The beach, complete with sand, deck chairs and sunbathers, was driven on a flatbed lorry to Whitehall, Downing Street, Parliament Square and College Green between 11.30 and 13.00 on 2 July to coincide with Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.
The Cut Tourism VAT campaign claims that cutting VAT on hotels and attractions would make Britain more competitive, generating over 120,000 new jobs and adding around £4bn to the UK’s economic output.
The public campaign has been backed by the Sun newspaper, which launched its own ‘Give US A Break’ campaign earlier this week.
So far, over 60 politicians across the UK have expressed support for the campaign. An Early Day Motion tabled two weeks ago by Margaret Ritchie, SDLP MP for South Down, has generated further support in Westminster, with 44 signatures so far.
The EDM calls for Chancellor George Osborne to introduce ‘introduce a sector-specific VAT reduction for certain tourism-related products, including accommodation and attractions’, recognising this would strengthen the economy, support job creating and generate investment in local businesses.
Margaret Ritchie, MP for South Down (SDLP), said: “London has benefited hugely post-Olympics, but towns right across Britain and Northern Ireland have a lot to contribute to the economic recovery. Cutting VAT on hotels and attractions will enable the many towns reliant on tourism to grow faster and support the excellent work the sector already does employing young and low-skilled people.
“Ultimately, we are an island and in an increasingly global marketplace we cannot continue to price ourselves out of the equation for tourists who may choose between Europe and Britain and Northern Ireland for their holiday. The high level of VAT at home also leaves us in the ridiculous situation where it’s cheaper for people in Northern Ireland and Britain to fly abroad – which is bad news for the environment, the economy and our balance of payments deficit.”
Graham Wason, chairman of the Cut Tourism VAT campaign, said: “Margaret’s efforts to highlight this important issue will echo support from every corner of the UK. It’s no coincidence that being an island makes ours a very tourist-focused economy which is why we need to overcome the startling anti-competitive stance we currently take.”