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Tourism minister attacks quality of hotels and visitor attractions in UK

04 September 2008 by

Tourism minister Margaret Hodge has once again endeared herself to the industry she is supposed to be representing by attacking the quality of hotels and visitor attractions in the UK.

Hodge, who stormed out of a meeting at the House of Commons earlier this year after being criticised by tourism chiefs, also labelled the London Underground as "dreadful".

Speaking to Holiday Which? Magazine, the tourism minister said: "I agree that hotels are expensive and I worry about the quality."

She pointed out that only around half of all UK hotel accommodation was part of the star rating system set up by the AA and VisitBritain.

In a broader sweep at the industry, Hodge added: "Tourists need to be offered good deals and we have to make attractions better."

Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, hit back at her criticism of hotels.

"I just don't think that the analysis is right, I don't think the quality is poor," he said.

"That is not to say that there are not some poor quality establishments but the overwhelming majority are far better than they used to be."

For example, he said, VAT in France is 5.5% compared to 17.5% in the UK.

Guy Parsons, UK managing director at budget hotel chain Travelodge, joined in with criticism.

"Following the Chancellor's devastating comments on the economy (in a Guardian interview at the weekend), our tourism minister arrives with her very own version for our industry.

"Tourism must be seen as a leading contributor to UK plc but Margaret Hodge seems intent on damaging the industry's reputation. Tourism will only be successful if outdated rhetoric handed down from one tourism minister to the next is replaced by government action on policies and desperately needed funding."

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VisitBritain appeals for more investment in tourism >>

By Daniel Thomas

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