Alton Towers and Merlin Entertainments have taken the unprecedented step of admitting that the gate tariff for Alton Towers is very expensive – by telling guests just that as they pay. Signs have been installed over every pay kiosk which inform visitors of the higher VAT rates charged to leisure attractions in the UK when compared with rates in other countries, such as Italy and Germany – where leisure attractions pay up to 12.5% less tax than UK attractions on each guest.

BALPAA (the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions ltd.) held their annual summer conference at Europa-Park in Germany recently, and it is assumed that the subject of UK VAT rates for leisure attractions was high on the agenda. Thus, it could be that this is the beginning of a more visible campaign by the UK industry to lobby the government to reduce it.

If the difference in VAT was removed from the gate price at Alton Towers, the entrance tariff for a single on-the-day admission would lower to around £30.65 – which is comparable with parks such as Parc Asterix and cheaper than Disneyland Resort Paris. It would still however be significantly more than parks such as Phantasialand, Europa-Park and Gardaland.