Shakespeare's England boss says more government support needed for tourism industry - The Leamington Observer

Shakespeare's England boss says more government support needed for tourism industry

Leamington Editorial 27th Sep, 2020   0

TOURISM chiefs in Warwickshire say government measures to support the economy do not address issues facing the tourism and hospitality industry.

Following government’s announcement about the jobs support scheme and scrapping the VAT rate increase, Shakespeare’s England boss Helen Peters said more needed to be done to support the recovery of businesses relying on tourism.

She said: “The past few months have been an extremely desperate time for the hospitality and tourism sectors.

“Some Shakespeare’s England members have been able to start trading again welcoming visitors back, though with seriously reduced capacity, but for others the pandemic continues to be a time filled with uncertainty.

“These measures of the new job support scheme and cancelling the planned increase in VAT are welcomed but even with the government help many businesses will struggle to pay staff, where their revenues have been so drastically diminished and little likelihood of these increasing until well into 2021.”

She said the tourism industry had long been urging the government for a VAT reduction and it needed to be looked at in conjunction with the threat to remove the UK as a tax free shopping destination from next year.

She added: “Every country in Europe and most major tourist destinations worldwide, offer tax free shopping as we know it is a major incentive for international travel. Britain would become the only country in Europe not to offer tax free shopping, putting the UK at a major competitive disadvantage, just at the time that we will be needing to do everything possible to welcome back international visitors.

“In 2018 international tourists spent £22billion, VAT was only reclaimed on £2.5billion of this, the remaining £22billion accrued VAT for the treasury to the tune of £4billion.

“With the UK being less attractive to international visitors, there will be an inevitable fall in visitor numbers, and a reduction in spending in all other areas of the visitor economy, hotels, travel, restaurants, theatres, culture and heritage sites and attractions, which will further damage these businesses as well as reducing HMRC VAT income. The chancellor seems to be giving with one hand and taking with the other.”

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