South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has been elected Co-Chair of a new Parliamentary Group aiming for a cut in tourism VAT. The SDLP MP will co-chair the nine-member ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Visitor Economy alongside Nigel Huddleston MP (Conservative Mid Worcestershire) after being chosen by her peers and will work towards the ‘aim of enhancing local economies through promoting measures and incentives including a reduction on VAT on tourism which would increase visitor numbers in all parts of Britain and Northern Ireland. “We have a real opportunity to boost tourism and with the All-Party Parliamentary Group’ Cross Party support, I have renewed confidence that our voice can be heard across Parliament, in the Treasury and in wider government circles,” Ms Ritchie said. A British Hospitality Association statement highlighted that currently 25 of 27 EU countries have reduced tourism VAT and said that at 20 per cent, the UK’s current rate was almost twice the European average, which undermines competitiveness against countries with lower rates of VAT. The British Hospitality Association statement said that if the UK came into line with other EU countries, £3billion would be raised in taxes over the ten years and that the competitiveness of regions that rely heavily on tourism such as seaside and rural communities would be increased.
22nd July 2015