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Funway faces claims it is scaremongering over tax


Juliet Dennis


A claim that agents are building up huge liabilities by not using tax- paid incentive schemes has been dismissed as scaremongering. Funway, which set up


MoneyCard in 2013, has warned travel agents they could be accruing thousands of pounds in backdated tax liability on tour operator incentives amid fears HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is to clamp down on those who have not paid tax. Agents are liable for tax and national insurance on suppliers’ booking incentives, unless the operator has paid on their behalf. However, Darren Pearson, chief executive of rival scheme Mybookingrewards.com, claimed agents were aware they needed to pay tax and were happy to declare this to HMRC. Mybookingrewards.com has 11,000 agents signed up globally, including 5,000-6,000 in the UK, to receive incentives from 350 suppliers, mainly hotels, tourist boards and attraction providers. “Agents panic when they read this,” said Pearson.


“We carried out a poll and the majority of agents liked it as it is. They are happy to take responsibility and don’t want the tax deducted at source.” But Funway managing director


Stephen Rhodes hit back, saying a tax-free way to earn incentives was “hugely beneficial” for agents, pointing out that nearly 5,000 agents had signed up to MoneyCard.


“Schemes such as MoneyCard make it clear we pay tax and national insurance, while others that don’t hide it in the terms and conditions.


“With schemes that don’t pay


the tax and national insurance, agents need to complete a self-assessment form at the end of the year. This is not scaremongering – it’s fact.” Funway said it had been


approached by eight operators in the past month interested in joining the four suppliers already offering MoneyCard.


3


Viking bullish about plans in face of Sky ship delay


Katie McGonagle


Viking Cruises’ third ocean ship, Viking Sky, has been delayed until 2017, but the line’s chairman, Torstein Hagen, insisted the delay would not hamper his bold expansion plans. Viking Star, the first vessel in the line’s ocean fleet, launched last


week. A further two ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, had been due to launch next year, but delays with the building of Holland America Line’s Koningsdam at Italian shipyard Fincantieri have had a knock-on effect for one of the Viking ships. Speaking onboard Viking Star, Hagen said the third ship was being delayed by several months and now will not launch until spring 2017. Passengers already booked will be able to switch their bookings to Viking Sea. Hagen remained bullish about the line’s ambitious expansion plans, saying he would like to see the fleet


grow to 10 ocean ships and 100 river ships by 2020. “We have options for up to six ocean ships,” he said. “Then our idea is to hopefully build two ships a year every year thereafter.


“I think we have proved that we know exactly what the


customers want. We placed orders when nobody else had the balls to do it. We are in a very strong financial position.” Hagen also indicated the line would look to Asia – particularly


Singapore and Hong Kong – and South America as possible destinations, refusing to rule out the potential for a world cruise and even expedition cruises to Antarctica. UK managing director Wendy Atkin-Smith added: “We have 63


river cruise ships already, so 100 by 2020 is not out of the question.” Meanwhile, Viking has begun its first advertising campaign for its ocean and river product, with a six-month sponsorship deal on UKTV.


7 May 2015 — travelweekly.co.uk • 5


“I think we’ve proved


we know what the customers want”


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