Tourism Minister Barbara Follett has admitted the UK tourism industry needs more recognition from government.
Speaking on the first day of British Tourism Week she said: "People don't recognise tourism as an industry. It doesn't make widgets or have smoke pouring out of a chimney."
The government has started to take more of an interest in tourism she said and it is time to ensure the industry is acknowledged as the fifth biggest industry in the UK.
She said the responsibility for tourism has in the past been moved between government departments but tourism is to remain with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and now it is time "to get on with the job".
She added: "There is a golden opportunity with the current rate of exchange and VAT cuts to promote Britain as a value destination."
She was speaking at a luncheon in London today to launch British Tourism Week and the 40th anniversary of the 1969 Development of Tourism Act.
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