The campaign to reinstate UK Tax Free sales just got a significant boost from an unexpected source.
The powerhouse UK tabloid – The Daily Mail – has jumped on the bandwagon with its own campaign to bring back Tax Free shopping to the UK, rather incongruously dubbed “Scrap the Tourist Tax.”
Just to remind you, on January 1, 2021, the UK government eliminated Tax Free sales, whether at airports or through VAT refunds. Industry lobbying, legal challenges, and economic impact studies failed to persuade the government to change its mind. That is, until the short-lived Liz Truss Premiership. Then-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng reinstated Tax Free sales in September 2022. However, that decision lasted 25 days and was quickly reversed by the new Rishi Sunak government and its Chancellor James Hunt. Both of whom continue to be impervious to industry argumentation.
The entry of a heavyweight like the Daily Mail will significantly alter the dynamic behind the campaign. That can already be seen in relation to an economic impact study published last November. This study showed the positive impact of Tax Free shopping on tourist arrivals and the economy. At the time, it didn’t get much traction. But The Mail is now breathing new life into it by quoting extensively from it.
In addition, The Mail also says it’s mobilized 200 business leaders behind its campaign, and other papers, like The Guardian, seem to be coming on board.
Great News for Travellers
If the campaign is successful, that’d be great news for travellers. The UK has one of the best retail offers in Europe, whether on the high street or at Heathrow Airport. Also, Heathrow offered much better Tax Free pricing than some other airports, particularly Paris.
So let’s all hope the campaign succeeds.