Great Portland Estates boss joins call for rethink of tourist tax

One of Great Portland Estates’ London developments (GPE)
One of Great Portland Estates’ London developments (GPE)

The chief executive of London property developer Great Portland Estates has joined the growing list of City voices calling on the government to consider scrapping the ‘tourist tax’.

GPE is best known for offices, but it also has a number of retail sites including on Bond Street.

CEO Toby Courtauld said footfall has improved around the group’s West End properties but on average it is not fully back to pre-Covid times.

Many bosses have recently raised concerns about the impact on retail from the government abolishing VAT-free shopping when Britain left the EU in 2021.

Courtauld told the Evening Standard: “Anything that can help remove the barriers to trade we should be considering. We would absolutely support the reinstatement of tax-free shopping. It may well lead to a higher tax take for the Treasury through higher economic activity.”

GPE has cheered solid demand for its flexible office space, said it plans to develop more of it, and it anticipates rents for prime office space will rise over the next 12 months by 3% to 6%.

However, the value of its total estate dropped 6.6% to £2.4 billion in the year to March 31 It was impacted as higher interest rates pushed up property yields, which move inversely to prices.

In the results update Courtauld said: “During a year marked by elevated political and economic uncertainty, we have delivered a strong operating performance with record leasing, positive rental growth and resilient financial results.”