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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

Cumbria Tourism wants Chancellor to cut VAT on accommodation

Cumbria Tourism is calling on Chancellor George Osborne to reduce the VAT rate on accommodation in next week’s Budget.

Tourism in the county had a difficult year in 2012 as the weak economy, bad weather and the focus on London for the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics combined to keep visitors away.

Hopes are high that 2013 will be better.

Richard Greenwood, Cumbria Tourism’s director of policy and performance, believes that next Wednesday’s Budget is a golden opportunity to give tourism operators a boost.

He said: “We would encourage the Government to reduce VAT levels for the hospitality industry, bringing the UK more in line with destinations such as Ireland, France and the U.S.

“That would attract more consumer spending on holidays in England.”

In Ireland, for example, the VAT rate on accommodation is nine per cent, compared with 20 per cent in UK.

As well as being Budget week, next week is English Tourism Week.

Mr Greenwood underlined the importance of the sector to the county’s economy.

He said: “Tourism is a very important within Cumbria, employing 56,500 people and bringing £2.2bn into the local economy.”

He would also like the Government to improve the transport infrastructure, increasing capacity at airports and electrifying the railway lines to Windermere and west Cumbria.

He says the Chancellor should look at ways to boost spending by families to support the visitor economy, addressing the issue rising energy bills that reduce disposable incomes.

And he wants Mr Osborne to remove “unhelpful regulation and layers of local government” to free up administrative resources and money.

Mr Greenwood added: “We understand that the Government has to make some tough decisions but it is also important to focus on policies that deliver growth.

“Through reviewing its policies on strategic infrastructure, addressing squeezed family incomes and cutting red tape, the Government can create the conditions for the tourism sector to thrive. Thereby creating jobs and building the visitor economy in the process.”

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