TOURISM leaders have demanded a cut in VAT across the board – after the Government gave Scottish ski lift operators a five per cent rate to compete with European resorts.
Chancellor George Osborne’s budget included a reduction in VAT for the lift operators – to five per cent – to put them at the same rate as their overseas counterparts.
And bosses say that proves the argument The Gazette’s Slash the VAT campaign is making for a VAT rate for tourism equivalent to European rates.
In England, the VAT rate is 20 per cent, yet Holland and France have rates of six and seven per cent.
Pleasure Beach secretary David Cam said: “Well, fancy that. The cableways in Scotland have been singled out for special treatment by the Government and are now subject to five per cent VAT to help them compete.
“We’ve been inspired by the fact the Chancellor has done this because, as we keep telling them, we are not competitive with Europe.
“We’re not begging the Government any more – we’re demanding a reduction.”
The Budget reduced VAT on lift tickets at ski resorts across Scotland from 20 per cent to five, a move which will come into effect in 2013.
Ski lift operators will then decide whether or not to drop prices, or keep them the same and re-invest the extra money into facilities to attract more thrill-seekers.
The new rate means VAT on ski lift tickets is lower than France, where it is seven per cent.
Iain Hawkins, head of Merlin Entertainments’ Blackpool cluster of attractions, including The Tower, Dungeon, Sea Life Centre and Madame Tussauds, also highlighted the move on ski lifts.
He said: “We are all, in the industry, on the same page supporting everything The Gazette has printed.
“It is tough in the Scottish areas where they’ve had the break but it just shows they could do the same for us – they need to look at the risks for us.
“People are paying one of the highest rates in the world and that makes it tough for the industry.
“If you look at our price boards, we always show tax as part of the price because we don’t believe people should have to pay it on leisure activities.”
The Gazette’s campaign has been backed by hoteliers and attraction owners across the Fylde, who believe a cut would increase Treasury coffers by attracting more tourists, generating more jobs, and reducing benefit payouts.
For more details, and to sign the e-petition calling on the Government to reduce VAT on tourism, visit: www2.blackpooltoday.co.uk/Slash-the-VAT/Slash-the-VAT.html.