January 2015

Trade paper for the domestic tourism and inbound tourism industry in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland

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NO. 1 FOR DOMESTIC TRAVEL, TOURISM AND BUSINESS NEWS IN ENGLAND, IRELAND, SCOTLAND & WALES NO. 1 FOR DOMESTIC TRAVEL, TOURISM AND BUSINESS NEWS IN ENGLAND, IRELAND, SCOTLAND & WALES December 2014 – January 2015 No. 433 APD cuts for children receive mixed reaction from inbound and domestic trade Tourism sets out its stall as election looms By Samantha Mayling VAT and visas are at the top of travel's 'to do' list, as the industry gears up to make its case ahead of May's general election. Tourist boards are lobbying as parties prepare their manifestos, and businesses hope for action to cut red tape and keep consumer confidence growing. 2014 was a record year for inbound tourism – and falling oil prices and the axe on Air Passenger Duty for children could buoy 2015 figures. UKinbound chief executive Deirdre Wells said: "I predict 2015 will be another record year for inbound tourism, exceeding £34 million, which is especially valuable as I also predict the wane of the 'staycation' – making the value of inbound tourism to the UK economy and employment even more important. "On my wish list is a quick decision on airport expansion and I'd like to see a roll-out of online visa applications to the rest of the Brics to mirror the success of Chinese visas." Kurt Janson, Tourism Alliance policy director, warned: "2015 is going to be challenging. On the inbound side, the main concerns are that the Eurozone looks to be heading into recession again and there is potential for considerable fall-out from the problems associated with the Russian economy. forecasts for the UK economy as a whole." Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland chief executive, said the trade needs political support in order to compete with other destinations. Such support includes cutting VAT and APD – and the latter looks set to be cut when it is devolved to the Scottish government. Roughead added: "It is essential we present ourselves as a welcoming country and this starts with the visa application process." Simon Altham, Hoseasons managing director, said: "We would like to see a recognition of the industry's importance at a government level with the renewal of a ministerial position for tourism." Sally Balcombe, VisitBritain chief executive, highlighted how tourism remains a cross- government priority and is forced to deal with a number of departments. But she sounded a positive note, adding: "The GREAT campaign has brought together the promotion of tourism, trade, investment and study opportunities in the UK, and has given our industry a presence within government which it lacked before." VisitBritain will work with VisitEngland this year on the GREAT Northern Futures tourism fund, announced by the deputy prime minister, to develop tourism in northern England. Exclusive travel trade press sponsor "On the domestic side, wage growth is only just starting to exceed inflation which, combined with nervousness about the election, will probably suppress bookings, at least in the first half of the year." The alliance is also concerned the next government will introduce more spending cuts, so is preparing for the election by highlighting tourism's economic benefits. In 2015, VisitEngland will be halfway towards its target of increasing expenditure by £50 billion and creating 225,000 new tourism jobs by 2020. Chairman Lady Cobham said the agency will launch a revised Strategic Framework, setting the direction for the next decade. She added: "Plans are in full swing for English Tourism Week (March 14-22) and [we are] gearing up for another exciting campaign to promote the travel agent." The British Hospitality Association is spotlighting the sector's economic importance and lobbying on training, planning, regulations, VAT and visas. Ufi Ibrahim, BHA chief executive, added: "The tourism and hospitality industry has huge amounts of potential, employing one in 10 of the UK workforce. "It is predicted the sector will grow at an annual rate of almost 4% over the next 10 years, significantly faster than Woo from the Shard The View from The Shard is opening until midnight on Valentine's Day to enable romantic visitors to linger for longer at the attraction. And in the run-up to the day itself, the venue is hosting romantic events to woo even more visitors. These include a film screening on February 10 and a chocolate tasting session with confectionery from luxury chocolate company Paul A Young on February 11. The attraction is already a popular location for marriage proposals. Two couples got engaged within 10 minutes of the attraction's opening, and more than a dozen proposals took place on Valentine's Day 2014. The scrapping of Air Passenger Duty for children in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement was welcomed by many in the inbound sector – but others accused the government of being shortsighted. UKinbound is a member of the Fair Tax on Flying campaign, and applauded the APD cut. Deirdre Wells, chief executive, said: "Inbound tourism has lost out in recent years to European competitors and so this is a huge step in ensuring the UK remains as competitive as possible. "Inbound tourism is particularly important as it currently contributes around £20 billion a year to UK PLC and anything that encourages more visitors is a good thing for the nation's coffers and employment." However Dan Yates, founder of camping website, said: "This abolition has not really been clearly thought through. "The reduction clearly does nothing for the domestic tourism market [and] contrary to claims that APD deters tourists, last year saw the most foreign visitors to the UK since records began." Mike Newman, managing director of b2me Tourism Marketing, argued that the Chancellor would make more impact by targeting groups of travellers aged over 60. Regional airline Flybe reacted with a national media campaign against APD, and called for broader reform. Saad Hammad, Flybe chief executive, said: "This change is just tinkering at the edges and represents a missed opportunity by the Chancellor to show that he is serious about the economic regeneration of the UK regions." The announcement by the Chancellor came as the commission set up in the wake of the Scottish referendum on independence recommended that Air Passenger Duty be fully devolved to Scotland. The announcement sparked fears that airports in the rest of the UK, and in the north of England in particular, would suffer if flying into and out of airports in Scotland was financially more attractive. Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: "Any inconsistencies between what a passenger pays flying from Scotland compared to elsewhere in the UK could create an uncompetitive and damaging situation for travel businesses. "Abta is urging the UK government to review the level and impact of this damaging tax with a view to reducing it across the whole country."

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