Somerset tourism chiefs are lobbying MPs in a bid to reduce the rate of VAT levied on accommodation and attraction entry tickets which could help businesses in the Burnham-On-Sea area.
The campaign by Visit Somerset comes on the back of Brexit and comments by a government minister.
MP John Whittingdale said: “If we wanted, for example, to abolish VAT on accommodation or attractions, we could now do so. We couldn’t have done when we were in the European Union.”
John Turner, chief executive of Visit Somerset, the official Destination Management Organisation for the county, said: “If Somerset is going to gain real competitive advantage we cannot just rely on the weak pound but need to be looking at other opportunities to create even greater demand for our tourism services.”
“Now that the government is facing further austerity or mirroring the Bank of England’s emergency plans to boost the economy, perhaps a VAT cut would be welcome in one of the few remaining industry’s that is still enjoying growth nationally andnews regionally. Further action needs to be taken to not tax more but incentivise more tourists to our country and for those already here to spend more time in the UK and especially Somerset.”
“We have an unrivalled marketing communications portfolio now but nothing beats price point and a VAT cut could really help make Somerset hugely more competitive.”
Antony Brunt, a Director of Visit Somerset and hotel owner, said: “In the UK, our small independent hotels of perhaps 10 to 50 bedrooms which for decades have been the mainstay of English tourism are in danger of severe decline because they are having to compete with smaller guest houses and B&B’s which due to their size are exempt from business rates and are below the VAT registration threshold in effect giving a 20% price differential.”
“I have promoted holidays to England at various European travel shows over the last five years including shows in Brussels, Stuttgart, Utrecht and Copenhagen. There is an overwhelming desire by Europeans to visit the UK but it is the level of our tax (VAT) which is often cited as the reason why they have not done so in recent years.”
“In this post Brexit world we need to be competitive and secure this valuable trade for the UK. I have no doubt that a reduction in VAT to 5% on serviced accommodation would significantly increase the volume of overseas visitors coming to England whilst also encouraging many English holidaymakers to stay and holiday in England. A win – win situation for everyone.”