Tourism Minister John Penrose has hailed Bath as a shining example to the rest of the UK’s holiday destinations.
Mr Penrose, who is also the Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare, visited the World Heritage city yesterday as part of a countrywide tour.
He is gathering ideas for a shake-up of the country’s tourism industry.
And after holding talks with the city’s tourism leaders at the jewel in Bath’s crown – the Roman Baths – Mr Penrose declared himself impressed by what he had seen and heard.
He described the way Bath’s hoteliers and attractions worked with the council as a fine example to the rest of the country.
The city is marketed by Bath Tourism Plus, a partnership which brings together the public and private sectors.
“There are a number of places in the UK where we are doing things well and Bath by any estimate is one of the best in the country,” Mr Penrose said.
“I’m here to find out what we can apply in other parts of the country.
“Here in Bath they get the local tourism businesses involved with the council. It’s a real public-private partnership with everyone pulling together.
“They are all contributing money and skills – and that’s rare.
“Across the country we want to improve the partnership between the public and private sectors and that’s where Bath is so good.”
Mr Penrose, who also visited the Thermae Bath Spa and the new SouthGate shopping area, met officials from Bath Tourism Plus, senior figures from Bath and North East Somerset Council and those who run the city’s attractions.
The minister revealed he intended to boost the west’s tourism sector by making it easier for would-be foreign visitors to negotiate the visa red tape surrounding visits.
“I want to make it easier for people from China and India to get visas so they can come to brilliant locations like this,” he said.
“We have already taken off the shackles that stopped councils from making the decisions for their locality.”
Mr Penrose will also visit Cumbria, Yorkshire and other major city destinations to assess the state of the industry before formulating a domestic tourism strategy aimed at making the sector more profitable.
His visit to Bath came hot on the heels of a similar trip by VisitEngland chairman, Lady Cobham. During her visit in June, she discussed working with Bath as a prime example of best practice within the industry.