Marble Arch BID boss supports Mayor’s call for tax-free shopping

1st February 2023 | Jack Oliver

The chief executive of Marble Arch London Business Improvement District (BID) has backed calls from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to reinstate tax-free shopping for international visitors.

The Mayor sent a letter to the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday night with the backing of major retailers including Selfridges and Burberry.

The scheme, which allowed foreign visitors to claim back VAT paid on purchases, was scrapped after Brexit but reconsidered in the Government’s autumn growth plan. Plans to reintroduce the scheme were then reversed in October. The Treasury estimated the scheme would cost the Exchequer £1.3bn in 2024/25, increasing to £2bn in 2025/26.

Executives from the Ritz Hotel and Heathrow Airport are amongst other figures backing the Mayor’s letter.

Supporters of tax-free shopping believe it will make the UK a more attractive place for foreign tourists and encourage growth.

In his letter, Sadiq Khan wrote: “Our rich ecosystem of shops, hospitality venues, and cultural attractions, is heavily dependent on both domestic and international tourists.

“That is why together, London’s business groups and I have repeatedly called on the Government to support the return of international tourists back to London, in what is a highly competitive international market, by reinstating tax-free shopping for overseas visitors and also extending this to EU visitors.

“The return of VAT-free shopping would provide a much-needed boost to London’s retail and hospitality sectors at a time they need it most.”

Kay Buxton, the chief executive of Marble Arch London BID, added: “We support the Mayor of London’s call for the return of tax-free shopping for international visitors. We felt the Chancellor missed a trick at the last Budget by not reintroducing tax-free shopping for international visitors as this is one area which would have made a huge difference for not only the retail industry, but for leisure and hospitality businesses as well.”

Buxton also cited research from the Association of International Retail which said that the reintroduction of tax-free shopping would have brought in an additional 1.6 million visitors in its first full year.


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