Foot and mouth disease has added to the “litany of woe” for UK tourism, according to Cheaperholidays.com. The organisation warned that it saw no prospect for improvement in the second half of the year.
It urged immediate action from the Government to reduce or rescind the “pernicious” Air Passenger Duty and remove the Full Cost Recovery requirement from UK visas that has created a distorted visa regime.
“Sadly, none of the issues that look like blighting this year for inbound tourism, with the notable exception of the shambles that is Heathrow airport, are even remotely within our control,” the body representing more than 250 companies selling UK tourism abroad said.
Recording a marginal 1.2% rise in visit arrivals in June – the lowest increase for a year – a forward bookings had suffered a “significant drop”.
The organisation said: “Due to the high cost of operating any business here and the punitive level of taxes and charges levied on visitors to the UK we are simply unable to compete for these customers without our businesses incurring unsustainable losses.”
It added: “If the cost of visiting our country is significantly higher than our competitors in an extremely price sensitive market consumers will simply choose to go elsewhere.”
Cheaperholidays applauded the Government’s “swift and decisive” response to the foot and mouth outbreak in Surrey and the measures put in place to help domestic tourism businesses following the recent severe flooding.