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Tourism Alliance update – 25th January 2024

In this update:

Two Government consultations

47 co-signatories on joint letter to Chancellor on tax-free shopping

Many thanks to everyone who signed the joint letter to the Chancellor on tax-free shopping. 47 organisations from the Alliance have done so. Those organisations will now be added to others from different sectors including retail to demonstrate the importance of re-establishing a scheme for VAT-free shopping for international visitors both on the High Street, and in airports.

Budget submissions closed

The formal window for budget submissions to the Treasury closed yesterday. Thanks to the many organisations who submitted powerful cases and for much collaboration.

Our submission was in six areas:

  • The establishment of a new tax-free shopping regime for international visitors
  • The need for continued business rates relief and longer-term reform
  • The need to review and lower visitor visa costs
  • The impact of Air Passenger Duty on our price competitiveness as a destination
  • The need for a VAT cut for tourism businesses
  • The benefits of boosting VisitBritain’s international marketing budget

The Chancellor will deliver his budget statement on 6th March.

Government moves forward with plans to ban ‘drip pricing’

Following consultation late last year, to which weresponded, the Government has decided to move ahead with the banning of ‘drippricing’ and the hosting of fake reviews.

Read the full story here

While it will be perfectly fine for businesses to use the booking journey to upsell additional services and products, all mandatory fees, such as booking fees, will need to be included in the up-front price shown to the consumer.

There were lots of questions in the consultation about how to deal with variable mandatory fees as these are much harder for booking platforms to handle in this way. The Government hasn’t published any detail yet, but we’ll keep an eye out for it.

The same consultation also deals with the hosting of ‘fake reviews’. This will become a banned business practice and those hosting reviews may need to take steps to ensure some level of veracity. Again, detail to come. But it will hopefully make it easier for businesses, especially in the hospitality space, to deal with malicious fake reviews hosted elsewhere.

ONS data – questions around tourism ratios; dig in more at Tourism Insights Conference

The Office of National Statistics have published two data sets. The first is September 2023’s provisional International Passenger Survey data.

The headlines from VisitBritain on this are:

  • Visits: Inbound visits to the UK in September totalled at 3.0m visits, down 8% vs September 2019. Compared to September 2022, visits were up 2%, indicating a continued slowdown in the y-o-y growth trend (June was up 17%, July was up 13% and August was up 4% vs 2022).
  • Spend: visitor spend reached £2.7bn in September 2023, up 3% vs 2019 and up 1% vs 2022. It was the second highest September on record, behind the £2.9bn record in September 2017. In real terms, inbound spend to the UK was down 16% vs September 2019.
  • Spend per visit: Inbound visitors spent £881 per visit on average in September 2023, up 12% vs September 2019 (and down 1% vs 2022). In real terms, visitor spending was down 8% vs 2019.

There is a real story going on here, which may become clearer as we get more monthly data. But it appears strongly that the recovery of inbound tourists is slowing.

September 2023 IPS Monthly Summary

The second data set is the 2021 Tourism Satellite Account. This data looks at annual inbound, outbound and domestic expenditure on tourism, internal tourism consumption and employment for the tourism industries. Obviously 2021 was an odd year – and it’s now quite some time ago – so it’s hard to make significant use of this data. However, the interesting thing is the ratios ONS use to calculate the proportion of GVA in various areas to tourism some of which seem to be outrageously low. For instance, the proportion of “Accommodation services for visitors” assigned to tourism is just 13.5%. Only 5.9% of rail transport is considered tourism and only 18.5% of air travel.

Fortunately, ONS are undergoing a reform project at the moment, and we are pleased to say that they will be presenting at this year’s Tourism Insights Conference on 19th March. More details to come, but this will be an exceptionally interesting session.

ICYMI – we have also announced that Jon Young from BVA BDRC will be presenting at the conference which is also sure to be a fascinating insight.



A reminder to book your place at our Tourism Insights Conference being held on 19 March 2024, co-hosted with the Family Holiday Charity in conjunction with VisitEngland. A ticket to the conference  will also give you a place at our prestigious English Tourism Week Parliamentary Reception that same day.

We have some really great speakers and panels being lined up which will be announced soon. Book your place now.  We also have a range of sponsorship opportunities available for both the conference and the Parliamentary Reception

📅 19th March 2024
⏰ 0930-1400
🏢 No. 4 Hamilton Place, Mayfair, London – home of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

💷 £205-£295+VAT

Book Tickets

Sponsorship Opportunities


Sadiq Khan comes out strongly for UK-EU Youth Mobility

Read the full story here

We warmly welcomed the Mayor of London’s intervention on youth mobility this week.

He said to the Observer: “I’m clear that I’d be supportive of a youth mobility scheme, which would benefit us economically, culturally and socially.”

Khan joins politicians from across the political divide such as George Eustace MP (Cons, Cambourne & Redruth) and Tim Farron MP (LD, Westmorland and Lonsdale) who recognise the value of YMS to our economy and to young people both here and in Europe who would get the chance to experience life and cultures in other countries.

Download the Tourism Alliance White Paper on YMS


Two Government consultations

Building Safety Levy consultation

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Local Communities has launched a consultation this week on the design and implementation of the building safety levy. The consultation includes a question on whether hotels, amongst other types of development, should be excluded from the levy charge. You can respond to this consultation by following the link: Building Safety Levy consultation.

The Building Safety Act 2022 introduced powers to impose a levy on certain new residential buildings in England, to raise revenue to be spent on building safety. The government carried out an initial consultation on the levy which closed on 7 February 2023. The results of that consultation have been published online. Feedback from that consultation was used to develop the proposals outlined in this consultation, which provides a greater level of detail on the operation of the levy.

This consultation opened on 24th January and will close at 11:59pm on 20th February.

Consultation on age verification in connection with alcohol sales

The Home Office has launched a consultation on whether to allow digital identities and technology to play a role in age verification for alcohol sales, as well as whether to amend legislation in order to specify that for sales of alcohol that do not take place face to face, age verification should take place at the point of delivery as well as sale.

You can respond to this consultation by following the link: Alcohol licensing: age verification.

The consultation will close at 23.59 on Wednesday 30 March 2024.
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