Merlin boss attacks government tourism strategy

Merlin Entertainments chief executive Nick Varney has criticised the government’s policies on tourism.

He has again attacked the VAT rate on tourist attractions, arguing that a reduction to levels seen elsewhere in the EU would create 80,000 jobs in the UK.

Writing in the London Evening Standard, Varney said: “I don’t think this government is taking tourism any more seriously than the previous government did.”

He also said that it is currently too difficult and expensive for Chinese tourists to obtain visas to visit Britain, stating the UK visa policy was “a joke.”

“Millions of high-spending Chinese want to visit us, but they have an option: £52 for a Schengen visa giving access to 26 other EU countries, or £80 for a UK one only,” he added.

Visitor numbers to tourist attractions in London fell by about a fifth during the summer, in which many people were put off by wet weather and perceived crowding due to the Olympic Games.