The King’s tailor leads protest over tourist tax
THE TAILOR to the King braved the rain alongside leading Savile Row designers yesterday to demand Rishi Sunak scrap the tourist tax.
Some 400 businesses, including Burberry and Marks & Spencer, have already backed the Mail’s campaign to reinstate VAT-free shopping for tourists.
They warn that, since the UK axed the incentive in 2021, tourists have instead flocked to places such as Paris and Milan.
Anda Rowland, director of Anderson & Sheppard, whose double-breasted suits are sported by King Charles, said the tax could lead to job losses on the famed street, home to tailors including Gieves and Hawkes, Huntsman and Henry Poole & Co.
She said schemes such as her firm’s five-year apprenticeships for craftsmen could be at risk if customers shunned the UK, adding: ‘It is just going to get worse... people will just spend elsewhere.’
Simon Cundey, the seventh generation of his family to run Henry Poole & Co, said the government had handed European countries an ‘advantage card’. He urged Mr Sunak to ‘look at the maths’ after research showed Paris and Rome enjoying a bigger post-Covid tourist rebound than London.
Extra visitors would boost the wider economy as visitors who come to the UK to shop also spend money on transport, theatre, restaurants and coffee shops.
Tommy Raban, a menswear tailor at Scabal, which has designed suits for films including The Godfather and The Wolf of Wall Street, said a lack of a tax-free scheme was a ‘massive challenge’ for the sector. He added: ‘People are now shopping in Milan and in Paris. It has affected us dramatically.’
Jeweller Kiki McDonough, whose gems have been worn by Princess Diana and Kate, said the government appeared ‘out of touch’ on the levy’s wider consequences, adding: ‘This is not about Bond Street... this is about the whole country – we are really down on tourists spending money.’
Sir Rocco Forte, whose open letter to the Chancellor began the campaign, said: ‘It is the most antibusiness government we have had since the 1970s. It doesn’t seem to be receiving the message at all.’
The fashion sector is hoping Jeremy Hunt will show a change of heart on the issue in his Autumn Budget later this month.