Heavyweights press for tourism VAT cut to help Fylde Coast

MP Gordon Marsden and Elma John, manager from Marton Mere Holiday Village,
MP Gordon Marsden and Elma John, manager from Marton Mere Holiday Village,
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Pressure is mounting for a tourism tax break which could boost jobs on the Fylde Coast.

A VAT cut for the UK’s tourism economy would lead to a £4bn tax windfall for the Treasury, according to new research being handed to the Government today.

The Nevin Report, commissioned by the Cut Tourism VAT Campaign, says that a cut from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for accommodation and attractions would massively boost the UK’s tourism economy and cost the exchequer nothing after five years.

It said this would come alongside a boost to Gross Domestic Product each year that would peak at £4bn a year, and create 120,000 jobs around the UK.

The campaign said political backing had rocketed, with more than 70 politicians 
signalling their support, 
including Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden.

And the man in charge of some of the biggest attractions in Blackpool, Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin 
Entertainment, threw his weight behind the move.

He said: “Doing a few fancy posters saying ‘Heritage is Great’ and putting them up at Shanghai Airport is not going to turn around 30 years of constant decline. If all UK holidays became 15 per cent cheaper, economics tells you what’s 
going to happen.”

He added that thousands of tourism businesses and a backbench rebellion of more than 60 MPs were currently ratcheting up the pressure on the government. The UK was one of the most expensive holiday destinations in the world, ranked 138th out of 140 for price competitiveness by the Travel and Tourism Index, and one of just four European countries not to have cut VAT.

Gordon Marsden recently visited Marton Mere Village to talk to manager Elma John and national representatives from its parent company, Bourne Leisure, about VAT, among other issues.

He said: “The Government needs to do far more to boost new tourism initiatives and a big start would be for the Treasury to stop stonewalling on the evidence that reducing VAT in the tourism sector could create more local jobs and increase growth in Blackpool’s visitor economy.

“I discussed, with Elma and her colleagues, ways to keep that message strong and I will be questioning ministers in Parliament to look properly at the strong existing research on cutting VAT. An industry which supports 2.5 million jobs nationally and is crucial for us in Blackpool needs a better deal on VAT from this Government.”

Dermot King, of Bourne Leisure, said the strength of the pound against the Euro was another issue. He said: “Outside the London bubble, UK tourism must compete with not just one but two arms tied behind its back.”