The 2012 Olympics could boost UK hospitality by more than £2b - but only if the Government overhauls its tourism strategy and backs it up with proper funding, industry has warned.
In their submissions to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) consultation on the legacy of the London games, which closed last week, hospitality leaders called on Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell to back up rhetoric with action.
Launching the consultation in July, Jowell said the 2012 Olympics represented a "unique opportunity to take our tourism industry to the next level". But budget hotel chain Travelodge warned that the potential benefits were "neither inevitable nor automatic".
The company called on the Government to reverse its nine-year freeze on tourism funding, by committing to substantial spending increases over the next five years, and to scrap plans to impose a 7% cut to VisitBritain's budget in next year's Comprehensive Spending Review.
Travelodge wants to see a full-time tourism minister and a dedicated annual Olympics marketing budget for VisitBritain in the region of £20m.
The Tourism Alliance also called on the DCMS to increase VisitBritain's funding, to allow the tourist board to undertake effective domestic and overseas marketing campaigns in the lead-up to the games.
"A cut in funding will make it almost impossible for VisitBritain to even maintain routine overseas marketing activity in the lead-up to 2012, let alone undertake the additional marketing activity required to achieve the £2b target," the alliance said.
Travelodge chief executive Grant Hearn said: "We need to see Tessa Jowell's words matched by explicit actions, and that includes hard decisions on spending, tourism strategy and infrastructure development. Tourism is the future for Britain and we must embrace every opportunity to move forward."
The British Hospitality Association highlighted the issue of recruitment and training, calling on the DCMS to implement a quality induction process for the estimated 70,000 hospitality workers required and to build up People 1st's Skills Passport programme.
By Daniel Thomas
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