The letter comes just days after the release of a report commissioned by Travelodgewhich investigated how the UK tourism industry has performed during what is the longest double-dip recession since the 1950s.
That report revealed that, while tourism has been ‘resilient’ and outperformed the general economy over the past five years, it now ‘deserves the chance to show its full potential’ as one of the fastest-growing industries in the UK.
Today’s letter therefore details a ‘10-point plan’ for developing a tourism industry capable of creating jobs and leading the economy out of recession to sustained growth.
Hearn said: “Our 10-point plan is about awakening the potential of the sector and positioning tourism as a key element of a successful and sustainable economic recovery. I welcome an opportunity to discuss this proposal with Mr Cable and his Department.”
The 10-point plan:
- Move tourism higher up the Government’s agenda, with the first step being to move the industry to where it belongs – the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation. DBIS has both the authority and responsibility to ensure that tourism can flourish.
- DBIS to take responsibility for setting a national strategy and policy which includes introducing performance targets and better collaboration across the industry.
- Reinstate a full time Minister for Tourism post.
- Create a united tourism working party with the Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government, Northern Ireland Assembly and the Mayor of London.
- Develop a dedicated plan and regional tourism fund to help the national tourist boards develop a “Londonand beyond” strategy that considers where investment in regional tourism can deliver the strongest results.
- Assess the business case for regional tourism zones that enjoy allowances on capital expenditure and investment in new projects
- Ring-fence funding for hospitality apprenticeships to drive growth and jobs in the sector.
- Simplify the visa process for visitors from emerging markets, especiallyChina. Some steps have been taken recently, which is good news, but a lack of further action will cost jobs, growth and investment.
- Reduce the current VAT rate of 20% for the hospitality industry to 5% in line with our European neighbours. This will create 236,000 jobs by 2015, 475,000 jobs by 2020 and annually boost the economy by £150 million.
- Target the investment industry especially companies who invest in pension funds and savings plans to invest in tourism business ventures as an alternative long term investment.
At present, Europe and the USA are leading the way in attracting visitors from emerging BRIC markets. For every one Chinese tourist who visitsBritain, eight go toParisand ten visitAmerica. On average, a Chinese visitor spends £1,600 whilst in the UK.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) added: “Across the UK, thousands of hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants, businesses small and large, depend on the Government to back them.
“Our industry has the potential to create over 200,000 jobs in the UK by 2015. All the evidence shows that our tourism and hospitality industry is a success story in this recession.
“There are measures that Government could take which would create more employment and boost the economy - such as cutting tourism VAT to 5 per cent and the on-going initiative to improve the tourist visa process. It is essential that there is a more co-ordinated approach for tourism in government."