Businesses call for tax-free return as budget looms

By Benedict Evans |

Heathrow open letter

The open letter falls under the purview of the Tax-Free Shopping Campaign.

Heathrow (LHR), along with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), has issued an open letter calling on UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to introduce a new, internationally competitive tax free shopping incentive at this week’s Spring Budget (6 March).

The letter centres on the vital nature of tourism to the Scottish economy after research conducted by the Association of International Retail shows British shops have lost £1.5 billion/$1.9 billion per year; non-EU travellers are more likely to spend in France, Italy and Spain, where tax free shopping schemes are utilised.

“From manufacturers and retailers to businesses and hospitality venues, in towns and cities across Scotland – we would all benefit from a boost in visitor numbers and spend increase,” reads the statement, co-signed by an extensive list of interested parties including: Dr Liz Cameron CBE, Chief Executive the Scottish Chambers of Commerce; Andrew McRae, Scotland Policy Chair for the Federation of Small Business; and David Lonsdale, Director at the Scottish Retail Consortium.

LHR’s revenue from retail concessions rose to £257m in 2023, up 24.8% on 2022, but this has not stopped the airport from issuing a strongly worded letter regarding the state of tax free shopping within the UK.

The letter aligns with recent statements from LHR, as of 11 February, which state Britain has all but ‘shut the door on home grown growth.’

Over 100 business groups and their representatives were named, and in the post attached to the open letter, the undersigned added: “It would secure UK’s international competitiveness, win back billions in lost visitor spend, and provide a much-needed shot in the arm for local economies up and down the country.”

Stay close to TRBusiness for more…

READ MORE: Revenue from LHR retail concessions up 24.8% to £257 million in 2023

READ MORE: LHR sees 6m pax in January; presses case for tax-free shopping incentive

READ MORE: Roundtable and campaign takes aim at ‘tourist tax’


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