Since 2021, UKTRF has worked cross-industry to make the case for a reversal of the decision to remove the VATRES and end airside tax-free shopping. It also led the campaign to stop the imminent decision to remove tax-free shopping for international tourists in the run up to the UK’s departure from the EU.
As part of the September 2022 ‘mini-Budget’, the Government announced that tax-free shopping would return by 2024-25. This was met with much excitement from UKTRF members and the wider industry.
Unfortunately, this decision was reversed after the Government repealed the majority of its Budget package. This means the UK remains one of the only major economies in the world without a tax-free shopping system for international visitors. It is the only country in Europe not to offer such a scheme.
It is well documented that tax- and duty-free systems can influence the choice of destination for some passenger groups, such as Chinese, American and Middle Eastern tourists. While we appreciate and respect the Government’s emphasis on economic and fiscal responsibility, UKTRF and its members believe that tax-free shopping brings many more economic benefits in relation to tourism and retail spend than it costs the public purse.
UKTRF urges the Government to support the travel retail industry and the UK economy, through policies like tax-free shopping, that provide sustainable and self-sufficient support for businesses and travel hubs. Alongside the retail, tourism and hospitality industries, we hope that tax-free shopping for international tourists will make an eventual return, for both high-street and airside sales.