Ritchie calls for debate on Tourism VAT rate

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Monday, December 30th, 2013
SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie has called for a Parliamentary debate on the tourism industry in Northern Ireland and asked the UK government to lower the rate of VAT on tourism services. Speaking at Business Questions in the House of Commons Ritchie asked that Parliamentary time be set aside in the New Year to address these matters. “Tourism is at the heart of our economy, whether for St Patrick in South Down, the Titanic Centre in Belfast or the City of Culture celebrations in Derry and we should be doing more to build on recent achievements to develop growth in the sector. “Our businesses are faced with stiff competition against the lower rate of VAT in the South of Ireland, the value of which was demonstrated by the Irish Government’s decision to retain this rate for another year,” she insisted. “Unfortunately the UK Government have not made similar decisions and as a result our local industry is not growing as quickly as it could be. A shared lower rate of VAT for tourism products would boost hotels, restaurants and the whole economy in the North and across Ireland. Ritchie added, “The reality is that most visitors choose to visit Ireland and are oblivious to the border – our policy decisions need to reflect that to develop a more a comprehensive tourism strategy that utilises our island economy.”
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