Title: «Tourist Tax Impact on West End Outweighs Cost-of-Living Concerns, Reveals New Data»

In anticipation of MPs debating the contentious ‘tourist tax’ this Thursday, the New West End Company, centered around London, has unveiled illuminating data shedding light on the detrimental effects of the absence of tax-free shopping on the majority of West End businesses.

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According to a comprehensive survey encompassing retail, hospitality, leisure, and dining establishments in the district, a striking 92% of these businesses have been significantly affected by the loss of the VAT Retail Export Scheme, a program that formerly enabled non-EU tourists to reclaim VAT at the airport.

Notably, these enterprises assert that the impact of this loss surpasses other prevailing challenges, including the cost-of-living crisis and inflation, both registering at 58%.

Even more alarming is the revelation that 54% of companies are presently reevaluating their future investment strategies within the UK (with 21% contemplating closures or capital reallocation to other nations), while 48% are reconsidering staffing requirements to efficiently manage costs.

Among those grappling with this issue, 72% have reported a decline in the overall number of visitors, with 89% noting reduced spending by international tourists. A striking 42% have witnessed a drop in the average transaction value.

These findings corroborate recent forecasts by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, suggesting that reinstating the scheme could potentially inject an additional £10 billion into the British economy annually and stimulate increased investment within the UK.

NWEC Chief Executive, Dee Corsi, underscores the substantial benefits of reintroducing the scheme (alongside extending it to EU residents), stating, «The Treasury has a unique opportunity to reintroduce tax-free shopping, which would yield a net positive impact on government tax revenues and provide a much-needed boost to economic growth. This move could position us as the sole major European shopping destination where 450 million European residents can shop tax-free, potentially unlocking an entirely new tourism market.»

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