UK falling behind EU rivals on tourist spending after duty chances

Financial Times Daniel Thomas 07.03.22 Britain is losing its position as the favoured destination for high spending international tourists to the EU after the government abolished tax-free shopping at the start of last year, according to a new study. Global Blue, the tax-free shopping refund agency, compared the behaviour of Gulf state tourists in the EU in 2019 with their … Read More

Bosses beg Rishi Sunak to bail out TfL after threat to axe Tube lines

The Times 05/12/21 AIR joined eighty business and charity leaders to urge Rishi Sunak to extend his Covid-19 bailout to Transport for London this week to avoid derailing the government’s levelling up agenda. The financial lifeline the chancellor threw to TfL during the pandemic ends on Saturday and, without a solution, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has warned that one of … Read More

How the UK became the sick man of European tourism

CNN 13/11/21 A spokesperson for the UK’s Association of International Retail told CNN that the axing of the scheme is predicted to lead to a drop of 38% in retail sales to non-EU visitors, compared to 2019 — a loss of £1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) to the economy. But that’s not all. “There are also likely to be indirect losses as high-spending … Read More

Tax-Free Sales, The Traveler Experience, And The Airport Financial Model

Forbes 09/03/2021   Paul Barnes CEO of the Association of International Retail (AIR) tells “Tax-free sales, apart from in Hainan, are virtually zero across the world right now because there is not much international travel due to the pandemic. When travel resumes, high spenders who travel a lot will choose to shop in Paris or Milan and skip Britain for … Read More

Bye, bye tax-free shopping

National Herald India18/12/20 “Madrid, Milan and Paris are rubbing their hands with glee at this self-inflicted wound,” said Paul Barnes, head of the Association of International Retail. “If we charge a fifth more for the same goods, international visitors will not hesitate to switch their city breaks to other countries”. Read the full article here.

U.K. Tax-Refund Repeal Is a New Headache for Retail Property Owners

The Wall Street Journal24/11/20 “I thought that the point of Brexit was that we were going to become more competitive,” said Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of the New West End Company, which represents some 600 businesses in central London, including Nike Inc., Apple Inc., and Ralph Lauren Corp. “This is going to affect not just London but regional cities like Edinburgh which rely on tourists.” Read the … Read More

In Britain, Watch Sellers Shocked at End of Sales Tax Refund

The New York Times19/11/20 “We’ll have Chinese visitors, because the market is growing, but they just won’t be spending money here” said Paul Barnes, chief executive of the Association of International Retail in Britain. “They’ll come and visit the U.K., but they’ll wait until they get to France to do their shopping.” Read the full article here.

End of VAT refunds would deter Chinese UK visitors

China Daily25/09/20 Paul Barnes chief executive of the Association of International Retail said: “Chinese visitors are by far the biggest international shoppers in the UK and shopping is the main reason they visit. If Britain ends its tax-free scheme, Chinese travellers are much more likely to visit any other European country for shopping. At a time when the British tourism … Read More

Retailers On Collision Course With U.K. Treasury Over Abolition Of Tax-Free Shopping

Forbes23/09/20 The Association of International Retail (AIR) says that one reason the U.K. government is dropping tax-free shopping is that the current paper-based validation system used by the tax department, HMRC, would not be able to manage VAT refunds once they become available to EU tourists from January. EU travellers account for 70% of all U.K. visitors. AIR’s CEO Paul … Read More