If I ruled the world…

28 January 2011 by
If I ruled the world…

Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels, outlines what he would do if suddenly placed in charge of the country's tourism promotion.

Caterer has indulged those of a creative disposition many times, such as the compilers of "fantasy brigades" in which any chosen figure may be included in the creator's ideal kitchen team, whether dead or alive. Not being a chef myself I have other fantasies and have recently indulged one line of thought in particular, namely what I would do if suddenly placed in charge of this country's tourism promotion.

As there are so many different organisations involved there are naturally vested interests everywhere. The way that funding is distributed to the national, regional and local bodies causes endless argument and the coalition Government's efforts to control spending overall are bound to threaten some of these.

Unfortunately, this means the discussion is mostly about funding - who gets what - and scarcely at all about the actual task of promoting Great Britain as a destination.

So, to return to the fantasy, I am now the imaginary minister for tourism. I have a budget of £50m to play with and a small team of experts to do all the work for me.

Fancying the idea of a nice long golfing break I decide to make just one phone call and take the rest of the year off. The call is to a well-known advertising agency, let's call it Smarty & Smarty, in which I ask them to take over the marketing of Great Britain to the rest of the world.

They can use whatever market intelligence they like and place advertisements in any form they deem suitable, based on their long experience of marketing global brands successfully. I give them a budget of £40m and keep £10m aside for redundancies. Job done.

While I'm on the golf course there are hysterical calls for my resignation, which I can ignore because Smarty & Smarty have promised me a nice non-exec directorship when the time comes. Caterer is deluged with angry letters about the demise of VisitScunthorpe and its kin. The shadow minister uses strong language on television to describe my behaviour, comparing me with unloved leaders of the banking world.

Twelve months pass like this until the office for national statistics reports the number of foreign visitors to these shores. It's the biggest increase in a generation. The hotel and catering trade is praised for its contribution to the national economic recovery. Ufi Ibrahim is made a dame and a working group from Tourism Australia comes over to learn from our success.

As Shakespeare put it, "such stuff as dreams are made on".

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