Hundreds of new jobs could be created in and around Blackpool if the government created a level playing field with the rest of Europe by cutting VAT on tourism.
That’s the message from the hospitality and tourism industry which is calling on the Blackpool business community, residents and visitors to back a campaign to cut tourism VAT from 20 per cent to five per cent.
A new survey from the Cut Tourism VAT campaign shows that British holidaymakers are unaware that Britain is one of only four countries in the EU to charge VAT on tourism at the full 20 per cent.
Over two-thirds of respondents thought it unfair that UK families pay more than double the VAT as Germany and France for a domestic holiday.
What this means is that in Blackpool’s twin town of Bottrop, Germany tourists only have to pay seven per cent VAT for holiday accommodation, whilst a British family would have to pay 20 per cent VAT for a UK break – costing almost three times as much.
The Gazette launched its ‘Slash the VAT’ campaign in March 2012 to call for a reduction in VAT on accommodation and ticket prices to bring them in line with rates across Europe.
In France and Germany VAT is seven per cent, and in Spain and Italy it is 10 per cent.
Paul Maynard, Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys said: “I have been a big supporter of this campaign and have made my points very clear to successive ministers.
“I believe cutting VAT will increase levels of incoming tourism, making the United Kingdom much more attractive to visit.
“Incoming tourism is new money into the economy of this country and should be encouraged where possible.”
David Cam, company secretary and director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, said: “Tourism is one of the most important industries in the country, a fact acknowledged by successive Prime Ministers.
“However, the Treasury appear blind to the extraordinary opportunities which a reduced level of VAT on tourism products bring to the British economy.
“Not only would the Staycation concept develop rapidly but there are millions of foreign tourists who percieve the UK is extremely expensive and would be encouraged to visit here should VAT see a reduction.”
The UK is also one of only 14 EU countries that apply the full rate of VAT on admissions to amusement parks and one of only nine countries that applies the full rate on admissions to cultural attractions.
Thirteen countries have a reduced VAT rate for restaurant meals.
Blackpool employs almost 11,000 people in the hospitality industry.