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Tourism Industry

Volume 681: debated on Wednesday 30 September 2020

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on supporting the tourism industry in Northern Ireland. (906627)

I continue to work closely with colleagues across the Government and the Executive to support the tourism industry in Northern Ireland. The industry has benefited from financial support provided by the UK Government, including through the job retention scheme and the extension of the 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors. I welcome the new UK- wide Escape the Everyday campaign, promoting domestic tourism and promoting Northern Ireland across the UK as a great place to visit.

I thank the Minister for that response. Indeed, the lower VAT is helpful, but will he discuss with Treasury colleagues the potential benefit to Northern Ireland of extending that lower rate even further?

I absolutely recognise the point that my hon. Friend is making. The extension of the 15% VAT cut for hospitality and tourism to the end of March next year will provide vital support for the tourism industry through these challenging times. The approach taken by this Government is already one of the most generous and comprehensive globally, but we will continue to monitor the impact that the measures are having, to provide the necessary support for businesses and individuals. I know the Secretary of State will be meeting representatives of the hospitality industry later today.

In relation to Northern Ireland tourism, may I say that it has to compete not only on a world stage, but with the market from the Republic of Ireland and its predatory actions? It has been fast and loose in terms of using the opportunity of state aid, but in relation to air passenger duty, it has sucked the life out of our international trade to our international airports. What can be done in relation to using APD as a tool to help our tourism industry?

I absolutely recognise the competitive pressure that Northern Ireland faces, and it is something that I have discussed with hospitality and, indeed, the aviation industry in Northern Ireland. As the hon. Gentleman will know, the Treasury is looking into what can be done on the APD front, and we will certainly take on board the views of Northern Ireland businesses.