During English Tourism Week, the British public are calling for the Chancellor to make the British tourism industry more competitive. A recent survey of users of the leading parenting site Mumsnet showed 87% want to see the rate of VAT on British tourism reduced from 20% to 5% to make the UK more competitive, whilst a recent ComRes poll showed that over two-thirds (68%) of British adults want the same.
The results of both surveys show the public and especially British Mums, back the call to cut tourism VAT – which is being led by a coalition of hotels, self-catering, caravan sites, B&Bs and visitor attractions that are calling on the Government to boost the economy in the upcoming Budget by cutting VAT on tourism, as 25 of the 28 countries in the European Union already do.
Reducing VAT on tourism to 5% would not only make the UK more competitive with other destinations within Europe, but would also increase the affordability and attractiveness of regional tourism hotspots and generate more investment for local businesses.
Over 100 MPs from across the UK’s party spectrum are supporting Cut Tourism VAT, and urging the Chancellor to boost British jobs and the economy in Wednesday’s Budget.
The Mumsnet survey found that:
- 63%of mums said they support the Cut Tourism VAT campaign
- 51 % said they wanted their MP to back the campaign
- 41 % said they would be more likely to holiday in the UK after a VAT cut – a figure that would provide a huge ‘staycation’ boost for the British tourism sector
- 76 %said the public deserved to know more about the campaign
- 87 % said UK rates of VAT on accommodation and attractions should at least fall in line with European averages.
Whilst a ComRes survey of 2,000 British adults commissioned by Cut Tourism VAT also found that:
- 69% believe that it is unfair that British and foreign visitors in the UK have to pay 20% VAT on hotel accommodation when the average tax in the rest of the EU in 10.3%
- 67% believe that it is unfair that British and foreign visitors in the UK have to pay 20% VAT on tourist attractions when the average tax in the rest of the EU is 15.6%
- 66% believe that UK VAT rates on tourism should be the same as or lower than the average across other EU member states
Sir Roger Gale MP, a supporter of Cut Tourism VAT said: “There is a significant group of Conservative backbenchers who are actively supporting the campaign to cut tourism VAT. We know the Chancellor is listening and is very aware of the enormous benefits to whole UK economy that would come from a targeted boost to tourism.
“In the rest of the EU, tourism business are allowed to charge much lower rates of VAT giving them a massively unfair advantage over businesses in my constituency of North Thanet. We hope the Chancellor will be able to level the playing field for our Great British tourism businesses in the next Budget.”
Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet, said: “By and large, Mumsnet users are big fans of UK holidays and short breaks. But when you’re splashing out on a once-a-year holiday for your kids, it’s all about getting the biggest bang for your buck - and hefty VAT rates can affect families’ decisions about where to take their vacation. Our survey results show that lots of Mumsnet users would like to see a more level playing field.”
Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the British Hospitality Association said: "Travelling abroad with children can test the patience of even the most tolerant parent which is why the staycation, holidaying in the UK, has become a popular mainstay for many British families. And while the UK has some of the world's best natural, historical and cultural destinations, coupled with some of the best attractions and places to stay, families get an unfair detail when holidaying at home because UK VAT rates on Tourism are much higher than in nearly every other country in Europe. We loudly applaud Mumsnetters for getting behind this issue and we’ll be sharing the results of this survey with government."
Graham Wason, Chairman of Cut Tourism VAT, said: “International competition for tourism is increasing while the UK’s share of the global tourism market is declining. Cutting VAT on tourism would bring profound benefits across the UK, and we urge the Chancellor to take action to create thousands of jobs and boost the national and local economies.”
CASE STUDY: SUNDERLAND
Julie Roe, 39, lives in Cleadon Village, Sunderland, with her five year old twins Madeleine and Dylan. Julie, a Marketing Consultant, is currently a stay-at-home Mum.
The twins started school in September 2012 and the family haven’t been on holiday since 2013. Julie prefers to holiday in the UK because it’s easier than travelling abroad; she can pack the twins and all their clothes and toys into the car and drive to their destination, whereas flying would be a lot more difficult – and stressful.
The family planned to holiday in Butlins Skegness in late August with Julie’s parents, Pat and Dave, and her sister Wendy and her three children. It’s easily accessible for them and there’s lots to keep the kids occupied. Julie had originally planned to go for ten days. However, when she started doing the sums she came to realise that the figures just didn’t stack up. An online search revealed that it would actually be cheaper for her and the twins to go on holiday to Spain or France for two weeks than holiday in the UK for 10 days.
Julie says: “When I started to tot up the cost of flights, hotels, food and entertainment for a holiday in Spain I realised it would actually be cheaper than holidaying in the UK. I’ve recently become aware of the 20% tourism VAT in the UK and suspect that could be what makes it so expensive to holiday at home. At the age the twins are, it’s much easier for us to go on holiday in the UK at the moment, even though we have to sacrifice a few days. But when they’re older I think we’ll have to holiday in Europe because ultimately it’s cheaper. It seems like madness to me. The UK tourism VAT is making it more and more expensive for families like us to holiday at home. It’s time people took notice.”