Ministerial appointments welcomed by hospitality trade bodies

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

John Wittingdale: with culture secretary Sajid Javid celebrating the reduction in beer duty
John Wittingdale: with culture secretary Sajid Javid celebrating the reduction in beer duty

Related tags: Tourism vat, Tourism, Bha

Trade bodies have welcomed the appointments of the two ministers given responsibility for tourism under the new Government.

Both VisitBritain and the British Hospitality Association (BHA) have lent their support to the selection of John Whittingdale as secretary of state, and Tracey Crouch as minister with responsibility for sport and tourism.

Both will work within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

VisitBritain’s chief executive Sally Balcombe said she was looking forward to working with both ministers to “deliver economic growth and jobs across the nations and regions of Britain”.

She said: “International tourism is the UK’s seventh-largest export industry by value, and our third-largest service export.

“It is a global sector in which Britain continues to compete on the world stage, so increasing the value of tourism can play a vital role in any long-term government economic plan.”

Regional commitment

Balcombe also welcomed the Government’s commitment to grow the value of tourism outside the capital.

She explained: “We start from a good position – the last two years have seen almost all parts of the UK grow faster than the capital.

“In the first nine months of 2014, visits to London were up six per cent while visits to Scotland and Yorkshire were up 12 per cent and to Wales up 14 per cent.”

The BHA commended the decision to appoint two MPs with experience on the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, and said it will hopefully lead to positive momentum for the industry.

As the former chairman of the committee, Whittingdale has previously said that the Government should look into measures that would reduce regulation and taxation burdens to boost the tourism industry’s contributions to the UK’s economy.

Recognition failure

Following the conclusion of the Tourism Inquiry, in March 2015, the Committee highlighted the Government’s failure to give the tourism industry sufficient recognition and support.

It agreed with the BHA’s recommendations​ that a cut in tourism VAT could have a positive effect on the industry and called on the Government to give it full consideration.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said: “We commend the appointments of ministers who are knowledgeable of our industry to lead the DCMS. With the recent Tourism Inquiry report serving as a great foundation, we look forward to working closely with John and Tracey especially in leading the delivery of the Inquiry’s recommendations to reduce tourism VAT, improve the speed and cost of visas and to diversify and strengthen the Tourism Council.

Ibrahim added: “The time has come for the hospitality industry to be empowered to help our economy reach its potential with more jobs, visitors and tourists across the UK.” 

  • According to Visit Britain, the UK welcomed 34.8 million international visitors in 2013, up by 17% since 2010. Altogether they spent £21.7bn – up 29 per cent on 2010). These visitors directly supported 500,000 jobs, and contributed almost £7bn in tax revenues last year.

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