THE boss of Blackpool Airport has backed The Gazette’s Slash the Vat campaign.
Paul Rankin is the latest business leader to join the calls for a cut in VAT to help stimulate growth and jobs in the tourism trade that the Fylde coast relies heavily on.
Blackpool Airport director Paul Rankin said: “The tourism industry is obviously struggling to cope with the effects of the recession and industry opinion is that a reduction in tourism VAT could bring the UK in line with other countries where a reduction in tourism VAT has created more jobs, set off a cycle of growth and made the sector more competitive.
“The UK is at a competitive disadvantage and something does need to be done to increase inbound tourism and stimulate growth in the sector perhaps by a ‘staged’ approach and the first could be a reduction in tourism VAT on attractions and visitor accommodation.”
“The impact on revenue however would need to be carefully looked at as the boost to tourism may not necessarily outweigh this.”
Gareth Birch, solicitor in the commercial property team at Whitehills-based Napthens Solicitors, agreed and said: “I believe it is essential that rates are brought in line with our local EU rivals to further encourage people to holiday within the UK.
“Such cuts have been shown to have a positive impact on the tourism and leisure sectors in countries such as France and with all the recent investment into Blackpool this would hopefully provide us with a timely boost.”
Business organisations the Federation of Small Businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Forum for Private Business (FPB) have also all backed the campaign.
Britain has the second highest level of VAT on tourism in Europe, which industry leaders say puts the UK at a serious disadvantage to its neighbours.
While France and Germany enjoy rates as low as six per cent for certain tourism services, the UK’s is still at 20 per cent.
Robert Downes of the FPB said: “We want a level playing field on tax, and the UK’s tax system to be conducive to business growth and success rather than a hurdle that is a struggle to overcome.
“It is also time to see genuine tax incentives to boost employment and investment.
“In order to achieve this the tax system must be reviewed, and, as a medium, to long-term goal, completely overhauled.
“Targeted cuts in VAT to help labour-intensive industries such as those in tourism would be a real boost, and is something we are championing for our members.
“This week’s budget is a real opportunity to remove the growth barriers for small firms created by the complexity of the tax system.”