Business leaders have written a letter to the Prime Minister calling for responsibility for tourism to be removed from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The business leaders, which include the chief executives from Hoseasons Holiday Homes, Butlins and Travelodge, say they believe tourism has the potential to be one of the strongest performing industries in the UK and want responsibility moved to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
The letter declares that the tourism industry is being held back by a lack of focus in Government as the DCMS is primarily focused on culture and the creative industries. They believe moving responsibility to DBERR would then give tourism the same recognition as industries such as manufacturing, construction and retail.
Travelodge chief executive Grant Hearn 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 £350 million being allocated annually for tourism promotion it is not a lack of money that is the problem, but a lack of focus.
“At the moment the DCMS is not getting the basics right. No cohesive strategy, a lack of consistent performance measures across the sector and not even the correct infrastructure to collect revenue data. All of these issues are better dealt with by a department designed to build commerce.”
Hoseasons Holidays chief executive Richard Carrick, said: “The current economic climate and adverse exchange rates are likely to mean that 2009 is a boom year for incoming and intra UK tourism.
“If we don’t get a handle on the way tourism is dealt with by Government quickly this massive opportunity will be spurned, in the same way that very large sums of money invested in the myriad of tourism agencies across the UK for many years has been squandered.”
Bourne Leisure chief executive John Dunford said: “There are major opportunities for sustainable growth in UK tourism, many of which involve investing in areas of high unemployment and attracting consumer spend and jobs to those areas.
“If we want to release those opportunities effectively and rapidly then the importance of tourism to the UK economy needs to be understood and effectively represented at the heart of the UK government”
The letter sent to the Prime Minister today is signed by:
- Amanda Thompson, Managing Director Blackpool Pleasure Beach
- John Dunford, chief executive of Bourne Leisure
- Colin Dawson, chief executive of the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions
- Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D and D London
- Richard Carrick, chief executive of Hoseasons
- Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments
- Grant Hearn, chief executive of Travelodge
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