Bosses of 20 UK airports join Victoria Beckham and 130 businesses as they demand the government scrap its hated VAT ‘tourist tax’
- The bosses of 20 airports from Edinburgh to Exeter have called for a rethink
- They argue the tax is driving tourists away from the UK to European destinations
The bosses of 20 UK airports have joined the Mail’s campaign to scrap the hated ‘tourist tax’.
Airport chiefs from all four UK nations today signed a letter to the Chancellor demanding he brings back tax-free shopping for tourists.
Some 150 leading figures from across the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors have now signed the missive to Jeremy Hunt calling for a rethink.
They argue that the tax is driving tourists away from the UK to other European destinations – leading them to spend their money on hotels, transport and entertainment elsewhere.
The letter, organised by hotelier Sir Rocco Forte, brands the decision in 2021 to scrap the longstanding tax-free shopping scheme as ‘puzzling’ and ‘ill-timed’.
Airport chiefs from all four UK nations today signed a letter to the Chancellor demanding he brings back tax-free shopping for tourists
The signatories say that reinstating tax-free shopping would benefit both business and the taxpayer.
Research suggests there would be a net gain of around £350million a year if the Government performs a U-turn, despite Treasury claims that it would cost £2billion a year.
Campaigners – including MPs from across the political spectrum – say the extra tourists would spend in all areas of the economy, generating separate tax revenues and creating jobs.
Today the bosses of 20 airports – from Edinburgh to Exeter – add their names to the growing clamour of calls for a rethink.
The latest signatories include Gatwick’s chief executive Stewart Wingate, Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye and Graham Keddie, the managing director of Belfast International.
Andrew Bell, the chief executive of Regional and City Airports – including Exeter, Norwich and Bournemouth Airports – and Charlie Cornish of the Manchester Airports Group also backed the fight. They are joined by bosses of Cardiff, City of Derry, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, London Luton and Stansted.
Today the bosses of 20 airports – from Edinburgh to Exeter – add their names to the growing clamour of calls for a rethink
READ MORE: The hated tourist tax has left London on life support and Britain lagging behind European rivals, says M&S boss
Andy Cliffe, chief executive of AGS Airports – which includes Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports – also signed the letter, along with Karen Dee – the chief executive of the Airport Operators Association.
Heathrow’s Mr Holland-Kaye last week called on the Government to make the UK more attractive for overseas visitors after the airport revealed it is still loss-making.
He said: ‘We are building our route network to connect all of Britain to the growing markets of the world – now we need the Government to lure international visitors back to the UK by scrapping the tourist tax.’
Meanwhile, data emerged suggesting vacant sites on one of London’s finest shopping streets are rising.
Figures from the Local Data Company showed New Bond Street vacancies hit 15.4 per cent in April – though refurbishment and redevelopment may have bumped up the number.
Paul Barnes, chief executive of the Association of International Retail, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘It is very expensive to have a store in Bond Street… and if suddenly you’re not getting international visitors and you’re relying on domestic ones, you can’t make the model work.’
The Government insists implementing a wide-ranging tax-free shopping scheme would come at ‘significant cost’, and notes that tax-free shopping ‘continues to be available for all non-UK visitors who purchase items in store and have them sent directly to their overseas address’.
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