Anger as VAT and APD ignored
CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has been accused of ignoring the opportunity to boost Northern Ireland’s economy by ignoring tourism VAT and air passenger duty (APD).
Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster said while the drinks industry was relieved at the duty freeze on beer, cider and spirits, he said that the Budget had missed an opportunity.
“The potential for this Budget to deliver for the Northern Ireland economy and the hospitality sector was great, but instead it has left so many issues hanging and many questions unanswered,” he said.
Claiming that Northern Ireland had been pushed “far down the pecking order” by the Treasury, he continued: “We are dismayed that the Chancellor has failed to address the issue of tourism VAT, stating that the existence of multiple VAT rates in the same territory would lead to additional administrative burdens for taxpayers and businesses.”
Labelling the UK’S 20% tourism VAT rate as one of the highest in Europe, he said Northern Ireland hospitality and tourism businesses remain particularly vulnerable, faced by the 13.5% rate in the Republic.
“The disadvantage continues to be acutely felt right across Northern Ireland, with the NI VAT rate acting as a brake on the growth of the hospitality and tourism sector.
“How can the sector in NI be expected to compete when the UK government continues to tie the hands of the sector behind its back on this issue as the Republic pushes on, even at a new higher rate of 13.5% in the new year.”
Meanwhile, the hospitality chief said there was frustration at the lack of movement on APD.
“We are disappointed that there has been no movement by the Chancellor today, but it is a result that a technical working group is to be established to examine the issue in detail.
“We are hopeful that the group can come to a definitive and positive conclusion as soon as possible.
“We live on an island, and in terms of business travel and tourists we need to maximise the opportunity that we have by lowering or eradicating barriers when it comes to getting on and off our island.
“Our airports have to compete internationally, and with the likes of Dublin airport only 100 miles down the road we have to pull every economic lever available to us when it comes to air travel.
“No change means that we continue to face the difficulties this tax presents.”