We all have an affection for Wales. Thousands of West Midlanders travel there for holidays every year, especially to resorts like Barmouth and Aberystwyth. Snowdonia is a spectacular location and tourist operators in Wales depend on us.
Many of us will have paddled at Black Rock Sands with the backdrop of the looming mountains, creating memories that last a lifetime. Shropshire also straddles the beautiful Mid Wales Marches, with many communities sharing the border.
The number of people who welcome plans by the Welsh Government to tax those holidays is likely to be very small. Yet those in power want to do just that, getting people to pay more for the privilege of spending time in a country where tourism is one of its biggest industries.
With tens of thousands employed in the sector, the plans – according to critics – could be catastrophic. Any tax would at best be an annoyance to those of us who love visiting Wales for a short break or longer holiday. Most importantly, however, it could be hugely damaging to businesses who rely on tourism.
It would bizarrely create a situation in which local tourism boards are busting a gut to bring visitors in, while the national Welsh government is actively discouraging visitors by imposing taxes.
It would also lead to competition between counties, where local authorities choose to implement varying rates that could lead to a disparity in prices across the nation.
The proposal is ill-thought-out and likely to inflict significant damage. Post Covid and in the throes of a cost of living crisis, tourism – and tourists – need all the help they can get.
After the year we have had, Strictly could be just what we need. The show hits its 20th series with its launch on Friday and the first competition on Saturday. It harks back to old fashioned light entertainment – live music, dancing and plenty of sparkle.
It is also family viewing – ‘event TV’ that people tend to congregate for as the nights draw in. It’s as popular with grandparents as it is with mums and dads; it’s as well-liked by children as it is with aunts and uncles.
Amid this year’s hopefuls, a mention must go to West Midlands paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds. She has already proved herself to be an inspiration and now she is pushing the boundaries again. Good luck to her and all of the other contestants.
The countdown has begun. It’s time for lights, camera, action. Or, as the great Brucie used to say: Keep Dancing!