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Chancellor's mini-budget welcomed but travel industry calls for more help

Overall, the UK travel industry has welcomed aspects of Chancellor Rishi Sunak's mini-budget speech but calls remain for the government to do more to support the travel industry

An ABTA spokesperson welcomed the speech as "good news for domestic tourism."

"However, the lack of backing for outbound tourism represents a missed opportunity, as this is a sector that directly provides 220,000 jobs right across the UK and is in urgent need of tailored support. We shall continue to press for additional support measures for the travel and tourism industry in the coming weeks,” the ABTA spokesperson added.

Joss Croft, UKinbound CEO said the temporary VAT cut from 20% to 5% and the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme will "deliver immediate positive impacts for businesses and consumers", along with the Job Retention Bonus Scheme, "but only [for] those that survive into next year."

"These measures will not help the many businesses involved in inbound tourism who drive regional economies and jobs, and who are on the brink; longer-term support will still be required for these businesses, which have been hit even harder than domestic and outbound,” commented Mr Croft.

Two hotel managers were upbeat about the VAT cut and £10 dining scheme as ways to encourage more people to eat out and visit their properties.

Howard Hastings, managing director of Hastings Hotels said: ‘’We very much welcome today’s announcement from the Chancellor regarding the cut to VAT on food, accommodation and attractions from 20% to 5%. We are currently updating our rates to reflect this and the new, lower-priced accommodation will be available to book from today."

"The introduction of the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme giving diners 50% off their meals Monday to Wednesday from August 1 will also be implemented across our seven properties. These measures will go a long way in helping the local economy recover in the coming weeks and months ahead and will hopefully encourage more people to visit restaurants and book a staycation this summer. We hope this will also give an extra incentive to visitors from the UK  to book a visit to Northern Ireland this summer as it certainly adds extra value to what we already offer. With the increased demand we hope these measures will generate, we will now re-open the Europa Hotel for accommodation earlier than planned on Saturday August 1,’ Mr Hastings said.

Stephen Gow, general manager of The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen, said, "The hospitality industry has long been lobbying for a cut in VAT as it places a disproportionate burden on the sector compared to other European countries which have reduced VAT rates. This is a welcome short-term boost for the industry as well as for our guests and diners. The VAT cut from 20% to 5% for the next six months on food and accommodation will encourage more people to eat out and to travel and will kickstart the sector in Scotland as we begin to emerge from this unprecedented period of closure."

Mr Gow described the £10 dining scheme as "an innovative measure", adding that he looks forward to finding out more about how it will operate.

"Currently, The Chester Hotel is only open from Wednesday to Sunday so that we can test our new ways of operating safely, but this may help us back towards seven day opening for our al fresco dining experience," Mr Gow said. "It's our understand that hospitality businesses will register through a website to claim and this will be repaid to businesses within five days. If this system is as efficient as the HMRC furlough payments have been then this will provide an excellent support for businesses in our sector which need all the help and support they can to face the future post-lockdown."

Image credit: Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government/Flickr


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