HomeFashionLondon Fashion Week bosses - who also represent Mulberry, Marks & Spencer...

London Fashion Week bosses – who also represent Mulberry, Marks & Spencer and Kurt Geiger – joins chorus of voices calling on political parties to scrap tourist tax

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  • The British Fashion Council is backing levy-free shopping for foreign visitors
  •  Conservatives have refused to listen to pleas to ditch the 20 per cent tax
  •  Caroline Rush said the UK is the ‘least competitive capital for retail in Europe’

The organiser of London Fashion Week is the latest name to urge both political parties to pledge to scrap the tourist tax.

The British Fashion Council, which represents a slew of top UK fashion designers, has said it is crucial that the next government restores tax-free shopping for international visitors.

Bosses of firms including Mulberry, Marks & Spencer, Kurt Geiger and Selfridges have already said ditching the levy would turbo-charge the economy.

The Mail has been campaigning for the levy to be reversed – with hundreds of businesses backing an open letter organised by hotelier Sir Rocco Forte.

Caroline Rush, of the British Fashion Council, which represents a slew of top designers, has said it is crucial that the next government restores levy-free shopping for international visitors

The Conservatives have refused to listen to pleas from business to ditch the tax, which was introduced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when he was Chancellor in 2021.

It means shoppers pay 20 per cent more for goods in the UK than in neighbouring countries like France and Italy.

Caroline Rush CBE, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said: ‘The withdrawal of VAT free shopping for international visitors in the UK has made London the least competitive capital city for fashion retail in Europe, and businesses here are feeling that.

If the future government is truly ‘serious about growing the economy,’ then it should ‘immediately move to reinstate this vital tourism incentive to unlock economic opportunity in the fashion and retail sectors,’ she said.

A spokesman for the BFC added: ‘The UK is now the only major economy in Europe not to offer tax-free shopping to overseas visitors. This places UK fashion designers, retailers and manufacturers at a significant competitive disadvantage compared to other markets.

‘The scheme must be restored to ensure competitive parity with neighbouring nations.’ 

The levy is costing the economy more than £11billion a year, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, as tourists who come on shopping trips also splash out on hotels, restaurants and theatre trips.

The BFC also wants to see business taxes reformed to boost traffic into physical shops as well as more investment into arts subjects at school.

Caroline Rush of the British Fashion Council, said: 'The withdrawal of VAT-free shopping for international visitors has made London the least competitive capital for retail in Europe'

Caroline Rush of the British Fashion Council, said: ‘The withdrawal of VAT-free shopping for international visitors has made London the least competitive capital for retail in Europe’

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