Wales’ holiday cottage industry could be facing decimation following Welsh government proposals to increase the number of days in which a holiday property must remain open.

This is the fear of Ashford Price, chairman of the National Show Caves who claims the new proposals will make operating a self-catering business untenable, particularly for smaller businesses based in rural areas which are far removed from holiday hotspots.

“At present, to be classed as a ‘business’, all self-catering operators have to be open for bookings for 140 days a year, and their properties must be let for 70 days a year,” he explained.

“But the Welsh government’s new proposals will change this number to 252 days, which means an 80 per cent increase.

"The property must then be let out for 182 days which is a whopping increase of 150 per cent.”

Research carried out by Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA) predicts that of the 8,000 self-catering properties currently operating in Wales, only 16 per cent believe they can continue to work through this threshold.

The Welsh holiday cottage industry currently generates approximately £134 million pound a year for the Welsh economy and sustains around 4,700 jobs.

Ironically, many farmers have been encouraged to diversify into tourism and self-catering after being offered grants by the Welsh government, but when these new proposals come into force, many operators will be forced to close.

Furthermore, the Welsh operators failing to meet the new proposals will no longer qualify for business rate relief.

“Some will try and sell their business, some will face bankruptcy, and even fewer new entrants will consider investing in Welsh tourism but will look elsewhere in Britain,” added Ashford Price.

“And the rural economy will be the hardest hit as many are not near tourism ‘hot spots’ and many farms will not be able to meet the new letting requirements.

“The Welsh government needs to decide if it wants a vibrant tourist industry in this nation.

"The Welsh Government need to rethink their proposals urgently before inflicting serious economic damage on one of Wales most significant success stories.”

English self-catering operators have to meet an occupancy threshold of 70 days.