The VisitBritain executive chairman's criticism of the service levels offered in UK hotels and restaurants has been described as "spectacularly ill-timed".
In an interview published last Friday, Christopher Rodrigues condemned the "poor value for money" and "grumpy staff" in hotels and restaurants across the UK.
Although Rodrigues insisted his comments were "taken out of context", industry figures hit back, claiming the remarks were ill-timed and unfair, particularly as Gordon Brown was making a speech encouraging the tourism industry in the UK on the day the interview was published.
Gordon Campbell Gray, chairman of Campbell Gray Hotels, told Caterersearch: "I think it was spectacularly ill-timed, old fashioned, unsupportive, unhelpful and out of date. At a time when the industry is going through a hard time and the one positive thing is that more people might be coming to the UK because of the weak pound, we should be encouraging not condemning."
A spokesman for the British Hospitality Association agreed, saying that, although Rodrigues was right about value being important, his remarks only applied to a few "laggards" and were not the general standard.
"In an industry of over 50,000 establishments, there are bound to be some laggards - as in all industries," he said. "Undeniably, hotel standards have improved vastly in the last 20 years and the industry is currently investing £5b a year in new facilities."
David Weston, chief executive of the Bed and Breakfast Association, was also critical. "The Government should be trying to boost the industry as much as possible and only criticise behind the scenes to get below par hotels to raise their game," he said. "When the Government speaks, the main thing that needs to come across is that they value the tourism industry - they say they do but they need to show it."
UK tourism industry worth £114b>>
By Gemma Sharkey
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