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TA Weekly Update – 21st September 2023

In this update

Tourism Policy Conference – thanks to those who came

The Tourism Policy Conference hosted by The Tourism Alliance in conjunction with the Tourism Society and British Destinations took place on Tuesday. We had a great range of speakers and panels, and we are very grateful to everyone who took part, especially the Tourism Minister, Sir John Whittingdale MP.

Thank you too to everyone who came along and took part in the discussions and debates from the floor. Everyone who attended should have received an email with a link to give feedback. Please help us by answering those three questions about the event.

Anyone who is interested can download the presenters’ slides via our website

New report: Taxing Tourists – The UK vs competitor destinations

At our conference we launched a new report – Taxing Tourists: The UK vs competitor destinations.

This collates the tax rates levied on overnight tourists in the UK versus a range of global destinations, many of whom have a dedicated tourism tax. It finds that despite not having a dedicated tourism tax, the UK still has the second highest rate of any of the destinations we looked at becasue of our very high rate of VAT on tourism accomodation – far higher than most other destinations. That means that we are just a few pence behind just one other destination – Amsterdam – who actually have a policy of reducing tourist numbers.

It is not that UK tourists are under-taxed, or don’t pay their way; rather the problem may be that the revenue raised by tourists through VAT is retained nationally and not given to local authorities and DMOs to fund local tourism-related services.

It is important to ensure that any debate about taxes on tourists happens with accurate data and comparing like-with-like, which is how we want this report to contribute.

Download the Taxing Tourists report PDF


Package Travel Regulations reform – call for evidence now published

We have been expecting for some time the publication of a call for evidence on changes to the Package Travel Regulations which happened finally this week, by coincidence just a day after the lead official at the Department for Business and Trade briefed the policy conference on this topic.

The Package Travel Regulations are currently retained EU law and in our view – and in the view of many business and DMOs surveys – hamper the ability of tourism business to offer value-added products to their customers.

We think a small, but important change to the definition of what constitutes a package in the domestic sector would make a big difference.

We have explained the background to the regulations, the effect they have on the ability to provide value-added products, and how we would like to see them changed, in our recently published Policy White Paper available on our website.

The Government appear willing to consider these and other changes to the PTRs so that consumers remain adequately protected, but so that unnecessary red-tape can be removed and free up tourism businesses to provide more value to holidaymakers.

The Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake MP, said:

“Our domestic travel industry is crucial to our economy, but many holiday companies are faced with often over-burdensome regulations that make it difficult for them to grow and thrive.

“Today’s consultation is a major step to cutting red tape, which could benefit millions of British holidaymakers and give the sector a much-needed boost for the future.”

We warmly welcome this call for evidence and will be submitting our views and evidnece in support of the change we wish to see. We would encoruage other TA members to do the same, and we will provide more information on that soon.

In the meantime you can read the Government’s press release here and the full call for evidence here.

Implications for member organisations of the Digital Markets Bill

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), together with a number of other member organisations including the National Trust and the RHS, have identified a significant issue of concern in the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, currently passing through Parliament.

The bill has some unintended consequences for organisations with individual members.

Membership (of charities) might be considered to be a subscription under the provisions of the Bill. The Bill considerably enhances the information and rights that have to be provided to consumers, for example:

•Key pre-contract information will need to be presented to the consumer prominently and clearly before the consumer places their order, and express acknowledgement from the consumer that the contract imposes an obligation to make payment must be obtained (e.g. checkbox).

•Multiple notices would have to be issued including: reminder notices, cooling off notices, acknowledgement of cancellation notices etc. These notices need to be sent at prescribed times, in prescribed formats and contain the mandatory information set out within the Bill.

•Cancellation: Provide a straightforward process to exit the contract via a single communication. The Bill will also extend consumers’ existing cancellation rights to all subscription contracts and introduce a new 14 day cancellation right after a free or reduced-price trial, and after auto-renewal if the renewal term is a year or more.

•For consumers who sign up at a property or via phone, ‘scripts’ would need to be provided to SSC advisors/staff/volunteers to make sure they read out the requisite information.

ALVA and other colleagues are working to seek an exemption for charities and donations in the bill and will keep TA members informed of any progress. If you would like to be more closely in contact about this please let us know and we will forward on your details.
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