Autumn Statement prompts mixed reception from Abta

Autumn Statement prompts mixed reception from Abta

Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement has received a mixed reception from Abta.

The association voiced concern over a new apprenticeship levy of 0.5% on company payrolls to raise £3 billion a year to fund three million apprentices.

However, the association welcomed the tens of millions of pounds of new funding for UK tourism promotion.

Yesterday’s spending review also included funds to support new regional air services.

The new apprenticeship charge will be imposed from April 2017 to help ensure large companies help fund the cost of training workers.

Abta head of public affairs, Stephen D’Alfonso, said: “Abta will assess the impact of the apprenticeship levy announcements made by the Chancellor.

“We are disappointed that the government has persisted with the 0.5% of turnover rate that was opposed by many businesses during consultation; however, we welcome the £15,000 allowance that has been introduced.

“As the levy is implemented it will be vital that proper sector governance measures are put in place.

“Abta will continue to closely monitor the levy, and to ensure the voice of the tourism industry is put forward in this debate to ensure a proportionate and fair approach.”

Commenting on the announcement that the government will invest £60 million a year to deliver the renewed GREAT tourism campaign, D’Alfonso said: “Tourism to the UK is a vital part of the economy, and has previously demonstrated the significant return on investment it provides.

“The government’s commitment of £60 million in renewed funding for the GREAT campaign and a new £40 million Discover England Fund are both positive announcements, and will be vital to ensuring that VisitBritain and VisitEngland can continue to support the industry particularly from a domestic tourism perspective.”

Meanwhile, Southampton airport welcomed funding to support new air routes to Munich and Lyon disclosed in the Autumn Statement.

Osborne also announced funding for new Norwich routes to Newcastle and Exeter and Dundee to Amsterdam, likely to be taken up by Flybe, together with Londonderry to Dublin and Edinburgh to Oxford.

Carlisle airport also hopes to be able to start routes to Belfast and Southend as a result of the new funding.

Osborne said: “The government is providing £7 million through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund to support new air routes promoting domestic and international connectivity and stimulating jobs and growth, including from Dundee to Amsterdam.”

UKinbound chief executive, Deirdre Wells, said: “We are delighted at the Chancellor’s decision to increase funding for tourism promotion across England.

“We have long been campaigning for increased investment in tourism which was a key plank of our #TourismABC manifesto.

“Our national and regional tourism boards are vitally important for our 350 members and the decision to increase marketing spend to £60 million per annum in support of the GREAT campaign, and to set up a new £40 million fund to promote tourism in England, will greatly help to enhance the key role that tourism plays in our economy.

“We also welcome the chancellor’s decision to maintain free entry for museums and support for the arts and cultural sector, which are crucial in attracting inbound visitors to the UK.

“The spending review results have paved the way for many exciting developments and we look forward to growing the industry even further in 2016.”


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