British Hospitality Association (BHA) chief executive Ufi Ibrahim has accused the Government's Tourism Strategy, published today, as being "long on vision but short on implementation".
Ibrahim said she was pleased that the Government showed its commitment to the hospitality, leisure and tourism sector with the report but was concerned that some of the policies, which include empowering local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships to support tourism, may not be implemented.
"While the strategy is long on vision, it appears to be short on how that vision will be translated into reality," she said.
She warned that the Government had given very little detail on how LEPs would be structured and financed. "It's very difficult to see how effective LEPs will be for hospitality and tourism, and that's a significant risk to the industry's latent potential for regeneration and job creation in precisely those areas of the country where it is most needed."
She was also concerned that the Strategy made little mention of the high VAT rates the industry was facing: "VAT has become one of the most pressing issues facing the industry. The present high rate is making UK tourism very uncompetitive. In the latest World Economic Forum Global Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Monitor, the UK ranks 133rd out of 133 countries in terms of price competitiveness.
"So we are spending £100m on seeking to attract 4m additional visitors to the UK just at a time when the UK is bottom of the international price competitiveness league. This serious price disadvantage also encourages potential staycationers to vacation overseas.
"This is completely counterproductive to the Prime Minister's objective to grow domestic tourism from 36% to 50% of total tourism spend by UK residents - an objective which we heartily applaud. We need far more action on this issue than the strategy seems willing to deliver."
But she was more welcoming of the Government's proposals on an industry task force to cut red tape, and a commitment to improve staff and management skills across the industry.
By Neil Gerrard
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