In advance of this Westminster Hall debate focusing on tourism in the predominantly rural areas of Devon and Cornwall, the Countryside Alliance offers this briefing giving some background information and its views on promoting tourism in rural areas nationwide. Rural tourism in England contributes over £13 billion per year to the economy, making up a substantial part of the overall £97 billion value of tourism in England. It makes a significant contribution to the rural economy, supporting village shops and services, jobs and businesses. The UK is one of only four countries in Europe not to take advantage of a reduced rate of VAT which means British families or international visitors holidaying in the UK pay almost three times as much VAT compared to a German break, and twice as much as one in Italy, France, and Spain. At the last Budget it was announced that in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors would receive a 50 per cent business rates discount in 2022-23, up to a maximum of £110,000. The business rates multiplier was also frozen in 2022-23. The Budget also cut duty rates on draught beer and cider by 5 per cent to support pubs, taking 3p off a pint. The retail, hospitality and leisure sectors received further attention in the 2023 Autumn Statement, delivered on 17 November. Relief rates for businesses in the sector were raised from 50% to 75%, again up to a maximum value of £110,000. In addition, business rates set to rise in April following revaluation, it was announced that there would be a new 5-year, £13.6 billion transition fund and the rates multipliers would be frozen in 2023-24 at 49.9 pence and 51.2 pence, preventing them from increasing to 52.9 pence and 54.2 pence. For small businesses losing eligibility for relief, the increase in their annual bills will be capped at £600. The Treasury estimates that the support package for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will save them a total of £2.1 billion, with around 230,000 properties across the country set to benefit. It also maintains that the freezing of the business rates multipliers will be worth £9.3 billion over the next five years, whereas the support package for small businesses will be worth over £500 million over the next 3 years and protect over 80,000 small businesses losing some or all eligibility for relief. To read the briefing in full, please click here. If you would like to help the Countryside Alliance stand up for rural businesses and communities, please consider joining today.