Hotel industry figures are calling for a more structured approach to the way the government promotes the UK tourism industry, following a report criticising its management of the sector.
According to the Backing UK Tourism: Destination Recovery](https://cms.thecaterer.com/app/uploads/easid-22631.jpg) report, commissioned by the - British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Travelodge, industry growth is held back by government mis-management despite tourism being the fifth largest sector of the UK economy, employing 1.4 million people and generating revenues of £86b.
The report warned that passenger numbers to the UK have deteriorated by 18% between 1997 and 2007 and the industry has the second worst balance of trade tourism deficit in the EU.
Dr Adam Marshall, BCC director of policy, said that while tourism would play a key role in Britain's future economy, the industry needed better support from government to reach its full potential.
"This is a sector which can rapidly create jobs, even in the current economic conditions, yet it suffers from an extremely confused support structure," he warned.
Harry Murray, managing director at Lucknam Park hotel in Bath and former Hotelier of the Year, told Caterer the Government had a responsibility to promote the UK and Ireland, not just certain parts of the country.
"Every member of the Confederation of British Industry benefits from a good tourism industry and it's a major contributor to reducing unemployment figures. Ministers need to recognise the potential of the industry and make the necessary reforms, which will help underpin the UK's economic recovery," he said.
Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels, agreed: "We all understand that individual regions need their own tourism support but the big picture seems to have been missed by this and previous governments."
VisitBritain estimates that by 2018, if managed properly, tourism could grow into a £113b industry with 164,000 more jobs, emphasising the need for government support but not necessarily extra investment.
The tourism industry is currently co-ordinated by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with 100 public sector bodies operating in 'isolation without clear co-ordination or vision from the centre' according to the report.
The Treasury allocates £350m annually to support tourism, but the report found that DCMS only has direct influence over £50m and recommends the responsibility for tourism be given to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills instead to ensure better co-ordination of funding.
By Janie Stamford
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