Park News

Nick Varney responds to cut in tourism VAT A

s part of the UK government’s £30bn plan to save jobs, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced earlier this month a VAT cut to 5% for accommodation and attractions – from 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021. The reduced

(5%) rate of VAT applies to supplies of accommodation and admission to attractions across the UK. There will also be a temporary cut in VAT to 5% for food and non-alcoholic

drinks – which will apply to supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises across the UK. Commenting on the news, Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments said:

“We have been campaigning for a cut in tourism VAT for almost twenty years. Over the long term we believe it will deliver cheaper UK holidays for residents and attract more overseas visitors, boosting our export earnings. In the short term the cut to 5% announced today will enable hard pressed tourism and hospitality businesses to recover some of their losses from three months of closure and the impact of reduced capacity for the rest of the year. It is therefore a very welcome step and we would urge the Government to retain it in order to reap the long- term benefits for all.”

Soft Play Mascots descend on Westminster

More than a dozen mascots representing indoor soft play centres from across the UK descended on Westminster on Thursday 16 July in a desperate bid to save their businesses. The mascots were joined on Parliament

Square by owners, staff and young families, who are all urging the government to provide clear guidance on when and how they can re-open. A recent survey undertaken by BALPPA, the

trade body representing British leisure parks, piers and attractions, revealed up to two-thirds of the country’s indoor play centres are facing permanent closure within weeks. On Friday 10 July, BALPPA, which has more than 400 members and

represents over 180 indoor play centres, started an emergency online petition urging prime minister Boris Johnson to rescue the indoor play industry from closure. To date it has attracted over 16,000 signatures. “Last week the indoor play industry was dealt the latest devastating

blow in the COVID-19 crisis when they were once again totally overlooked in the government’s re-opening plans,” said Paul Kelly, BALPPA chief executive. “Over the past month, more than 20 of our members have gone out

of business. A survey we conducted among our members showed that nearly two-thirds of the remaining centres will permanently shut by October. “The financial support given by the chancellor earlier this month,

while welcome, can only add value to those businesses that are allowed to reopen. Without further financial support, the very future of this entire sector is at risk. “The indoor play sector already has COVID-secure guidelines signed

off by the Health & Safety Executive, Public Health England and the Government. All they’re asking for is for a clear timetable of when they can re-open,” he added. In addition to the damage being done to businesses, BALPPA is

also receiving feedback from young families concerned at the potential long-term damage being done to their children’s health and wellbeing.



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