October 2021 - Part Two

Dear Supporter,

This is the second of our two-part AIR activity update. Earlier this week, Part One covered AIR’s Party Conference activities as a soft launch for our three key campaigns.

This week we publish our Budget Submission which summarises the three campaigns. It points out that strong recovery in international retail sales is vital if the Government is to achieve its ambitious target of returning international visitor numbers and spending in the UK to 2019 figures by 2023.

Thank you again to everyone who has contributed to make AIR a strong focus for campaigning on the issues that are so important to a strong international retail sector.

Best wishes,


    Jace Tyrrell

AIR Budget Submission

IR outlines three-point plan for boosting international visitor spending in Budget Submission to Chancellor

AIR’s Budget submission stresses the importance of shopping to the recovery of the UK’s international visitor economy.  At over £6bn in 2019, retail sales accounted for around 25% of all spending by international visitors, the largest single area of spending.

AIR told the Chancellor that Britain’s attractiveness to international shoppers was falling compared with our European neighbours and proposes three measures to help restore Britain’s competitiveness:

  • Enhance the UK visitor visa product and process to match recent Schengen improvements
  • Exempt Britain’s two International Centres from outdated Sunday trading restrictions
  • Conduct an independent assessment of the full impact of ending tax-free shopping, as requested by the Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, to take account of VAT lost as well as predicted gains.

You can read AIR’s Budget Submission to the Chancellor here.

The aim of the submission was to outline formally the three key AIR campaigns.  Over the coming months, AIR will use this to drive the main visa and tax free shopping campaigns.

AIR Campaigning

AIR launches Visa Campaign
AIR has agreed on a full campaign to persuade the Government to reduce the burden of visitor visas whilst maintaining the security of Britain’s borders.

AIR is proposing to:

  • Enhance the Electronic Visa Waiver Scheme in GCC states
  • Extend the Electronic Visa Waiver Scheme to other high spending markets, for example, China.
  • Introduce a standard 10-year visitor visa, as countries like the USA have done, for Chinese visitors, as was promised by David Cameron at President Xi’s visit in 2015.
  • Introduce a visa for the families of international students studying in the UK that lasts as long as the student visa to encourage parents to visit their children multiple times during their studies.
  • Expand the joint Schengen/UK visa application process in China – currently a pilot with Belgium - to Schengen countries with larger numbers of visitors, such as France, Italy and Germany.

AIR will be meeting ministers and officials in the coming months to promote these ideas.

AIR partners with Global Blue to coordinate the collection of Tax-Free Shopping data
Global Blue is coordinating a programme to establish a robust system for the collection of data necessary to support the campaign to restore or replace high street and airside tax-free shopping.

The systems will be in place in time to collect a full year’s data in 2023, the target year set in the Government’s Tourism Recovery Plan for returning international visitor numbers and spending to the 2019 level.

Please contact AIR if you would like to join the Data Collection Working Group

AIR joins ONS IPS Working Group
AIR has been invited to join the Office of National Statistics Working Group exploring improvements to the International Passenger Survey which provides the Government with annual statistics on international visitor numbers, markets, spending and activities. Sunday trading is still in the AIR
AIR is supporting and promoting New West End Company’s ongoing campaign to exclude the two International Centres (The West End and Knightsbridge) from Sunday opening restrictions.  New West End Company estimates that this measure would add over £250 million in additional sales each year in the two districts.

New AIR briefing shows the importance of international retail to UK economy
Click here to download AIR’s new briefing, with facts and figures to support the growth of our sector.

AIR Board Members

AIR’s new board includes

  • New West End Company
  • Value Retail
  • Cadogan
  • Shaftesbury
  • Marketing Manchester
  • Essential Edinburgh
  • Global Blue
  • Heathrow Airport

Become an AIR Member

AIR is seeking new corporate members at Board, Advisory Council and Standard membership levels.

Your support enables us to campaign on key issues for the future growth of international shopping sales.

To find out more about supporting AIR, contact Charlie McAllister at info@internationalretail.co.uk