UKinbound ‘encouraged’ by Spring Statement

UKinbound has welcomed the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, as it believes several policies will have a “positive effect” on the UK’s tourism industry.

It pointed to four announcements from Philip Hammond yesterday (March 13) – the building of new homes; improved transport links; better broadband; and a consultation about Air Passenger Duty and tourism VAT in Northern Ireland.

Deirdre Wells (pictured), UKinbound’s chief executive, said: “I am encouraged by [the] Spring Statement which included several policies that directly impact on the UK’s tourism industry.

“Affordable housing has been highlighted by a number of our members as a reason their EU employees are starting to return home so we are encouraged that the government is ‘getting on with the job’ of building more affordable homes, which should help encourage skilled EU workers, that our industry heavily relies on, to stay in the UK post-Brexit.

“It is also encouraging that a review has been confirmed into the impact of APD and VAT on tourism in Northern Ireland.

“Along with our tourism partners, we will be calling on all those in the industry to submit evidence they have that demonstrates its negative impact.”

UKHospitality – the new hospitality trade association – said the Spring Statement was “a missed opportunity to deliver meaningful tax reform”.

Kate Nicholls, UKH chief executive, said: “There are some tentative steps here to support the sector but this is a missed opportunity to provide the decisive and positive action on business rates that hospitality desperately needs, and for which we have been calling.

“Bringing forward the revaluation will not provide the immediate support that businesses need unless it is accompanied by widescale reform beforehand.

“A focus on taxing digital businesses is welcome but it needs to also tackle inequalities in business rates between digital companies and high street operators. If that is not addressed then businesses will continue to struggle against crippling rates bills, and jobs and investment will be at risk.

“Consulting on possible VAT reduction in Northern Ireland is a welcome first step in addressing the significant barrier to growth posed by tourism VAT. We will engage closely and continue to push for a UK-wide reduction in VAT for tourism and hospitality businesses.”

The British Retail Consortium said the Spring Statement painted a mixed picture.

Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “Despite the upward revision of forecasts announced by the Chancellor, the economic picture remains fairly bleak, with the OBR [Office for Budget Responsibility] expecting private consumption to make a lower contribution to growth this year.”

Click here for more about the government announcement of a consultation on VAT, APD and tourism in Northern Ireland.