Penrose acknowledges government's UK holidays ad upset outbound sector

Penrose acknowledges government's UK holidays ad upset outbound sector

Tourism minister John Penrose has admitted the government could alter future marketing in light of the outcry from the outbound industry over its £5 million domestic tourism campaign.

The comments come as the government conducts a commercial analysis of its recent campaign, with initial findings due in the next few months.

Penrose acknowledged its campaign to encourage Brits to holiday at home in London Olympic year instead of taking an overseas break had upset the outbound travel industry, in particular the "tone of the first few seconds" of its advertisements, and even added that Brits were "rubbish" at holidaying at home.

He said: "If we did something like this again we could adjust that (tone). I think the outbound trade was surprised (by the government campaign); it was unusual, but they understood why we did it."

Penrose is confident the government's high-profile campaign will result in good levels of awareness of UK holidays but said the bad weather could affect booking levels and added that Brits were poor at taking holidays in their own country.

"We are rubbish at taking holidays at home. Statistically as a country in Europe we are the least likely to holiday at home and the most likely to go abroad. It's bizarre that we are one of the favourite destinations for the rest of the world to go to but we don't take as much notice of what's on our doorstep," he said.

Penrose welcomed British Airways recent "Don't Fly" marketing campaign to encourage Brits to stay at home and enjoy the London 2012 Olympic Games. "We're really pleased to have them come in behind our campaign," he added.

Speaking at Hilton Worldwide's summer reception, Penrose also backed the hotel chain's investment in the hospitality sector, which includes working on the government's young apprenticeship scheme, and its rapid expansion plans.

"This sector, led by companies such as Hilton, is able to deliver growth right across the country. It's part of the rebalancing of the economy," he said.

Hilton has 105 hotels in the UK within its brand portfolio, with a further 22  due to open in the next two years, creating more than 1,800 jobs.

Simon Vincent, Hilton Worldwide's area president Europe, said: "The UK marketplace is the most significant market for Hilton outside the US. We are investing significant amounts in the UK in expanding our portfolio of hotels. We are determined to work with the government to help create employment. We are one of the few growth sectors at the moment."

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