Hospitality and leisure industry leaders have demanded the removal of responsibility for UK tourism from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Seven chief executives, including Grant Hearn at budget hotel group Travelodge and Des Gunewardena at restaurant group D&D London, have today sent an open letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The letter, which has also been signed by bosses at the London Eye, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Bourne Leisure, Hoseasons, Merlin Entertainments and the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions, calls on Brown to place responsibility for tourism with the Department for Business.
Expressing their belief that tourism has the potential to be one of the strongest performing industries in the UK, the letter's signatories also state that tourism is, at present, being held back by a lack of support.
Grant Hearn, chief executive of Travelodge, said: "Tourism suffers from playing a lesser role in a department that concentrates on sports and the arts rather than having a business focus.
"With £350m being allocated annually for tourism promotion it is not a lack of money that is the problem, but a lack of focus."
John Dunford, chief executive of Butlins owner Bourne Leisure, added that Spain was an example of what government backing could achieve, with Barcelona becoming the fastest growing city in the world for tourism after the 1992 Olympic Games.
"Unless tourism is given similar credence in the UK it is doubtful that London 2012 will have anywhere near the same impact," said Dunford.
However, in an exclusive interview with Caterer to be published this week, tourism minister Barbara Follet says plans are in motion to bring back the inter-ministerial group for tourism, in a bid to better communicate the tourism industry's needs across government.
In the same interview, Follett's opposite number, shadow tourism minister Tobias Ellwood, said the Conservatives would oppose placing responsibility for tourism with the Department for Business, describing such a move as impractical.
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