A heated row has broken out on Twitter over the government’s £4 million promotion of domestic holidays after Abta condemned the outlay as costly and misguided.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt hit back on the micro blogging site, describing Abta’s criticism as “nonsense,” adding that every major hotel chain and one of Abta’s biggest members, Thomas Cook, supports the campaign.
But Travel Counsellors founder and chairman David Speakman joined the criticism, tweeting to Hunt: “Let hotels pay for it rather than taxpayers.”
Low Cost Travel group sales director Paul Riches weighed into the Twitter debate asking how the government can justify spending £4 million of “our money” on telling people to holiday in the UK.
Kuoni UK managing director Derek Jones also attacked Hunt, saying: “What a shallow response from a minister. I employ 350 people who depend on outbound tourism for their jobs.”
Abta told Hunt that it “supports all tourism sectors and the jobs they create. We’d expect the UK government to do the same.”
But this drew a strong response from the minister, saying: “Which is why we launched UKs biggest ever tourism campaign. But if you’d not noticed I’m Min 4 British Tourism not French/Spanish.”
He added: “Our GREAT 2012 campaign should create 60k jobs & £2.5bn tourist spend. R u against that 2? Thought u spoke 4 tourism industry.”
Abta earlier said it was keen to meet Hunt to discuss the GREAT domestic tourism campaign, saying the association understood that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport covers domestic, inbound and outbound tourism.
The dispute followed Abta yesterday releasing findings of research which found that two thirds of people oppose the government spending money on a UK holiday advertising campaign.
This includes a VisitEngland ‘Holidays at Home are GREAT’ TV advert.
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