Tourism Industry

Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons on 30th September 2020.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury

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

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

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.

Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury

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?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

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 on today.

Photo of Paul Girvan Paul Girvan Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Education), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport)

Secretary of State, 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?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

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 it is certainly something where we will take on board the views of Northern Ireland businesses.