Perth and North Perthshire MP, Pete Wishart has joined SNP parliamentary colleagues in calling for a review of the rate of VAT on tourism.
With tourism one of Perthshire’s major employers, the local MP says a move to reduce VAT on tourism would be a significant stimulus to the local economy.
Mr Wishart also points to the fact that 25 of the 27 EU countries have reduced VAT rates on tourism. This encourages investment and the SNP MP says that with the UK being one of the most expensive countries to visit, action is needed to help make the industry competitive and bring more visitors to key tourist areas like Perthshire.
In the letter to the Chancellor, the SNP MPs point out that in the last five years the tourism and hospitality industry in Scotland has reached a point where it now accounts for about 7% of total employment - and that there are concerns that the high rate of VAT is holding back potential for growth.
Pete Wishart MP said:
“Tourism is vital in areas like Perthshire, as is plainly obvious from the increase in visitors we see during the summer months.
“The tourism sector in Perthshire has continued to enjoy increased investment but the UK Government has a role to play, which is why I am urging the Treasury to revisit the issue of VAT as it relates to tourism.
“High rates of VAT are a serious challenge to the industry and we know that in countries where it has been reduced, there is clear evidence that tourism and the wider hospitality business thrives. Tourism in the UK is consistently held back by our uncompetitive tax environment.
“We need to change that balance and help attract more visitors to Perthshire, who in turn will be spending more money and generating more investment and jobs in our local economy. That situation is replicated in many areas right across Scotland and the UK.
''What our calls hope to achieve is that the UK Government will work with the tourism industry on how best to address our lack of competitiveness - and look at the evidence about how reducing VAT acts as a spur.''