Tourist tax backlash heats up as 40 Tory MPs tell Rishi Sunak that it’s time to ditch the much-criticised levy
- Leading figures have backed the Daily Mail’s campaign to Scrap the Tourist Tax
- Read more: Now 200 firms are saying that the tourist tax should be taxed
More than 40 Tory MPs and peers have written to Rishi Sunak demanding he scrap the much-criticised ‘tourist tax’ holding back Britain.
They warn that the UK’s economy and global reputation is being damaged by the Government’s refusal to reinstate tax-free shopping for overseas tourists.
Hundreds of leading figures from across the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors have already backed the Daily Mail’s campaign to Scrap the Tourist Tax.
Now the Prime Minister is facing demands from his own MPs – including several former Cabinet ministers – to think again.
In an open letter, they urge Mr Sunak to commission an independent assessment of the full impact of tax-free shopping on the economy. The MPs, led by backbenchers Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Damian Green, demand the PM ‘seriously consider reinstating the scheme’.
More than 40 Tory MPs and peers have written to Rishi Sunak (pictured), demanding he scrap the much-criticised ‘tourist tax’ holding back Britain
Signatories include 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady, and ex-Cabinet ministers Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Sir Robert Buckland, Dr Liam Fox, Karen Bradley and Lord [Ed] Vaizey.
Many more Tory MPs are privately supportive, but were unable to sign the letter because they are on the Government payroll. Pointing to data highlighted by the Mail, the letter says the UK is losing out to France, Spain and Italy as international tourists ‘divert their spending away from Britain’.
The MPs also say that – far from the Treasury’s claim that scrapping the tourist tax would cost £2billion a year – there would be a net gain of around £350million. An Oxford Economics study suggests the move would bring a £4.1billion boost to GDP and support 78,000 jobs.
The MPs also say that reintroducing the scheme would help the regions.
A letter to the Chancellor (pictured), organised by hotelier Sir Rocco Forte, has now been signed by 200 top firms – including Marks & Spencer as well as the bosses of the Ritz London and Selfridges
They write: ‘Most regional airports fly only to EU destinations and, by making Britain the only major European country where the 450million EU residents can shop tax-free, we would open-up a whole new tourist market.
‘Already Britons can shop tax-free in the EU and we understand that there were over 520,000 tax-refund claims made last year.’
READ MORE: Now 200 firms say the tourist tax should be taxed: Bosses of Selfridges and The Ritz join our fight to get UK booming
The MPs refute the Government’s claim that scrapping the tourist tax would have ‘limited behavioural effect on decisions to visit, or spend, in the UK’.
‘The actual data is proving the Treasury’s forecast to be wrong,’ the letter to Mr Sunak states.
‘We ask you to look again, commission an independent assessment of the full impact of tax-free shopping on the UK economy and tax revenues, and seriously consider reinstating the scheme.’
A Government spokesman said last night: ‘While we want to continue to attract tourists to the UK and boost business competition, we are committed to an approach to the public finances that is responsible.’
A separate letter to the Chancellor, organised by hotelier Sir Rocco Forte, has now been signed by 200 top firms – including Marks & Spencer as well as the bosses of the Ritz London and Selfridges.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said last night: ‘The data which shows the decline in high-spending international visitors compared to other countries is startling, with 2022 spending by American visitors in Britain at 101 per cent of 2019 levels compared to 226 per cent in France.’
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