Tourism contributes about 10% of our GDP, is worth £67 billion a year to the nation’s finances, and supports over 1.5 million jobs in this country.
As the Tourism Minister I am firm in my support for this sector. Some voices on the Left have called for a new tax. A so-called ‘tourism tax’ which would levy tourism companies and hotels with an extra tax and thus cost consumers more to enjoy the great sites we have in this country.
This is also an initiative being looked at by the Government of Scotland, where under the current Nationalist leadership people in Scotland are already taxed more than anywhere else in the UK.
I believe a new tourism tax would be a retrograde step. Such a measure would raise prices and reduce tourist numbers and therefore threaten jobs in this country.
I took the opportunity to put my thoughts on the matter on the record during the five-weekly Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) questions in the House of Commons. The session is an opportunity for all MPs to ask DCMS ministers like me questions relating to their ministerial responsibilities. When asked about a tourism tax I made the point that with a growing sector like tourism, we should be encouraging visitors and not putting them off. During the session I was also asked about arts education and I pointed out that it is this Government which is investing £500 million in cultural education between 2016 and 2020.
You can watch the questions asked of me and my answers using the following links: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/ffed1aa7-713e-4e1a-b08a-d0b6a73d3713?in=09:52:00&out=09:59:09 and https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/ffed1aa7-713e-4e1a-b08a-d0b6a73d3713?in=10:09:35&out=10:11:18 and https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/ffed1aa7-713e-4e1a-b08a-d0b6a73d3713?in=10:17:59&out=10:18:51.