New All-Party Parliamentary Group On The Visitor Economy Established

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The British Hospitality Association (BHA) today announced the establishment of a new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Visitor Economy. The APPG’s purpose is to enhance local economies through promoting measures and incentives, including a reduction of VAT on tourism, which would increase visitor numbers and investment in all parts of Britain and Northern Ireland.

Currently 25 of 27 EU countries have reduced tourism VAT. The UK’s current rate of 20% is almost twice the European average which undermines competitiveness against countries with lower rates of VAT. If the UK comes into line with other EU countries, this will deliver a number of benefits to consumers, the Exchequer and the economy:

  • Over time, more tax will be raised by the Exchequer £3.9 billion over
  • 10 years.
  • Improve the UK trade balance by £20 billion over 10 years.
  • Create 123,000 new jobs.
  • Increase the competitiveness of regions that rely heavily on tourism, such as seaside and rural communities.
  • Fairer and cheaper for consumers holidaying in the UK.
  • Help low earners who are disproportionately affected by VAT.

The APPG on the Visitor Economy members:

Co-Chairs

  • Margaret Ritchie MP (SDLP)
  • Nigel Huddleston MP (Conservative)

Vice-Chairs

  • Albert Owen MP (Labour)
  • Dr Philippa Whitford MP (SNP)
  • Mark Williams MP (Liberal Democrat)
  • Caroline Lucas MP (Green)
  • Sammy Wilson MP (DUP)
  • Danny Kinahan MP (UUP)
  • Hywel Williams MP (Plaid Cymru)

The BHA was appointed as Secretariat to the APPG and will work with MPs to devise the group’s programme during summer. The BHA will be working closely with the APPG to host a Hospitality and Tourism Lobby Day on 16 September 2015 where BHA members and other business leaders will visit Parliament to make their voices heard on key issues affecting the industry.

Margaret Ritchie MP, said: “The tourism industry is central to many sectors of the economy in Britain and Northern Ireland - in fact in some it can be the catalyst for economic growth and job creation. It provides enormous potential for growth and productivity.

“The APPG will focus on how we can enhance the UK's local economy by discussing measures and incentives such as a reduction in tourism VAT.  We have a real opportunity to boost tourism, and with the APPG's Cross Party support, I have renewed confidence that our voice can be heard across Parliament, in the Treasury and in wider Government circles.”

Nigel Huddleston MP, said: “The tourism industry is a crucial part of the UK economy and there is still much we can do to support it efficiently and effectively.

“We want to challenge the current perception of tourism in the UK by emphasising the many benefits that it provides to our economy.  Whilst we recognise and celebrate the success of London’s booming tourism industry, we aim to raise the profile of other tourist destinations across the UK, such as Mid Worcestershire.”

Dermot King, chairman of The Cut Tourism VAT Campaign and MD of Butlins, said: “The formation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Visitor Economy is a further signal that momentum is building for a common-sense cut to tourism VAT for the benefit of all society. Our European counterparts have had the competitive advantage for far too long in attracting visitors that drive economic recovery. I invite politicians from across the political spectrum to speak to our campaign and learn about the case for boosting the UK economy through tourism.”

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of The British Hospitality Association, said: “It is imperative that politicians mobilise to sustain pressure on both Parliament and Whitehall to deliver further economic success for the UK through the powerful potential of hospitality and tourism. There is a terrific opportunity to hold the Prime Minister to account on his recently announced plan to support our industry with a vision that creates more growth, jobs and security for working people. The private sector is ready to rise to this challenge and looks forward to working with politicians to make it a reality.”

Caroline Lucas MP, said: “Cutting VAT on tourism would make a real difference to local businesses and help create jobs for people in Brighton and Hove, especially for young people.  It would also make a day out for local families for more affordable, and provide another reason for people to take their holidays in the UK.

“With the VAT rate on Tourism in Britain at almost double the EU average we risk losing out on the benefits of tourism. I’m very proud to be a member of the APPG on the Visitor Economy – and I hope we are effective in creating more decent jobs in Brighton’s economy by convincing the Government to cut VAT on tourism.”

Mark Williams MP, said: "The creation of the new All Party Group adds further momentum to our campaign to reduce VAT on visitor attractions and visitor accommodation, a provision available under EU law, but something successive UK governments have failed to enact here. We are one of only three EU countries which refuse to reduce VAT on this pivotal sector.  The new All Party Group, with members from all political parties across Westminster, will continue to press the Government on this issue."

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