Northern Ireland tourism VAT consultation targets UK-wide cut

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Last month the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, visited Belfast to discuss the current consultation on VAT and APD with Northern Irish business leaders before the deadline closed on 5 June.

In the meeting, Stride urged the tourism industry in Northern Ireland to contribute their views to the consultation into the rate of VAT and APD levied to ensure that their voices were heard.

Meanwhile, the Cut Tourism VAT campaign continues to lobby for a reduced tourism VAT rate across the whole of the UK, with chairman and Butlins managing director Dermot King laying out his intention to contribute to the consultation on 30 May.

“The campaign will be submitting evidence to the consultation, laying out the exhaustive research that has been conducted for a number of years that shows the clear benefits of a reduction. We urge all hospitality businesses to contact their local MP to detail the benefits of a reduction,” he wrote in the Caterer. “Independent research demonstrates that a reduction in VAT on tourism in Northern Ireland would give a substantial boost to its economy, creating around 8,500 jobs and increasing visitor numbers by up to 16 percent. Significantly for the campaign, the demonstrable benefits of a reduction in Northern Ireland would strengthen our argument for a cut in tourism VAT across the rest of the UK.”

King added that the industry needs more support from government in growing the economy, especially in seaside resorts – echoing the recent Select Committee in the House of Lords.

“This is particularly prescient in our coastal communities, which have witnessed declining visitor numbers and stagnating economic growth due, in large part, to a lack of price competitiveness with rival destinations on the continent. A cut to VAT in tourism in these areas would be one step on the path to regenerating these areas,” he continued. “The campaign is focussing initially on a reduction to 5 percent on visitor accommodation and attractions, with a view to extending the reduction to restaurants and bars once the benefits cut have been clearly demonstrated. France, Belgium and Finland have all successfully followed this path and we believe replicating this is our best chance of success.”

King concluded by stating that the campaign to Cut Tourism VAT has the backing of over 150 MPs and rising from across all political parties, leading select committees, three national newspapers and 46,000 businesses nationwide.

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