Much more fundamental reforms than those announced by culture secretary Jeremy Hunt are needed to boost UK tourism, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The UK is beckoning tourists with one hand and pushing them away with the other, WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill warned.
“The UK has the highest air tax of any country in the world. Heathrow and Gatwick are effectively full and there is no discernible long-term aviation policy that will provide the routes to China on the scale being provided by other European countries,” he said.
“The UK’s visa policy which requires visitors from key growth markets, such as China and India, to go through an expensive, time-consuming and cumbersome process to obtain visas is also a clear deterrent.”
Scowsill was responding to Hunt’s plan for an £8 million extension of the “GREAT” marketing campaign to target visitors from China and a further £2 million to promote domestic tourism in an effort to ‘turbo-charge’ tourism.
“Jeremy Hunt is right to want to ‘turbo-charge’ UK tourism, but a much more fundamental reform of visa, taxation and aviation policy is required to make a real difference,” said Scowsill.
“His plans to invest in a new domestic marketing campaign to draw on the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics and to specifically target the high-spending Chinese market are sensible options.
“Figures from VisitBritain show that the average spend per visit of Chinese visitors to UK is £1,677, compared to the average spend per visit from all countries of £563.”
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