Gov blamed for 'holding back' Britain's tourism industry

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Government, Finance

Gov blamed for 'holding back' Britain's tourism industry
The British Hospitality Association says the Governments withdrawal of financial incentives and a disjointed marketing strategy threatens the success of Britains tourism industry

The success of Britain`s tourism industry is being threatened by a lack of Government investment and a disjointed marketing strategy, the British Hospitality Association has claimed.

Speaking today at the Conservative Party summit on tourism in Brighton, BHA chief executive Bob Cotton said the Government had withdrawn financial incentives and funding from the industry at a time when they were needed the most. 

"The recession means that this investment is already slackening. Yet it is at this precise point that the industry needs tax and fiscal incentives to encourage continued investment in new hotels, in refurbishment and in additions and extensions," he said. "Ironically, Government actions have achieved the opposite result."

In addition, the BHA chief, also chairman of the Tourism Alliance, called for one main organisation to have responsibility for tourism. Although tourism is in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport`s remit, Cotton said it failed to place enough emphasis on the sector and claimed the large number of competing national boards and regional development agencies was confusing. 

"All are publicly funded but few bother to work - even to communicate - with each other. There is no national co-ordination. Some RDAs favour tourism, others do not. There is duplication of effort. Regional Tourism Boards have all but disappeared. Money is wasted. VisitEngland, representing a country which attracts three-quarters of all overseas and domestic visitors to Britain, has only just been set up."

With Britain`s hospitality industry expecting to experience an increase in trade from both domestic and foreign holiday makers this year, the BHA is pushing for backing from the Government to ensure it benefits fully. 

"We have to raise standards and raise the quality of our tourism offering even higher. We need more new hotels, more new restaurants, more new tourism facilities. We need existing facilities updated. We need to gain a reputation for a warm welcome that`s second to none," said Cotton. 

"If we can achieve this, UK tourism will prosper and will truly become the dominant industry of the 21st century."

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