by Mary Williams
A tourism deficit of £3.1b last year will be revealed today by the British Tourist Authority (BTA) in its 1994 annual report.
The deficit means more money was spent by UK residents overseas than by people on holiday in the UK. Over the past nine years the deficit has been steadily growing. Prior to 1986 the UK made a net profit on tourism.
In addition, the UK's share of the world tourism market, a rapidly growing industry, has fallen by more than a third over the past 14 years - from 6.7% in 1980 to 4.3% in 1993. According to the BTA the USA, France, Spain, Italy and Austria all earn more from tourism than the UK.
If Britain had maintained its 1980 share of the market, more visitors to the UK would be spending an additional £9b a year and at least 150,000 more jobs would exist, says the BTA.
The BTA's efforts to counter the deficit have not been helped by a 35% cut in Government funding for the English Tourist Board over three years. Devaluation also means that the BTA's budget has effectively been cut. Another factor is an increase in Britons holidaying abroad.
The BTA is planning to tackle the problem with an aggressive marketing campaign, spearheaded by managing director Anthony Sell.
A spokeswoman said recent BTA campaigns were helping to reverse the slide. In 1992 the deficit was at £3.352b.
The deficit and decreased market share are partially disguised by the general boom in the tourism industry. Last year the UK attracted a record 19.2 million visitors, who spent £9.2b - up from £8.8b the previous year.