Hoteliers attending the Master Innholders' annual hotel general managers' conference at London's Savoy hotel have been urged to hold the Government to account for the pledges they have made to support the tourism industry.
Sandie Dawe (pictured), chief executive of VisitBritain, said that while the Government had shown that it was serious about tourism with regards to helping grow the economy, it was important that the delegates "engaged the tourism minister John Penrose by inviting him to your meetings".
In particular, Dawe highlighted five key moments which emphasised the Government's interest in tourism.
She first pointed to a speech made prior to the General Election by the then shadow chancellor, George Osborne, in which he described tourism as the UK's "jewel in the crown".
Attention was also drawn to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's speech in Weymouth, outlining the plan to create the best-ever Olympics marketing initiative; the prime minister's speech at the Serpentine Gallery announcing the challenge to get the UK into the top five markets for tourism; the decision to formulate a cross-Government tourism strategy; and the launch last week of a programme to generate £1b-worth of global PR through partnership marketing between VisitBritain and the tourist industry.
Dawe told the conference that last year the UK was sixth in the world rankings of tourism destinations with 28 million visitors and that the country faced many challenges to ensure it remained globally competitive. "There are many reasons why we have fallen behind, particularly with the cost and difficulty of getting visa and aviation capacity," she said.
"But we do have great strengths, such as our heritage and culture and good hotels and restaurants."
Dawe went on to say that VisitBritain was now on the edge of a huge opportunity, having "survived the bonfire of the quangos" and its funding secured for the next four years.
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