Jeremy Hunt is urged to ditch hated ‘tourist tax’ after refusing to bring back VAT-free shopping for tourists – as boss of luxury watch pleads with chancellor ‘we can’t all be wrong’
- Watches of Switzerland CEO asked Mr Hunt to give subject proper consideration
- He noted that stats point to how tourism is doing elsewhere, versus the UK
Refusing to reintroduce the VAT-free shopping scheme for tourists was a ‘huge missed opportunity’ for the UK, Jeremy Hunt was told last night.
Brian Duffy, who runs luxury watch retailer Watches of Switzerland, urged the Chancellor to ‘please give this subject the consideration and analysis that it deserves’.
He added: ‘There are plenty of stats around about how tourism is doing elsewhere [versus the UK]. We can’t all be wrong.’
More than 200 business chiefs have backed the Mail’s bid to ‘Scrap the Tourist Tax’, with household names including Harrods, Marks & Spencer and Burberry calling on the Government to ditch the policy.
Brian Duffy, who runs luxury watch retailer Watches of Switzerland, urged Jeremy Hunt to ‘please give this subject the consideration and analysis that it deserves’ (File Photo)
Mr Duffy said the absence of tax-free shopping meant Chinese tourists would hold back on splurging in Britain as they returned to Europe after lockdowns. He added: ‘They might come to the UK to see cultural attractions and so on, but they won’t spend.’
It comes just days after Walpole, the industry group for British luxury brands, warned the tourist tax was a ‘drag’ and was ‘eroding’ London’s status as a top shopping destination.
Helen Brocklebank, chief executive of Walpole, said tax-free shopping would not only boost London but also be a shot in the arm for regional manufacturing hubs. She added: ‘A cashmere jersey made in Elgin, Scotland, might be bought in Harrods, but it is supporting 800 jobs in that quite remote part of Scotland.
‘Although London is the country shop window, the “engine room” is completely national.’