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Ritchie Says UK Government Must Reduce VAT For Businesses In Tourism And Hospitality Sector
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SOUTH Down Margaret Ritchie (SDLP) has criticised the UK government for failing to follow the lead of the Irish government in reducing the VAT rate for businesses that operate in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Ms Ritchie said: “The Irish government took the positive step of cutting the vat rate for the tourism sector to 9 per cent to pump prime the market.  They have had extremely encouraging results with receipts up and over 9,000 jobs created off the back the measure. Summer tourism numbers increased by nearly 150,000 in 2013 by comparison with the same period the previous year and visitor numbers were up from January to July 2013 by 18 per cent in comparison with the same period three years ago.

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“The reaction from the industry to the possibility of the rate returning to its old level shows just how effective this measure has been and how short-sighted it is for the UK Chancellor to reject such calls.

“I would point out that even if the rate were to return to 13.5 per cent in Ireland as has been discussed, this is still significantly lower than the UK rate which we are faced with in Northern Ireland which remains one of the highest in Europe.

“Tourism is the bedrock of our economy in South Down and across the north and more needs to be done to stimulate growth in the sector. I have already tabled a parliamentary motion on this issue and will be raising it again when parliament returns in October,”  added Ms Ritchie.