As summer 2013 draws to a close, the hospitality and tourism industry will no doubt take the opportunity to reflect on what, on many levels, has been a success. Endless days of sunshine, the birth of a new Royal baby and sporting successes at the Ashes and Wimbledon have no doubt contributed to national wellbeing as well as further raising the profile of the UK to an international audience.
For the British Hospitality Industry and those involved in the Cut Tourism VAT Campaign, summer 2013 will be seen as the time we started to build momentum for our cause. Together with the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, Bourne Leisure Group and Merlin Entertainments Group in addition to support from over 500 groups, associations, businesses, individual hotels, restaurants and attractions around the United Kingdom, the BHA is determined that the voice of our industry is heard and our issues taken seriously.
We’re all familiar with the facts: independent evidence shows that reducing tourism VAT would be one of the most efficient means of generating GDP gains at low cost to the Exchequer. As an industry we have the strongest case for a reduction and we are bringing this directly to the attention of the Prime Minister. Already it is showing an impact: in early August, the Prime Minister was asked about the case for reducing VAT during a public forum in Manchester. He replied that “There are always good cases for cutting VAT on individual items. The leisure industry and the hotel industry makes a very good argument, but as do lots of other industries… So people have to come up with a very good [argument] before it gets accepted.”
The challenge now is to make the Prime Minister, his colleagues and representatives of all parties aware of the clear evidence that cutting tourism VAT is in the national economic interest, to the benefit of British businesses and British families. Throughout the summer we have been engaging with regional media and communities to raise awareness of this issue. We are actively encouraging our campaign supporters to lobby the government: we need people across the UK to write to their local newspapers, engage with MPs and speak out within their communities.
Indeed, a survey commissioned by the Cut Tourism VAT Campaign to support our work found that more than two-thirds of British holidaymakers thought it unfair that UK families pay more than double the VAT for a domestic holiday compared to Germany and France.
It might not be the sexiest subject in the world but VAT is an important one. Cutting tourism VAT in the UK to 5% can benefit everyone, from the average Brit holidaying at home or keeping their children entertained in the school holidays; to local hotels, B&Bs and restaurants trying to survive; to local jobseekers looking for work.
The current VAT levels are making it hard for us to compete with cheap resorts abroad. As a result Britain's hospitality industry is suffering.
We have so much to offer and it's madness not to allow our hotels, resorts and attractions to compete on a level playing field with our European neighbours.