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VAT-free shopping must return for London's prosperity

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said:

“The removal of VAT-free shopping for international visitors is effectively a tax on tourists and we have seen London’s international competitiveness and attractiveness take a dramatic nosedive as a result. London is now seen as 20% more expensive than its European counterparts and in turn the tourism industry is losing out, which will have a long-lasting effect on London’s economy.

“London is a global tourist destination, with rich cultural institutions and a diverse and vibrant retail scene, attracting around 30 million visitors every year. VAT-free shopping serves as a powerful catalyst of London’s economic growth – it is an incentive for international visitors to choose London over other capital cities, benefiting hotels, restaurants & bars, entertainment venues and our transportation network.

“The economic cost of the scheme is minute compared to the overall economic gain of increased numbers of tourists spending more money in the UK, especially in our capital. VAT-free shopping is a no-brainer for London’s prosperity, and the Government must reintroduce it immediately to avoid driving tourists away from London.”


Additional statistics

  • London is the gateway to the rest of the UK
    • 40% of international visitors to Scotland arrive via London and stay in London at the beginning or end of their trip
    • 20% of the annual £3.5 billion tax-free sales are made outside of the capital
  • A recent Oxford Economics Study into the impact of tax-free shopping in the UK suggests that the full impact of the policy on Treasury revenues would be a net positive of £350m each year