Ken Robinson, chairman of the Tourism Alliance, said the announcement by shadow chancellor George Osbourne that a Conservative government would support the tourism industry in this way was a pivotal moment in the acknowledgement of tourism as a substantial employer.
"Research by Pricewaterhouse¬Coopers indicates that there is the potential to gain a £2b tourism legacy from staging the Olympics if we market the country effectively," said Robinson. "This fund will help turn this potential into a reality."
While Osbourne did not say how much a Conservative government would put into an Olympic tourism marketing fund, the Tourism Alliance would like to see £20m earmarked for the purpose, which could then be match-funded by private industry.
Labour is similarly vague on funding. Last month tourism minister Margaret Hodge told an audience at Hotelympia that the industry needed to "provide the right welcome and service if it is to make the most of the massive opportunities provided by the 2012 Olympics", though the Government could not confirm whether further funding would be made available.
"The Government put an additional £20m into marketing the UK overseas to help the recovery of tourism following 9/11 and the foot and mouth outbreak," said Kurt Janson, policy director of the Tourism Alliance.
"This was match-funded by industry and resulted in a £44m fund, which was put into a very successful marketing campaign that brought in an additional million visitors and £500m revenue into the UK.
Chairman of VisitBritain Christopher Rodrigues told Caterer earlier this year that he wanted to see an additional £20m funding be provided to market the UK overseas to ensure that the London Olympics provides a lasting legacy for British tourism.
By Janet Harmer
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