The European Tour Operators Association recommends that the UK join the Schengen visa scheme to “double our income for newer markets”  and that tax levels need to change if the UK is to increase its inbound tourism.

ETOA has drawn up recommendations for boosting inbound tourism in response to prime minster David Cameron’s speech last week in which he said he wanted to see the UK in the top five tourist destinations in the world (See previous blog here).

The organisation says tourism should have higher status in government, it also attacked cuts on VisitBritain’s promotional budget.

Executive director Tom Jenkins said: “VAT should not apply to exports. Tourism is an export but the creation of holidays in the UK for visitors from abroad is subject to VAT – that’s clearly disadvantageous to tourism exports.

“However, the creation of holidays for UK residents outside the EU is free of VAT – the VAT regime is insane because there is a massive tax incentive to holiday abroad. This urgently needs to be changed.”

Current Visas to the UK are charged at £68 with forms to be filled out in English, whereas it said we’d become more competitive if the UK joined the Schengen system. 

“Anyone buying a Schengen visa (at a cost of €60) gets 25 countries to visit. If we could accept that visa, then we could start to double our income from newer markets.”