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Carmichael: ‘Extend VAT reduction to help tourism businesses get back on their feet’

Alistair Carmichael MP.

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has spoken out in support of measures designed to boost the tourist industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Carmichael again highlighted the need for an extension of the reduced rate on VAT for tourism beyond January, and referenced the need for greater local decision-making to ensure a strong recovery.

Mr Carmichael said: “I wish to pick up on the reduced VAT rate, as I have been campaigning for that for many years. It is a welcome move, but it requires a more open-minded approach from the Treasury to see it extended.

“It is due to run until January next year, but we are talking about people who have come out of six months of winter this year, when they were earning very little, and then been closed down for most of what would be their economically productive season.

“They will be going back into their quiet season again, with a view to going back into their full productive effort next year, by which time the benefit of a reduced VAT rate is not going to be there. The case for a continuation of the VAT reduction period is strong.”

Following conversations with hoteliers in the Northern Isles, he said the frustration at the lack of decision-making was “loud and clear”.

Mr Carmichael continued: “There are so many different ways in which we do not control our own destiny. As we begin to rebuild the visitor economy, in the Northern Isles and elsewhere, the one plea I make to Government in London and in Edinburgh is that the communities that rely on the visitor economy should be given the power to do that for themselves.

“They are the people who know best what they need. Give them the tools to rebuild our tourism industry and they will do the job for us.”