The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has accused the Government of "tinkering with tourism's potential" ahead of the launch of its Tourism Strategy, expected later today.
The Government is expected to suggest moving the May Day bank holiday to the autumn and adopting "double summer time" in an effort to boost the tourism sector. But the FSB called the proposals "meddling at the edges" and called for more practical measures to help small businesses in a report called Tourism - a passport to growth.
In the report, the FSB set out its concerns that the funding Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) used to promote domestic tourism had disappeared following their replacement by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and that this would have "severe consequences" on tourism revenue in local areas.
It called on the Government to provide LEPs with the tools they needed to promote tourism throughout local areas and reinstate the level of funding RDAs gave to the sector.
It also urged the Government to consider offering local authorities incentives to encourage tourism. Currently, many are put off doing so because they have to spend money on maintenance, such as beaches and cleaning pavements.
And it suggested a tourism "Business Increase Bonus" - a mechanism which allows local authorities to keep a percentage of the business rates they collect in order to allow them to muster additional funds - would help local authorities to drive regeneration.
On efforts to boost domestic and international tourism, the FSB called on the Government to:
â- Reduce the level of VAT in the tourism sector to help stimulate the market
â- Reduce the regulatory burden on tourism businesses
â- Focus on growing inbound tourism from growth economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China
John Walker, national chairman of the FSB, said: "The UK is going to play centre stage in the coming years with events such as the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Champion's League Final and the Rugby Union World Cup all being hosted on these shores. This gives us a prime opportunity to up our game within the tourism sector and generate much-needed growth for the UK economy - especially in rural areas.
"However, the Government is merely tinkering with tourism and has yet to unlock its true potential. The tourism sector needs a real boost and we need to ensure funds remain where they are truly needed. Tourism really can be a passport to growth, creating jobs and growing our local areas. But we need the Government to put the right measures in place to unlock the true economic potential of the sector."
For more news later today on what the Government's Tourism Strategy contains, visit www.caterersearch.com.
By Neil Gerrard
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