The Government has been attacked for following a policy of almost total neglect towards tourism by the editors of the Good Hotel Guide (GHG), whose 2013 edition is published today.
Adam Raphael and Desmond Balmer, who jointly edit the guide, said that despite the prime minister's promise on his election that tourism would be a priority, the coalition had failed to invest in the sector, with the resulting loss to the country of billions of pounds and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
"Though tourism is Britain's sixth-largest industry, employing one in 11 of all people working in the UK, and contributing £100b to the economy annually, it no longer even rates its own minister," they explained. "This year the tourism budget was cut by a fifth, wasting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity provided by the Queen's Jubilee and the Olympic Games, despite an estimated 30 to one payback for each pound invested. Reflecting its low political status - there have been 10 junior tourism ministers in the past 14 years - tourism doesn't get a mention in the title of its sponsoring department, Culture, Media and Sport.
"Neglect of the hospitality industry is a major reason why Britain's share of the world holiday market has declined by 40% in the past 30 years and an annual balance of payments deficit of nearly £20b.
"We are missing a golden opportunity to develop an industry which has the potential to grow by 60%, contributing nearly £200b to the economy by 2020. At present, even the impoverished Caribbean island of Aruba spends more to attract American tourists than does Britain."
The new Good Hotel Guide has announced that hotelier and television presenter Ruth Watson is the winner of one of its coveted César awards.
Watson, who established her television career handing out acerbic advice to often less-than-professional hoteliers in The Hotel Inspector and more recently has appeared on Country House Rescue, was given the award for the Crown and Castle, Orford, Suffolk, which she runs with her husband, David, and their partner-manager, Tim Sunderland.
"The Crown and Castle is a model of the kind of independently owned hotel that the Good Hotel Guide seeks out," Balmer and Raphael said. "Inspectors and readers alike have told us this year about the cheerful service, the ‘regal pampering', and the excellent cooking."
The Good Hotel Guide nominates 10 hotels - all outstanding in their own class - every year for the award, named after celebrated hotelier César Ritz.
The full list of César award winners this year is:
B&B newcomer of the year: NumberThirty Eight Clifton, Bristol
Cornish hotel of the year: The Old Quay House, Fowey
Newcomer of the year: the Feathered Nest Country Inn, Nether Westcote
City hotel of the year: Jesmond Dene House, Newcastle upon Tyne
Pub-with-rooms of the year: the Black Swan, Ravenstonedale
Dining pub of the year: the Stagg Inn, Titley
Scottish hotel of the year: Boath House, Auldearn
Welsh inn of the year: the Felin Fach Griffin, Felin Fach
Irish country house of the year: Salville House, Enniscorthy
Suffolk inn of the year: Crown and Castle, Orford, Suffolk
Special César awards have also been given this year to four hotels - two in England and two in Ireland - which have had an entry in every edition of the Good Hotel Guide. They include: Rothay Manor, Ambleside; Lastingham Grange, North Yorkshire; Currarevagh House, Oughterard; and Ballymaloe, Shanagarry.
The Good Hotel Guide 2013: Great Britain & Ireland is now available, price £20.
By Janet Harmer
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