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OTTERY: Calls for businesses to back campaign for tourism VAT cut

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Business leaders in Ottery have welcomed calls for a VAT cut to help support the town’s tourism industry.
Devon County Councillor for Ottery, Claire Wright, is backing a national campaign for action to support local tourism businesses, and will be presenting her case to East Devon District Council this week.
Councillor Wright said: “I think everywhere in East Devon needs a boost, including inland towns like Ottery. Things are tough at the moment for our tourism businesses with the bad weather and the fact that it can be cheaper to go on holiday abroad.
“But tourism is the lifeblood of the East Devon economy and the myriad of small businesses, such as shops, hotels and B&Bs, make for a strong rural economy.
“The Government seems to be focusing on big business and big infrastructure projects to boost the economy, but in my view a far more effective approach would be to support tourist business through cutting tourism VAT.
“Many successful small businesses are preferable to one or two big businesses in an area, as they are more resilient and flexible when it comes to surviving tough times.”
Councillor Wright will urge the council to join the campaign and lobby its MPs for a reduction in tourism VAT to five per cent.
And she now has the support of key tourism businesses in Ottery, who say they are still suffering as a result of the high rate.
Ruud Jansen Venneboer, of Mazzard Farm holiday cottages, said he expected every tourism business in Ottery to get behind the campaign.
He said: “We operate in an international market and we are at a significant disadvantage with VAT rates in this country as they are.
“This is one of a number of things the Government could be doing to make it more affordable and give people more purchasing power.
“It would make a big difference to business in Ottery - 15 per cent of the workforce here is tourism-related.”
Tourism VAT elsewhere in Europe is typically much lower than in the UK, with rates of between five and 11 per cent in most countries.
Paul Thurgate, from the Tumbling Weir Hotel, said a VAT cut would help his business compete on the international stage.
He said: “It has been so difficult for us to absorb the increase – as soon as you start putting prices up you lose business.
“Here in Ottery we are so well positioned – for people who perhaps do not want to stay down on the coast, or business people visiting Exeter who would rather stay outside the city – but the VAT is killing us.
“If we could reduce room rates by £15 a month we would have so many more people staying with us.”
Support for the campaign follows the continued success of the region’s businesses in the Tourism Excellence Awards, where 16 of this year’s 79 finalists to be recognised by VisitEngland are based in the South West.


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