Tourism minister defends cuts to tourism funding

12 November 2007
Tourism minister defends cuts to tourism funding

Tourism minister Margaret Hodge has defended the Government's decision to cut VisitBritain funding by 18%.

The move, announced by the Department for Culture and Sport (DCMS) last month, caused outrage in the hospitality and tourism sector with industry leaders suggesting the DCMS had "lost the plot" and showed a "lamentable lack of understanding".

But speaking at the World Travel Market exhibition in London, Hodge denied claims that the Government fails to recognise the economic importance of tourism when setting policy.

"No one is questioning the importance of tourism, or the professionalism of VisitBritain as a marketing organisation. But we've decided we have to redirect some resources into other areas," she told Caterer sister title Travel Weekly.

Hodge said the DCMS wants to tackle the duplication between what Government spends on marketing and what local authorities, the Regional Development Agencies and devolved administrations spend. It also wants VisitBritain to focus its efforts on new and expanding markets, she added.

The tourism minister also firmly ruled out implementation of a bed tax, which was mooted in the Lyons Inquiry into local government spending earlier this year, but quickly rejected by the Government.

"This is not a good idea," she said. "The industry would be hit hard, and tourism brings important benefits to local communities in terms of jobs and money."

The Government's decision not to proceed with the proposals marked the successful end of Caterer's year-long "Say No To Bed Tax" campaign.

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By Daniel Thomas

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