By Nigel Packer
The English Tourist Board (ETB) is fighting for the preservation of a national tourist organisation following Government confirmation that the board is likely to be abolished.
ETB chairman David Quarmby accepted that "change is on the cards", but hoped to persuade the Government of the need for a national strategic body of some kind.
"It's not about self-preservation from an ETB point of view, it's about what the industry itself and local authorities want," he said.
"Our starting point is not that the ETB should be preserved, but that it is vital to have a national, independent, strategic tourism body for England - a role we currently fill. Our Agenda 2000 consultation established the need for this."
The ETB favours one of four options put forward by Culture Minister Chris Smith - the replacement of the ETB with a new national private company, with separate funding provided by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for Regional Development Agencies.
The three remaining proposals are: the delivery of national programmes through a consortium of regional tourist boards; direction of all funding through Regional Development Agencies and the new Greater London Authority; co-ordination by the DCMS, supported by a committee from the Tourism Forum, with funding going direct to regional tourist boards.
Quarmby felt the strategic role "cannot be fulfilled effectively by a committee or Government department, or a conglomeration of competing regional bodies."
The consultation period ends on 2 October.