Domestic tourism is set to boom in the coming months following the relaxation of lockdown measures in England. In a bid to further stimulate the sector, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that VAT would be slashed on accommodation including hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites.
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Along with the VAT saving, experts have revealed that there is one simple way holidaymakers can ensure they get the best deal on their holiday stays.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel has pointed out that while price comparison sites may make it look like they are shining a light on the cheapest options, they could have hidden costs associated.
“With the government announcing a VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism industry, lots of holidaymakers will now be considering a UK trip for their next break – so it’s a good time to remind anyone booking a hotel or B&B to always book direct for the best deal,” explained the expert.
“Customers shouldn’t be duped into thinking they’re getting the best price from a hotel booking site when more often than not, they can get a better deal by avoiding its commission and booking directly with the hotel.”
Instead, he suggests going directly to the business itself.
Mr Boland continued: “Hotel booking sites might be a good place to start your search, but you should always call or email the hotel for the best chance of getting the cheapest deal – even in cases where they can’t offer a better price, there’s a good chance they’ll throw in a freebie or two.”
Research conducted in March of this year found that, compared with some big-name price comparison sites, in eight out of the 10 instances, the hotels were able to offer a better deal, with one hotel offering a £20 discount – saving 12 percent of the cost of the same room booked online – as well as a free upgrade.
He added: “Even if they can’t knock anything off the price, you’ll usually get a room upgrade or a bottle of fizz thrown in for free.”
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The Which? expert also explained that going directly to the hotel can actually provide a massive boost to small or local businesses.
“Additionally, booking direct means hotels and B&Bs don’t have to pay commission on the booking, meaning more of your money goes towards supporting local businesses,” he said.
The way in which you contact the establishment can play a part too.
Which?’s 2020 research also discovered that it is usually more expensive to book a hotel room online than booking directly by phone or email.
Yesterday’s announcement by the Chancellor will see tourists paying just five percent VAT as opposed to the standard 20 percent.
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Mr Sunak said: “First, at the moment VAT on hospitality and tourism is charged at 20 percent.
“I’ve decided for the next six months to cut VAT on food, accommodation and attractions.
“Eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs, accommodation in hotels, BnBs, campsites and caravan sites, attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos – all these and more will see VAT reduced from next Wednesday until January 12 from 20 percent to five percent.
“This is a £4billion catalyst for the hospitality and tourism sectors benefitting over 150,000 businesses and consumers everywhere, all helping to protect 2.4 billion jobs.”
It is welcome news for Britons, who are already gearing up for plenty of UK holidays.
According to Skyscanner’s latest customer survey, 65 percent of travellers believe the domestic travel situation is getting better.
Jon Thorne, traveller expert at Skyscanner said: “With this new incentive, many who were considering travelling this summer will be galvanised to do so, and many who weren’t considering it will be prompted to plan potential trips.
“As a traveller-first business, we welcome any change which empowers people to explore and make memories with their loved ones, something we have all been looking forward to.
“We have seen pent-up demand turn into action, with the UK beginning to embrace travel again, and we’re already seeing a sharp rise in interest in international travel as well as domestic getaways.
“As a member of the travel industry, we are delighted to see encouraging signs for our partners who have reacted swiftly to a changing landscape with new measures to protect their guests.”
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