however, with public rights of way taking a precedent.

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A recent report by Gwynedd Council found the level of wages within the tourism sector “very low in Gwynedd compared with other sectors and other areas”.

Prior to the pandemic, tourism contributed more than £1.35 billion to the local economy in Gwynedd, with 7.81 million annual visitors employing more than 18,200 people.

Such an imbalance lead councillors to consider a number of ways in which tourism could be managed more efficiently and effectively.

The introduction of a park entrance fee as well as a general tourism tax have been put forward as potential solutions to the area’s “over dependency” on tourism, especially in “honey pots” such as yr Wyddfa.

Such a levy would require the Welsh Government to introduce new legislation, however, and Gwynedd Council has been lobbying ministers to allow the charging of a modest “tourism tax” on overnight visitors to help mitigate the “tourism imbalance.”

Commenting on the feesibility of a tourism levy, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The work to explore a potential tourism levy was paused due to the pandemic.

“We will resume engagement with the tourism sector and our partners in local government, and our focus will continue to be on supporting the tourism sector in its recovery.”

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