Businesses have called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to boost regional growth by investing in travel and tourism.
Advocacy group BusinessLDN has called for the reintroduction of VAT-free shopping for international arrivals, as well as ramping up Border Force personnel to speed up queues at airports and ease visa processes for low-risk visitors such as children.
The measures – which campaigners say should be included in this week’s Budget – will be at no extra cost to the taxpayer.
By having tourists visit the wider country and not just London, the measures will unlock a regional growth of £1.3bn.
“We must bang the drum for London and the South East as the UK’s main front door and then better distribute the incoming visitors,” said chief executive John Dickie.
“These are no or low-cost measures which would enable us to maximise inbound visitors, better spread growth across the country and show the world Britain is open for business.”
Dickie’s comments echoed those of Mark Tanzer, chief executive of tourism trade body ABTA, who lobbied with the government to ensure the travel sector can “recover and thrive.”
“Getting the right tax and policy framework would see travel businesses continue to build on a decent summer, paving the way for strong recovery, which would support jobs, contributions to the Exchequer and the UK’s wider economic recovery,” Tanzer said on Friday.
A government spokesperson told City A.M. the priority remained “bearing down on inflation, maintaining economic stability and building economic growth across the whole country.”
“We recognise the challenges businesses are facing in the months ahead, including those in the tourism industry, which is why we are helping with their costs through the Energy Bill Support Scheme, business rates relief and a £2.4 billion fuel duty cut. Small businesses will also be fully protected from next year’s rise in corporation tax,” they said.