North Antrim MLA David McIlveen is backing a VAT reduction for tourist accommodation in Northern Ireland.
Mr. McIlveen, Chair of the All Party Group on Tourism said that whilst Northern Ireland has made ‘significant progress’ in the tourism sector in recent years, the ‘undeniable’ fact remains that the province has the lowest contribution from tourism to GDP in the whole of the British Isles.
Speaking this week Mr McIlveen said: “In September 2012, in my first Assembly term, myself and DUP colleagues Simon Hamilton and Gregory Campbell raised this issue and received Assembly support. Since then, the First and Deputy First Ministers and the Finance Minister have been pursuing the case with Her Majesty’s Treasury, in an effort to obtain the maximum possible reduction in VAT. Having recently taken up the new post as Minister for Finance and Personel Mr Hamilton is as convinced as ever that a reduction in VAT particularly on hotel rooms would do a lot to drive our tourism sector even more, so there can be no doubt that we will continue to press the case with Treasury.
“I have very good links with the local tourism industry in North Antrim and I work hard to keep myself informed about the issues that affect them most. I know the question of VAT is one they take very seriously and they are absolutely “As Chair of the All Party Group on Tourism, I am fortunate to work closely with many of those within the tourism sector. I recently hosted the launch of the Northern Ireland Hotel Federation report, Tourism 2020: Investing in Our Future. In that, the Federation sets out the 5 Ts, that Northern Ireland needs to promote its tourism sector. They are tourism, targets, trading, training and of course, tax.
“One of the most telling parts of the report stated that we have the third highest VAT rate in Europe at 20% and are one of only four countries in the 28 member EU that does not have a reduced rate for accommodation. This barrier to growth is causing considerable problems to our hoteliers in this part of the United Kingdom and I hope we can continue to work to remove this particular barrier.”