Scottish skiing welcomes VAT cut

22nd March 2012, by Chris Gill

Cairngorm Mountain

Cairngorm Mountain

Scotland’s skiing industry has welcomed a VAT rate cut that ought to mean better value lift passes next winter.

The government announced the decision as part of the chancellor’s budget plans, which will cut the current 20% rate of VAT on ski lifts to just 5%. The new rate will start from 2013 and brings VAT on ski lift passes into line with the rest of Europe. It is a campaign that Scottish ski centres and local politicians have been fighting for almost a decade, and which we have highlighted previously.

Scottish centres were reported to be disadvantaged because of the UK system, which slapped the VAT rate onto ski lifts that were classed as private, rather than public, transport.

It was argued that the rules on VAT (dating back to the 1970’s) stated that only vehicles capable of handling ten or more people could be classed as public transport – and therefore exempt from the charge. But, unlike the rest of Europe, Britain interpreted individual seats on chairlifts as separate vehicles (which typically carry only three to four people each). This resulted in higher pass prices.

The new 2013 rate will apply to small cable-operated transport systems – which covers ski lifts in the five sites in Scotland (Nevis Range, Cairngorm, The Lecht, Glenshee and Glencoe).

It follows a disappointing season for Scottish ski centres, reporting fewer visitors this year due to a shortened winter and poor snowfalls. So it is seen as positive news ahead of next season. If pass prices are lowered, hesitant skiers and boarders may well be more willing to risk erratic snowfalls. Currently, when terrain there is limited in times of snow shortage, lift pass costs are comparatively expensive.

The previous two winters provided the opposite: bumper snowfalls and record visitor numbers. It will be interesting to compare charges for lift passes, when the 2013 figures are announced.



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