Budget 2018: Mixed fortunes for tourism and hospitality

UKinbound “cautiously welcomed” parts of yesterday’s budget, while UKHospitality praised support for hospitality businesses and called for continued dialogue with the government.

Inbound trade body UKinbound said some of the new policies and initiatives outlined in the chancellor’s 2018 budget were positive but it urged the government to re-consider its decision not to change VAT or Air Passenger Duty regimes, particularly in Northern Ireland.

New policies that will have a positive effect on the UK’s tourism industry include the opening of e-passport gates to citizens from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan; funding to help restore historic high streets and for Coventry to help it prepare for hosting the UK City of Culture in 2021; full fibre broadband for rural areas; and money to improve connectivity and transport links in cities.

UKinbound chairman Mark McVay said: “We are pleased that the budget includes several policies that will have a positive impact on the UK’s tourism industry. These include the welcome introduction of e-gates for more of our international visitors, improvement of transport links in our cities and digital connectivity in rural areas and funding to help restore and sustain our historic high streets.

“However, it is disappointing that there will be no change to APD and VAT regimes at this point, even though there is strong evidence that cutting these taxes will in fact generate more revenue for the government in the long term.”

UKHospitality’s chief executive, Kate Nicholls, commented: “This was a positive budget for hospitality, recognising and acknowledging our core campaigns around employment costs, business rates and digital paying its fair share.

“We estimate the measures announced in the Budget as a result of our campaigns are likely to save the trade £750 million.

“Hospitality businesses have been devastated by spiralling business rates costs, so steps to address this are welcome.

“UKHospitality has exhaustively campaigned for support for the sector on business rates, so it positive to see the government listening.

“The Chancellor has taken some positive steps to reassure and support hospitality businesses during uncertain political and economic times. We are now calling on the government to follow this positive budget with continued support for businesses, as we close in our withdrawal from the EU.”

The Wales Tourism Alliance welcomed news that the chancellor has promised the Welsh government an extra £550 million over the next three years, which the alliance hopes will have “direct or indirect benefits” for tourism.