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New survey reveals the true cost of holidays

UFI IBRAHIM is chief executive officer of the British Hospitality Association

UK tourists flock to Emerald Isle S

Te UK government is com- ing under pressure from operators in the tourism industry to cut VAT, follow- ing a turnaround in visitor numbers to the Republic of Ireland. Growing visitor numbers have followed an adjustment in the VAT rate for holidays from 13.5 per cent to 9 per cent. Te latest figures show 1.77

ummer 2013 will no doubt go down in the history books as a success. Bright sunshine, successes at Wimbledon and the Ashes and a

royal baby have all contributed to national wellbeing, heightening the feel-good factor. It seems that now, more than ever, there

is the desire and impetus to put the ‘Great’ back into Britain and capitalise on all we have to offer. With so much on our door- step – great landmarks, stunning beaches, even the sunshine, 2013 should go down as the year of the staycation, when the UK became a hotspot once again for hospitality and tourism. Except the reality isn’t quite so rosy. As

the summer holidays draw to a close we might reflect on some of the lessons learned in our busiest season, notably the fact that the cost of holidaying in the UK is turn- ing people away from holidaying at home. A national survey commissioned by

the Cut Tourism VAT Campaign, found 86 per cent of British people consider the cost when choosing to go on holiday, with a quarter saying it’s the most important factor. Researchers polled 2,000 respondents to

find out how much they’re willing to pay for holiday purchases and eight out of 10 said they’d be more likely to holiday in the UK if hotels and attractions were cheaper. Te study found that an ice cream cost-

ing more than £1.86, a family meal out over £70 and a hotel above £90 a night are deemed to be ‘too expensive’. Sixteen per cent of people believe you get more for your money if you go abroad, while 40 per cent say there’s a better chance of good weather. Tis survey tells us everyone has a limit

on how much they are willing to spend – even on having fun. We believe Britain is a great country with

so much to do we should be making it easy for people to holiday at home. But tour- ism VAT levels in the UK are the highest in Europe, making it hard for us to compete. As a result Britain’s domestic holidaymak- ers get a worse deal and the UK tourism industry suffers.


million visitors flocked to the Emerald Isle between March and May this year. Of these, 726,000 were from the UK – an increase of almost 6 per cent over last year. Operators in the UK are now demanding

UK operators are lobbying for VAT breaks following Ireland’s success

similar assistance to reinforce growth in the British travel market. Te reason for the turnaround in Irish for-

tunes was explained by Michael Vaughan, president of the Irish Hotels Federation: “Te

government’s decision to reduce VAT, albeit by a small percentage, in July 2011, has pro- vided a stimulus for hotels and guesthouses.” Te news comes at the same time as the

Cut Tourism VAT campaign is rallying support in key UK tourism destinations. Details:

TripAdvisor shows most expensive tourism offers

Nottingham offers the cheapest city break in the UK and Edinburgh the most expensive, according to TripAdvisor. An evening out and overnight stay for two in

a four-star hotel in Nottingham costs £164.73, nearly half the price of a break in the UK’s

most expensive city, Edinburgh, which costs £298.46. When it comes to hotel prices across the 20 cities, Edinburgh has the most expen- sive average rate for a four-star hotel room, coming in at £207.51. Details:

UK inbound tourism strongest since 2008

The first half of 2013 saw record levels in spend and the strongest visitor num- bers into the UK since 2008, as inbound tourism continues to grow. According to new fig-

ures from the International Passenger Survey, Britain attracted 15.2 million visi- tors in the first half of 2013, a 4 per cent increase on the previous year’s figures, while people spent a record £8.7bn during the period. June became a record-

breaking month, with £1.84bn being spent by overseas visi- tors, who totalled 2.89 million for the month alone, with 1.22 million of those visitors com- ing to the UK on holiday. Te figures also convey more interest from developing markets,

Twitter: @leisureopps June’s record-breaking month saw £1.84bn spent by overseas visitors

with more than 500,000 visits recorded in June, while loyal, high-volume interest con- tinued from Europe, as visits from the EU15 markets rose. Details:

Read Leisure Opportunities online: 13

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