Tourist industry launches VAT cut campaign

A group of around 400 businesses, including Merlin Entertainments, is calling on the UK government to cut tax on visitor attractions and hotel rooms.

The Campaign for Reduced Tourism VAT is calling on the UK government to reduce value added tax from 20% to 5%, a move which it says would boost employment.

Merlin chief executive Nick Varney has long been a vocal critique of the current levels of VAT, claiming that the UK is uncompetitive against European countries where rates are lower.

Until now, his motivation has widely been dismissed as self-benefiting, particularly following statement that free museum entry is damaging to the tourist industry.

But the new campaign, which was presented to parliament yesterday, is now headed by the British Hospitality Association as well as several hundred businesses.

‘Triple whammy benefit’

Graham Wason, chairman of the Cut Tourism VAT campaign said: “The Treasury recently invited us to use its own financial model to evaluate the impact of VAT on the UK economy. The results are exciting and compelling.

“A VAT cut on visitor accommodation and attractions would have a triple whammy benefit. It would not cost the Government anything, would drive £4 billion of new revenue into the UK and create 80,000 jobs. This cut in VAT would benefit families and businesses all over the country.

“We launched our Parliamentary campaign at the House of Commons this week. Our next steps are to show every MP the value of reduced tourism VAT to jobs and the economy in their constituency and convince them to persuade the Chancellor to bring in this measure during the life of this government.”