// Walpole calls on the UK government to reintroduce tax-free shopping in order to boost the British economy in its new report
//250 luxury brands are urging the government to reintroduce tax-free shopping to ensure that the UK’s economic recovery matches its European counterparts
British luxury trade body Walpole, which includes Burberry, Harrods, and Net-a-Porter among its members, has called on the UK government to reintroduce tax-free shopping in order to boost the British economy by at least £1.2 billion in its latest report.
The findings were unveiled in Walpole’s new tourist report, ‘What It’s Worth: Enabling The Return of the £30bn High-End Tourism Sector,’ which highlights the value of high-end tourism to the UK’s economy and the need for government action to allow the UK to be prosperous.
It also outlined the role that tourism played in Britain’s economy pre-pandemic, where both domestic and international tourism, contributed to 4% of GDP and had an overall value of £85 billion.
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250 luxury brands are calling on the government to reintroduce tax-free shopping to ensure that the UK’s economic recovery matches its European counterparts.
They state this would help the UK’s post-pandemic tourism economy match that of France, Italy and other EU countries, all of which are returning to pre-pandemic levels at a much faster rate.
High-end tourism in the UK was worth £30 billion pounds in 2019 alone, adds Walpole, but Britain is struggling to recover to pre-pandemic levels. It believes that it’s because of the governments decided to abandon the tax-free shopping scheme in 2020, which it estimates has resulted in a 38% drop in retail sales to non-EU visitors.
Since Brexit and the pandemic, Britain has lost its position as the favoured destination for high spending international tourists – largely due to the government decision to abolish tax-free shopping (the VAT Retail Export Scheme) in 2020, making Britain the only European country not to offer tax-free shopping to non-EU tourists.
Walpole CEO Helen Brocklebank said: “To say that it has been a challenging few years for the UK tourism industry would be an understatement, however we are now in a position where the UK can open its doors to the world and welcome back international tourists – especially those high-end tourists who are looking to spend in our luxury hotels, restaurants, shops and cultural venues up and down the country, all the while aiding economic growth and job creation.
“By doing this, we can work together to make the UK the destination of choice for those looking to travel post-Covid and fuel the UK’s long-term recovery.”