Half Term Dreaming

As the first half term of the 2015 is upon us, and the hard working hospitality entrepeneuers on the Lincolnshire coast get ready for the season to start (caravan parks opening in just three weeks, incidentally does any other business of this importance to the national economy get told when it can open and when they must close, and not be allowed to trade over Christmas??) and Election time looms large, I have had my first exposure to figures being banded around, which made me reflect and seek to share.

By May I will no doubt really need a holiday, to clear my head of the fog of figures that will be used to encourage us to vote one way or the other!

On the Lincolnshire coast including the gem of Skegness! (I always like to get it into a post...) the campaign to have VAT reduced on tourist attractions was heavily pushed, and supported by many national operators such as Butlins, but more widely by Hilton/Merlin/Tourism South East/Scottish Tourism Alliance etc, as well as SME operators.

This claimed that by reducing VAT on such it could give the UK a boost on GDP of £4bn p.a.; create 120,000 jobs; and deliver £3.9bn to The Treasury.

Now these figures are the campaign's figures, so I just am recycling them.

Interestingly, of the 28 EU Member States only three including the UK do not take advantage of reduced rates for the sector, which is curious given its importance as a sector.

The recent December announcement by the Chancellor to thus not feel able to support the campaign on reducing VAT, has been met with interest by the coastal area, as was the intention to abolish Air Passenger Duty in May 2015 for children, seemingly assisting overseas trade over domestic providers.

As the new paint dries on the Skegness seafront and as operators get ready to go again, I have yet to find one who does not see this central government action as one that will only encourage overseas travel and damage the competitiveness of the British offering.

I have looked for support on how much this reduction for overseas travel will add to the UK's GDP; or the number of new jobs it will create; or indeed how much the Treasury will gain, but not found such yet.

But from the perspective of a seaside resort where the economy is driven by leisure jobs, its seems a puzzling way to support a sector that only last year started to feel economic recovery after several hard years, by Government making it cheaper for its competition to access its target customers.

Perhaps many who are in favour of such, know that after May they will have much more spare time on their hands and will genuinely be looking to spend more time with their families and children, perhaps on a nice overseas holiday, or is that just too cynical ?

I welcome thoughts on whether others think reducing UK VAT to 5% is a good or bad thing for UK attractions and the bigger economic picture.
Parents
No Data
Reply
  • I guess others would say that APD has been rising steadily over recent years so domestic tourism has been relatively favoured during this period.  I doubt it is a zero sum game however.  The GDP and Tax take figures you quote I suspect also rely on that!  One thing is for sure - if the Treasury believed them - I'm sure it would take that route like a shot.
Children
No Data