Chris Baron, resort director at Butlin’s Skegness, believes that reducing tourism VAT would be the most effective way to help all of the UK’s coastal communities.
The resort director of Butlin’s Skegness has made the case for a reduction in tourism VAT being the best way to tackle the challenges facing seaside resorts.
Chris Baron, who has worked for the holiday park operator for 26 years, said that cutting tax on accommodation and attractions would boost investment and entrepreneurship at businesses based on the coast.
He also claimed the measure would be a winwin for whoever forms the next government, by increasing jobs, tourism and tax revenue.
Baron explained: “Skegness used to be a jewel in the British crown but now is one of the most deprived parts of Britain.
“We have a real issue with demographics, with a third of residents over the age of 60 and this is exacerbated by a loss of talented young people, who leave the town to look for career opportunities elsewhere.
“To assist coastal communities, we need to help residents who live in these areas to help themselves.
“The most effective way of doing this is to reduce barriers to growth and entrepreneurship, creating the conditions for investment and vibrancy in the private sector.”
Responsible for at least 22 per cent of employment in Skegness, Baron said the visitor economy was the cornerstone of its local economy, and needed to be fostered to secure the resort’s long-term future.
Although a welcome step, he argued that government funding initiatives like the Coastal Communities Fund did not provide sustainable funding for local areas due to their sporadic nature and allocation on a project by project basis. Baron said the cut in tourism VAT was a nationwide approach that would boost all coastal and rural areas that are reliant on their visitor economy.
He commented: “Higher taxes limit our country’s ability to compete in the highly price-sensitive international market for tourism.
“Creating a level playing field compared to our rivals will encourage price competition in the sector, making it cheaper to holiday in the UK.
“This in turn will make domestic tourism more attractive and lead to more international tourists visiting the country, benefitting the economy as a whole and improving the UK’s balance of trade in services.”
Baron cited studies for the Cut Tourism VAT campaign – of which Butlin’s owner Bourne Leisure is a co-leader – found the measure would be revenue positive for HM Treasury. They also forecast that it would create an additional 121,000 jobs over ten years, a broader VAT base, stronger investment and higher growth, offsetting an initial loss to The Treasury.
“In short, a reduction in VAT on accommodation and attractions to five per cent will boost tax returns, support the wider UK economy, foster domestic tourism by making it fairer and cheaper for British consumers to holiday in the UK, and provide hospitality and tourism businesses with much needed financial assistance,” Baron concluded.