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A cut in VAT on lift tickets in Scotland (and apparently for operators of indoor snow centres and dry slopes across the UK too) was among the small print of the British Government’s 2012 budget this week.
Ski areas in Scotland have been campaigning for over a decade to have the purchase tax on lift tickets reduced to rates in line with other countries with ski areas in Europe. Other forms of public transport has a zero rating for VAT – including the funicular railway that is the key uplift at Cairngorm, meaning it will benefit less from the VAT cut that the gondola at Nevis Range, which perversely had the full VAT applicable on tickets.
In fact the VAT cut for lift tickets – from the standard 20% to 5% - is actually better than in some major ski nations. The former rate of 5.5% in France was recently increased to 7% by the French government for example.
The reduced tax rate is due to come in to effect in 2013 – although exactly when in 2013 has not been specified. Scottish ski areas are yet to comment on whether the tax drop will result in a price drop in ticket cost to skiers and snowboarders or whether the money not paid in tax will be spent instead on improving facilities on the slopes.
Other facilities with ski lifts in the UK including the six indoor snow centres and 60+ dry slopes may see some benefits, but early indications are that while welcome, they’ll be small. The operators of several indoor snow centres said that the lift operation cost was a comparatively small part of their overall admission fee.