Following the announcement of the strategy today, in which Tourism Minister John Penrose suggests a raft of measures to boost tourism, including erecting a red tape task force and creating a national “UK Day”, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has expressed its concern over how certain policies will be fulfilled, if at all.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said that although the strategy was welcomed overall, details surrounding the organisation and funding of Local Enterprise Partnerships and Destination Management Organisations in particular were vague.
“Government has given very little detail about how they will be structured and financed and how supportive of tourism LEPs will be,” she said. “Yet tourism is the economic driver of many regions of the country.
“As a result, it’s very difficult to see how effective LEPs will be for hospitality and tourism, and that’s a significant risk to the industry’s latent potential for regeneration and job creation in precisely those areas of the country where it is most needed.”
She added that although the private sector is currently facing high costs and VAT rates, too many policies were being left to the industry to handle.
“But is government leaving too much to the private sector, without any funding or any indication of specific government action to support the strategy’s implementation?”
Reduced costs ignored
She also criticized the Government’s lack of support for industry calls to reduce VAT for the sector.
“VAT has become one of the most pressing issues facing the industry. The present high rate is making UK tourism very uncompetitive. In the latest World Economic Forum Global Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Monitor, the UK ranks 133rd out of 133 countries in terms of price competitiveness.
“So we are spending £100m on seeking to attract 4m additional visitors to the UK just at a time when the UK is bottom of the international price competitiveness league. This serious price disadvantage also encourages potential staycationers to vacation overseas.
“This is completely counterproductive to the Prime Minister’s objective to grow domestic tourism from 36 per cent to 50 per cent of total tourism spend by UK residents.”
For more information about what the Tourism Strategy includes, click here.