In September 2020 the Government announced its decision to end the VAT RES and airside tax-free shopping from 1 January 2021 rather than extend it to visitors from EU countries.
As the decline in international visitor numbers to UK cities carries on, with devastating impacts on the retail and hospitality sectors, Marble Arch London BID continues to support New West End Company’s campaign to extend tax-free shopping to visitors from EU member states when the UK’s transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.
A poll of over 4,800 non-EU international travellers from the USA, Middle East and the Far East conducted the week after the decision was announced shows the impact:
- If tax-free shopping was abolished in the UK, would you still visit? Yes 38%, No 62%
- If tax-free shopping was abolished in the UK, would you still buy good there? Yes 7%, No 93%.
International visitors not only spend on tax-free shopping but on a range of services and industries that will also be affected by the new measures, from hotels and restaurants to culture and travel. The Association of International Retail estimates that international visitors spend £26 bn on other taxed goods and services.
Abolishing the scheme will decrease international visitor spending by around £6bn and result in up to 138,000 job losses. Whereas extending the scheme to EU visitors will increase visitor numbers by 948,000 and create up to 20,200 jobs.
Marble Arch London BID is backing New West End Company’s last push to get the regulations changed. NWEC are working closely with over twenty trade bodies, four public affairs agencies and over one hundred businesses across retail, leisure, hospitality, culture and tourism, under the Association of International Retail (AIR) to maximise resources and coordinate activities.
With the efforts and support of a number of businesses both in London and nationally, the Treasury is now in open conversations with the campaign group and moving slightly by agreeing, informally, to look again at the decision.
You might find the below resources useful:
- Short Briefing on Tax-Free Shopping, Association of International Retail
- The Impact of Ending Tax Free Shopping in the UK, CBRE report for the New West End
- Press release, Association of International Retail
If you would like to get involved in this campaign, please get in touch with the Marble Arch BID team at firstname.lastname@example.org