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The strategy sounds good, but will it work?

11 March 2011 by
The strategy sounds good, but will it work?

Plans to abolish the first May bank holiday and replace it with something altogether more patriotic such as St George's Day ensured John Penrose a high national media turnout for the Tourism Strategy launch last week.

But if Fleet Street's finest (and Caterer) thought they were going to catch the Tourism Minister out with some curveball questions, they were left disappointed. He had clearly prepared.

So when one hopeful hack asked where he was holidaying with his family this year the answer was simple: Cornwall, the same as last year. It was an assured, considered performance.

The strategy itself makes a similarly convincing case (see pages 6 and 7). Nothing, we are told, is more important to the UK's economic recovery than tourism and hospitality.

There are some sensible suggestions in there, too. Few would argue with the notion that red tape could do with a snip here, a slash there. But the sector is a big beast, affected by many different regulations guarded by different departments. Do Penrose and company have the clout to reach across Government and sweep away the pointless ones?

Meanwhile plans to have "messier" boundaries for tourism bodies, defined by businesses, are also common sense. But how are they to work when we still know little about how local enterprise partnerships are to be structured and funded?

And although there was never likely to be any immediate promise to slash VAT to 5%, given the state of Government finances, a recognition of the industry's campaign on the issue and a pledge to consider proposals on new reliefs carefully are both welcome. But will the Government make good on its promises, or is this just an attempt to keep an increasingly vocal lobby quiet for a while?

Only time will provide the answers to this and other questions. But if the industry wants to slay any of its own dragons and cement its place in the nation's heart, we will have to keep a close watch.

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