The return of the BOOZE CRUISE!

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

The return of the BOOZE CRUISE! Calais is planning to make whole city DUTY-FREE to entice UK shoppers across channel to take advantage of cheap alcohol and cigarettes post Brexit

Mayor Natacha Bouchart wants a tax free area that takes in the whole port city

EU rules outlawed duty free sales in 1999 to align nations in the single market

The UK and EU have until December 31 to agree a new cross-border regime



6 February 2020

Calais has launched an ambitious plan to woo Brits keen to take advantage of the return of duty-free shopping after Brexit, it was revealed today.

The Channel port’s mayor Natacha Bouchart wants a tax-free area created that takes in the whole city and takes sales away from the Eurostar and ferry terminals.

She wants to recreate the heydey of the 1980s and 1990s when millions of Britons crossed the Channel to stock up on cigarettes and alcohol and other cheap goods.

EU rules outlawed duty-free sales in 1999 and while shoppers could still travel to France to get comforts at lower prices than at home they were still more expensive than before.

The UK and EU have until December 31 to agree a new cross-border regime, which could bring back duty-free on cross-channel transport.

But the creation of a wider free port area could potentially spark a price war locally that could benefit buyers.

‘Our mayor is fighting for the whole town of Calais to benefit from the same duty-free rules as the ferries,’ said Philippe Mignonet, one of Bouchart’s deputies.

Calais authorities are also exploring the option of tax rebates that would allow visiting Britons to reclaim VAT on hotel stays and restaurant meals, Mignonet said, a move aimed at encouraging them to spend more time and money in the town.

EU rules allow private individuals to carry unlimited amounts of alcohol and cigarettes across the bloc’s internal borders provided they are not for resale.

But after Britain ended its 47-year membership of the EU on Friday, it now has until December 31 to negotiate a trade accord that will determine what tariffs, if any, Britain and the EU levy on each other’s goods, and caps to duty-free commerce.

Last year, as he sought to put pressure on the EU, Chancellor Savid Javid said that under a No Deal Brexit a holidaymaker could save more than £12 on two crates of beer.

Mr Mignonet said junior budget minister Gerald Darmanin had so far pushed back against the proposed city-wide duty exemptions for alcohol and tobacco in the town centre because of smuggling concerns.

‘I don’t think they’ll budge on those,’ he said, but added it could be applied to goods such as chocolate, perfumes and electronic goods.

The looming trade talks between London and Brussels will be closely watched by the owners of the cavernous wine stores dotted along the highway leading out of Calais, where signs are in English and prices quoted in sterling.

‘The worst case scenario? That would be to limit the huge volumes that British clients can take back with them to England,’ said Oliver Versmisse, owner of the Oliver, Vin et Compagnie store that overlooks the Eurotunnel terminal.

Several million Britons used to make day trips across the Channel every year during the heyday of the booze cruise, local officials say, before duty-free shopping ended in 1999 following the creation of the EU’s single market.

Its renaissance on board vessels and in the ferry terminal would be ‘very good for the port’, said Calais port director Jean-Marc Puissesseau, who is overseeing a 700 million euro expansion that will double the port’s capacity from early 2021.