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Green Party pledges to cut tourism VAT in election manifesto

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The Green Party has become the second national political party to commit to reducing VAT on tourism from 20 to 5 per cent in its election manifesto, following in the footsteps of Plaid Cymru.

Despite reports of a ‘Green Surge’ in recent months – with the party now boasting more members than Ukip – the notion is largely symbolic, given that the Greens are forecast to win just one seat – the retention of Caroline Lucas's Brighton Pavilion constituency. That said, the prospect of the tightest general election in decades has thrust smaller political parties into the spotlight, as their support could be crucial in forming a coalition government.

Tourism bosses have long been campaigning for a reduction in VAT on accommodation and attractions, to place the UK in line with the rest of Europe. The Nevin report, commissioned by the Cut Tourism VAT Campaign, found that a VAT reduction from 20 per cent to five per cent for tourism businesses would provide a £4bn (US$6.7bn, €5bn) boost to the UK economy, create 120,000 jobs and put the UK back on a level footing with European tourism rivals.

“International competition for tourism is increasing while the UK’s share of the global tourism market is declining, and I am delighted that a national political party has today committed to do something about it,” said Graham Wason, chair of Cut Tourism VAT.

“Reducing VAT on tourism to 5 per cent would not only make the UK more competitive with other destinations within Europe, but would also increase the affordability and attractiveness of regional tourism hotspots and generate more investment for local businesses.”

The Cut Tourism VAT Campaign has been gathering steady momentum in the last 12 months. A February 2014 debate on the matter at the Houses of Parliament saw a number of MPs speak out in favour of the cut, while the campaign has received substantial national newspaper coverage, with Britain’s best-selling daily newspaper The Sun offering strong support.

Despite this momentum, the Labour and Conservative manifestos have only made limited references to tourism, but as Tourism Alliance policy director Kurt Janson noted in his recent Leisure Opportunities column: “While tourism is not at the forefront of the party manifestos, it is extremely encouraging that,

whatever the outcome of the election, all the main parties are engaged on tourism.” The nation goes to the polls on 7 May.

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The Green Party has become the second national political party to commit to reducing VAT on tourism from 20 to 5 per cent in its election manifesto, following in the footsteps of Plaid Cymru.
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Green Party leader Natalie Bennett unveiled the manifesto this week / Edinburgh Greens
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