What might Scotland do

By | Category: Travel rumblings

ScotlandA few weeks ago in the House of Commons there was a debate on stimulating the tourism industry by cutting VAT. As we reported at the time, the government was having none of it. But would an independent Scotland go that route as well or would the government there opt for lower VAT? And what effect would that have on English accommodation providers and attractions which abut Scotland?

As Scottish Tourism Week kicks off MPs and trade associations including the Scottish Tourism Alliance, the British Hospitality Association (BHA), and several others have all expressed the view that Scotland should cut the rate of VAT on accommodation and visitor attractions from 20% to 5%.

Mike Weir MP, of the SNP said: “At present VAT is controlled from Westminster which has steadfastly refused to implement a cut, despite the fact that VAT on tourist related business is lower in most other EU nations. With Independence, we would have the powers to set VAT rates to benefit our tourist businesses and to focus on a boost for our rural economy.” His comment is echoed by Marc Crothall, CEO, of The Scottish Tourism Alliance who urged ministers of all parties both in the UK and Scottish Parliaments to acknowledge the proven benefits that a Cut in Tourism Vat can bring and act now.  Scottish tourism businesses should be able to benefit from a reduced rate of VAT, just as 24 out of 28 EU countries already do. He will also advocate that each in turn rallies support from their local MSP.

There is now a move to drum up interest amongst the trade. The Cut Tourism VAT Campaign is supported by 45 national/regional associations, 35 major tourism and hotel groups and 3,500 establishments employing over 100,000 people.

Ufi Ibrahim from the BHA said that the consequence of Ireland’s VAT cut was an increase in overseas tourist numbers and revenue which helped to create up to 25,000 new jobs. :A tourism VAT cut has been implemented with great success in Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Sweden; how is it that Westminster has not spotted it’s a good idea?

But will it really help us, the visitor and traveller, the person that decides where we will go and what we will do. Would we be more likely to travel more in the UK if a hotel bill was reduced by the difference in VAT from say 20% to 5%? On a £80 hotel charge that would be about £12. On a £15 attraction fee, it would be £2.25.

Those in the tourism industry are hoping we would.

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