Government cuts to the UK’s key tourism promotion bodies have been described as ‘bonkers’ by a leading domestic tour operator.
An 8% cut in budget for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which covers tourism, was agreed last week by Maria Miller, secretary of state for culture.
An announcement on funding for inbound tourism body VisitBritain and domestic tourism organisation VisitEngland for 2015-16 was due on Wednesday; however, the European Tour Operators’ Association (Etoa) understands DCMS funding for both will fall 12%.
The move comes as the trade promotes the UK as part of VisitEngland’s high-profile Wallace & Gromit ‘Great Adventure’ campaign.
VisitEngland received £2 million in government funding to lead the campaign its first to focus on agents as a booking channel while a further £2 million was raised through matched-funding from suppliers.
Superbreak sales director Jane Atkins said: “A funding cut is doubly disappointing on the back of this campaign as it sends out the wrong message. It’s bonkers.”
Allan Lambert, Bourne Leisure head of retail sales, said recent government support had been encouraging but needed to be maintained with a “little and often” approach.
“It is important to keep up the momentum,” he said. “There is a risk we could be outgunned by other national tourist boards.”
Lambert said there was no doubt the Wallace & Gromit campaign had improved agents’ UK knowledge, while brochure pick-ups at agencies had increased year on year.
Etoa chief executive Tom Jenkins said UK tourism was in a “critical state” having lost share against other European destinations.
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