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Government must take ‘decisive action’ to save tourism, industry body warns

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Government must take ‘decisive action’ to save tourism, industry body warns
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A considerable number of tourism-related jobs are at risk unless the Government takes “decisive action” to support the industry, a leading trade body has warned.

The call by the Tourism Alliance came after official figures revealed that far fewer British people holidayed in the UK in August 2008 than in the same month in 2007.

For August, the number of overnight trips dropped by 11%- equivalent to 1.7m fewer trips – with spend down by 9%.  For the year to the end of August, overnight trips dropped by 3%.

Bob Cotton, chairman of the Tourism Alliance, said: “Domestic tourism is on the slide. Unless decisive action is taken to support it a considerable number of tourism-related jobs will be at risk.”

The Tourism Alliance is calling on the Government to introduce two key measures of support:

1) “Review existing and proposed legislation to see where costs to tourism businesses can be reduced.  Proposed regulations on employment, food labelling, service charges/tipping, and licensing will lead to additional costs that businesses can ill afford.  The increase in Air Passenger Duty, announced in the Pre-Budget Report, will deter people from visiting the UK just at the time we need to boost tourism.”

2) “Instead of cutting back Government funding for tourism promotion, which has happened, new public/private sector campaigns are needed to stimulate demand and take advantage of the fall of the value of the pound.”

Cotton pointed to the Spanish government’s recent announcement of a financial package of assistance to its tourism industry worth €400m.

“Spain recognises the value of its tourism industry which is hardly the case with the UK Government,” he said. “Implementing these two measures would go a long way towards protecting the UK tourism industry.  Without them, tourism revenue will fall and job losses will multiply.”

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By Daniel Thomas

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