UK tourism chiefs have accused the ConDems of missing a golden opportunity to create 236,000 jobs by boosting Britain’s holiday trade.
Instead of cutting sky-high taxes such as VAT and air passenger duties, which are putting visitors off coming here, ministers instead chose to tinker with bank holiday dates.
Plans to move the clocks forward all year round to create a “permanent summertime” have also been axed.
Tourism minister John Penrose yesterday outlined plans to bring forward the May bank holiday to St George’s Day (April 23) in England and to St David’s Day (March 1) in Wales to extend holiday seasons.
They also want to encourage more Brits to take their breaks here to boost the industry which employs 1.4 million people and is worth £90billion to the economy.
But a British Hospitality Association report said cutting VAT on hotel rooms to 6.5%, as they have in Germany, would help create 236,000 jobs over the next five years and boost visitor numbers. Chief executive Ufi Ibrahim added: “The high rate is making UK tourism very uncompetitive.”
Kirk Kinsell of the Holiday Inn hotel group IHG said: “Why should a hotel guest in the UK pay three times more tax than in Germany?
“We’re in danger of missing out on an opportunity to create 236,000 new jobs. Britain has just come bottom out of 133 countries for price competitiveness. We need urgent action.”
Before the election, David Cameron pledged to boost tourism insisting it “presents a huge economic opportunity”.
But Thomas Cook boss Manny Fontenla-Novoa added: The Government has let this industry down, again.”
And the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, added: “The one thing which would have cost nothing, moving the clocks to bring us into line with Europe, was passed up.”
The other idea for the May Day bank holiday is to move it to October to extend the summer.