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Merlin applauds UK theme park VAT cut and asks for permanent extension

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Merlin Entertainments has applauded Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement to cut VAT on hospitality, including theme parks and attractions, from 20 percent to 5 percent.

Sunak is cutting VAT on hospitality as part of a £30 billion plan to prevent mass unemployment as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

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 percent 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.”

Merlin CEO asks for permanent extension

“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,” added Varney.

Ticket prices on tourist attractions in the UK will be cheaper under the Chancellor’s six-month VAT holiday, which also applies to food and accommodation.

The tax will be cut on food in pubs and restaurants including hot takeaways, all holiday accommodation including campsites, B&Bs, cottages and hotels, and tourist attractions such as theme parks, paid-for exhibitions in museums and galleries, and cinemas.

The cost of tickets will be cut for major attractions, including Merlin’s Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds, Legoland Windsor, Chessington World of Adventures, The London Eye, and Thorpe Park.

Ticket costs cut on major attractions

The VAT cut, which will run from July 15, 2020 to January 12, 2021, is likely to benefit as many as 150,000 businesses.

It will cost the taxpayer £4 billion and the cut by 15 percentage points is the most generous VAT reduction in Europe.

Germany has cut its rate by three percentage points, while Belgium cut it by six percentage points (via The i).

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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