Reduction in VAT rate to 5% – what is an attraction?

In a measure to encourage people to support the beleaguered leisure, tourism and hospitality sector, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a temporary VAT rate of 5% which will apply to food and non-alcoholic drinks served in restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar venues and to hot take-away food and hot take away drinks. The measure also applies to supplies of accommodation and admission to attractions across the UK. The reduced rate came into effect on Wednesday 15 July, and will continue until 30 September 2021.

HMRC guidance has been issued and we also have just received the underpinning VAT legislation.

The reduced rate can be applied by businesses that make supplies of admissions that are currently taxable at the standard rate. This includes:

  • Shows
  • Theatres
  • Circuses
  • Fairs
  • Amusement parks
  • Concerts
  • Museums
  • Zoos
  • Cinemas
  • Exhibitions
  • Similar cultural events and facilities

Examples provided by HMRC of where the reduced rate may apply could be attractions such as:

  • A planetarium
  • Botanical gardens
  • Studio tours
  • Factory tours

There will be many other instances in which the reduced rate can apply to the admission charge. It does not include any supplies that are exempt from VAT and the temporary reduced rate does not apply to admission to sporting events or participation in sporting activities. 

This temporary reduced rate applies to the admission fee and any goods supplied at the same time, as long as they are ‘incidental to the main supply’.

There are lots of examples already amongst our clients of attractions which qualify for the reduced rate and a conversation to clarify matters will always be worthwhile.

We have also created a fact sheet and have other blogs in this series.

If you have any questions in regards to the above content, please contact Colin Johnson at 01539 729727 or email