Merlin boss repeats call for VAT cut

Merlin Entertainments chief executive Nick Varney has again called on the British government to lower the value added tax (VAT) rate on visitor attractions and hotel rooms.

He claims that around 80,000 jobs could be created if the rate were reduced to 5% from its current level of 20%.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Varney said: “If we cut VAT to 5% on hotel rooms and visitor attractions, we could create 80,000 jobs, predominantly among 16-24 year olds of which one in five is currently out of work.”

He was reportedly told by the government that such a cut would cost £1 billion and that they were not receptive to the idea.

Free museums

In the interview, he called for free admission to museums to be scrapped to help pay for the proposed VAT cut – claiming that it costs £600 million.

Varney said that it was primarily taken advantage of by “foreign tourists and middle class people who can afford it. If they want social inclusion they can keep free entry for everyone on tax credits.”

In support of his proposal, which would reportedly pay for itself within three years, he added: “When the Government is being urged to do something that is innovative and get the economy moving, there’s only one industry that can do it quickly and that’s tourism.”