Daily Mail

Ditch the ‘tourist levy’ urge West End shops

- By Emily Hawkins Business Reporter

MINISTERS have been urged to scrap a ‘tourist tax’ by business group leaders, who say London’s prime shopping district is losing out to European rivals.

The New West End Company, which represents 600 firms across Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, have warned that internatio­nal travellers are not flocking back to the capital at the same rate as they are returning to Paris and Milan after VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors was ditched two years ago.

It says allowing foreign visitors to reclaim the 20 per cent tax on their shopping would make London and the rest of the UK more enticing.

Their report yesterday said: ‘To ensure that the West End is able to compete with its European rivals and realise its potential to thrive,

NWEC is calling on the Government to build on the resilience the district has shown and implement valuable growth measures including the reintroduc­tion of tax-free shopping in the UK.’

Dee Corsi, chief executive of NWEC, said the West End has an ‘eager internatio­nal audience with cash to spend waiting in the wings’. It comes after designer brands including Kurt Geiger and Burberry criticised the policy, claiming internatio­nal shoppers are being driven away.

A report from analysts Oxford Economics claimed restoring the policy would boost the Treasury coffers by £350million a year, attracting an extra 1.6 million visitors to the UK.

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