Government berated:’Stop taking tourism for granted’


(eTN) – Britain’s tourism chiefs are up in arms over what they consider the fragmented approach to selling the country to holidaymakers at home and abroad. And, furious with a “lacklustre” Department for Culture, Media and Sport, they are calling for tourism to be moved to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

The DCMS, which has announced an 18 per cent funding cut for the national tourist board, VisitBritain, is accused of not coordinating promotions properly.

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Much of the DCMS’s tourism responsibility is delegated to regional development agencies. But Nick Varney, whose business owns the London Eye, argues that only a few RDAs take tourism seriously. “It’s about the completely lacklustre performance of the DCMS,” he said. “It’s a second division department championing a first division industry.”

The tourism deficit the difference between the money spent by overseas visitors and what Britons spend abroad has risen 1.2bn this year to 19.3bn. Meanwhile, overseas residents’ visits to the UK were down 10 per cent this summer compared to 2006.

The industry is calling for VAT to be cut on hotels and attractions, to make the UK cheaper. “We take tourism for granted, which is a mistake,” said InterContinental Hotels boss Andy Coslett. “[Other countries] take it seriously, while we in Britain seem to be doing the complete opposite.”