South Warwickshire tourism bosses call for VAT-free shopping u-turn - The Leamington Observer

South Warwickshire tourism bosses call for VAT-free shopping u-turn

TOURISM leaders in south Warwickshire are calling for a u-turn on the existing ban on VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors.

Shakespeare’s England, south Warwickshire’s tourism body, is urging the government to capitalise on the region’s strong recovery from the pandemic and lift the current ban on VAT-free shopping for tourists from abroad.

Ahead of the Budget in March, chancellor Jeremy Hunt has written to the Office for Budget Responsibility to review bringing back VAT-free shopping for international visitors after it was scrapped in 2021.

The chancellor’s move was made following industry-wide condemnation that the policy is putting many British tourism businesses at a disadvantage to other EU countries, who currently offer VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors.

It comes as a recent tourism impact assessment, conducted on behalf of Shakespeare’s England by The Research Solution, found that there was a 317 per cent rise in overnight stays (192,000), and a 373 per cent rise in spending (£90million) by overseas visitors in 2022 versus the previous year.

Darren Tosh, operations and marketing director at Shakespeare’s England, said: “The reintroduction of VAT-free shopping has the potential to act as a catalyst for growth for our tourism businesses – and would be a real shot in the arm for the sector across our region ahead of the peak summer trading season.

“As a tourism body we have already been putting south Warwickshire on the world stage at key tourism shows in India and China, and we know first-hand how important the shopping experience is alongside sampling the rich culture and heritage we have to offer – so VAT-free shopping has potential to unlock further growth.

“The region’s tourism scene is bouncing back strongly from the pandemic, as shown by the data, so there never has been a better time to be introducing measures that would encourage even more international visitors – particularly to some of our key shopping destinations such as Bell Court in Stratford, the chic boutiques of regal Leamington and independent shops in medieval Warwick.”


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