MPs and other high-profile campaigners are joining forces to push for a lower rate of tourism VAT in the UK in a bid to strengthen its presence in the trade.
The campaign, called the CUT Tourism VAT campaign, aims to bring the rate of VAT on accommodation and attractions in the UK from 20% to just 5%. It is thought the move may help to encourage people to take more holidays in the UK, as well as drawing more people from overseas to visit and take trips.
The reduced cost of holidaying the UK would also be likely to place Britain on a more equal footing with other high-tourism countries in Europe, many of which have already decreased their VAT rates on tourism.
Chairman of the campaign Graham Wason said:[quote]”This campaign is about more than just tourism. It’s about the people, communities and jobs driven by it right across the country.”[/quote]
He added that ministers ought to “take a long term view”, and said that cutting VAT would “offer a vital lift” to many areas that have “been forgotten for too long”.
The UK is one of the just four European countries yet to cut its rate of VAT on tourist-related services. France and Spain charge just 10% VAT on hotels and holiday parks, whilst Germany charges less at 7%.
Countries like Portugal, Holland and Belgium currently levy just a 6% VAT rate on all their hotels, holiday camps and tourist attractions. Travel Weekly has calculated that a one week family holiday in south-west France in a mobile home would cost nearly £150 less than the same holiday in Britain’s Bognor Regis.
The CUT Tourism VAT campaign has become so influential that besides involving around 60 cross-party MPs, it has also received backing from the likes of The Sun, the British Hospitality Association, and some major international brands. It has been newly termed within the media as the ‘Give Us a Break’ campaign.
Dozens of small B&Bs, family-run attractions and zoos have also risen to support the cause.
Nick Varney, chief executive of theme park operator Merlin Entertainments, said:[quote]”We have a fantastic tourism product in this country, with the most beautiful countryside, beaches, landscapes and premier league attractions.
“There are also some superb hotels and brilliant B&Bs out there. We should try and give them a break and do something good for the economy.”[/quote]
The Sun newspaper has begun a petition among its readers to show the government just how much impact a VAT cut on tourism would have.