The Government's decision not to allocate additional funding to promote the 2012 Olympic Games has been labelled as "short-sighted and damaging".
In the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review, the Government announced that VisitBritain funding for 2008-11 would be cut by 18%, but it left the door open for a one-off payment to help the tourism agency market the 2012 Olympics.
However, in the House of Commons yesterday, tourism minister Barbara Follett ruled out such a payment. The move raises real doubt over the predicted £2.1b tourism legacy for the 2012 Olympics as experts said this boost would only follow if adequate funding was provided to market the Games
Bob Cotton, chairman of the Tourism Alliance, said the decision highlights the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's lack of understanding of the tourism industry and of its wealth and job creating potential to the UK economy.
"Billions of pounds are being poured into the infrastructure for the Games yet the government cannot find funding, however small, to market and promote what is the biggest sporting event in the world," he said.
"Other industries are being bailed-out with massive financial support yet tourism, which employs more than two million workers, is being ignored. At the recent tourism summit, Gordon Brown asked how government could support the industry. We now have the answer: No support at all."
Guy Parsons, UK managing director at budget hotel group Travelodge, was also critical of the decision.
"Far from being the once in a life time opportunity that the Government first promised, the 2012 Games now look like they will not deliver on any of the objectives first set out," he said.
"A long-lasting tourism legacy was the dream but this appears to have fallen at the first hurdle. Unless the Government actively supports the UK tourism industry and helps promote the 2012 Games as a showcase for the UK then the Olympics will ultimately be seen as a wasted opportunity."
Caterer is interviewing Barbara Follett and wants questions from you.
By Daniel Thomas
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