he introduction of duty-free shopping on arrival at airports, international rail and ferry terminals would support economic growth and boost tourism, a Tory MP has said.
Henry Smith, who represents the Crawley constituency which is home to Gatwick Airport, urged the Government to “act swiftly” to achieve “this additional Brexit freedom”.
He said the plan is under “active consideration” by the European Commission and introducing it first would be “the only way that we would be able to level that field”.
It is clear that the introduction of arrivals duty-free stores would support economic growth and provide a timely boost to the recovery of aviation travel and tourism from the pandemic
Speaking during an adjournment debate in the Commons, Mr Smith said: “We know that over 60 countries have now implemented duty free on arrival, including most major travel hubs in Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, as well as fellow non-EU countries.
“If the EU implemented arrival duty-free stores before we do, it would have a very detrimental effect on British ports of entry.”
He added: “Such a plan for arrivals duty-free is under active consideration by the European Commission as part of the directorate-general taxation and customs union review into travel and tourism taxation.
“Introducing arrivals duty-free would be the only way that we would be able to level that field.”
Mr Smith went on: “It is clear that the introduction of arrivals duty-free stores would support economic growth and provide a timely boost to the recovery of aviation travel and tourism from the pandemic. It is a plan that would be funded by industry and at worst cost-neutral for the Exchequer.
“It’s a low risk and proven success in some 65 countries around the world already.
“There would likely be no impact on domestic high streets’ sales due to limited market overlap and differing customer behaviours in duty-free stores.
“By introducing duty-free stores on arrival, the Government can reaffirm its commitment to supporting the aviation travel and tourism sectors and the economic prosperity they afford through employment to so many of my local constituents and communities across the entire country.
“Popular with the electorate too, so I hope the Government will act swiftly to achieve this additional Brexit freedom.”
Responding to the debate, Treasury minister Victoria Atkins said: “We keep this policy under review and I’m very happy to meet (Mr Smith) to discuss this further.
“But we would need very strong evidence to assure us that high street duty-paid businesses would not be disadvantaged by a policy of duty-free on arrivals before we were even to consider any such changes.”