Businesses which benefit from the money spent on tourism promotion had been dismayed last month at reports that the Government was intending to cut the budget of VisitBritain by as much as 12 per cent.
However, yesterday Culture Secretary Maria Miller announced that the 2015/16 budget for VisitBritain will be just under £20m - a cut of just five per cent. VisitEngland will have the same amount to spend as it did in 2014/15.
Christopher Rodrigues CBE, chairman of VisitBritain, welcomed the news and thanked Miller and Sport and Tourism Minister Hugh Robertson for 'batting' for the tourism industry in a tough spending round which has seen the overall budget for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) reduced by £62m in real terms.
"This is a good result for us and clear evidence of Ministers' commitment to the tourism industry," he said.
"This Government understands the importance of tourism as one of the country’s leading export industries and a powerful engine of job creation," Rodrigues added.
The smaller than expected cut comes less than a month after Miller spoke at the second Hospitality & Tourism Summit held by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) where she was given the overriding message from businesses that the Government needs to take the fourth largest industry more seriously.
The Cut Tourism VAT Campaign expressed disappointment that Miller and VisitBritain had not made a reduction in VAT one of the aims of the strategy, but this week Rodrigues explained the focus would be on continuing its successful GREAT marketing campaign.
"Most of our marketing is now match-funded by industry partners including British Airways, easyJet, Expedia, P&O and Emirates," he explained. "This extends the impact of our overseas marketing programmes which help bring 31 million visitors to the country and earn our nation £18.6bn in foreign exchange.
We are also a partner in the cross-Government GREAT campaign with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).
"This year, the campaign will provide us with an additional £12m for tourism marketing in priority overseas markets. We know that there is enthusiasm and commitment right across Government for this campaign. It delivers an excellent return on investment and we have every expectation that it will continue to be funded through to 2016," he added.
VisitEngland, formerly the English Tourist Board and English Tourism Council, fared even better in the spending round - its budget was frozen.
"This is good news for English tourism," said VisitEngland chairman Lady Cobham. "Tourism in England is worth £97bn; however there is still great potential for further growth across the country.
"Since its creation, VisitEngland has worked hard to reduce over-heads and achieve efficiencies to ensure that as much of our budget as possible supports front-line services.
"Retaining our budget will help us to maintain our core activity that includes: supporting and stimulating local areas and their tourism businesses to deliver, manage and market a quality tourism product throughout the country; amplifying national campaigns at local level through the Regional Growth Fund; leading on national marketing campaigns; providing research and industry intelligence, business tools, and industry platforms to facilitate continual progress and sustained growth," she added.