Despite being in its best position for a long time, UK inbound tourism still faces an uphill battle if it is to prosper.
VisitBritain head of government affairs Bernard Donoghue said the weakening of the pound against the dollar and the euro had made the UK about 27% cheaper for Americans and those living in the eurozone.
However, UKinbound chief executive Mary Rance said despite this advantage, visitor numbers from the US fell 16% year on year in December, while only our closest European neighbours were taking advantage of the exchange rates.
She said: “There’s never been a better time to come to the UK and enjoy the good value and it is a message we need to put out.”
Rance said despite the potential, VisitBritain is still dealing with an 18% funding cut announced in 2007, while the increase in Air Passenger Duty due in November could further dissuade the long-haul market, including key customers in India and China, from visiting the UK.
Donoghue said the tourism board hopes Barbara Follett, who became tourism minister in October 2008, will prove a success, thanks to her first-hand experience of the benefits tourism brings to local communities.
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