Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Historic Houses Association


  The Historic Houses Association, which represents the interests of Britain's privately-owned historic houses, castles and gardens, welcomes the opportunity to submit evidence to this inquiry.


  BTA statistics show that historic properties are amongst the principal attractions for overseas visitors to Britain. HHA member properties (more than the National Trust, English Heritage and their equivalents combined) make up a major element of this sector.

  Annually around 12 million people visit these houses and gardens and a wide range of broadly-based attractions and events. The properties also undertake extensive commercial, corporate and retail activity employing approximately 10,000 people.

  BTA statistics show that only 4 per cent of visitor spend is at the attraction itself, but the remainder contributes an estimated £1.2 billion from these properties into the economy.

  The importance and extent of this economic contribution in relation to traditional agriculture has been all too starkly demonstrated by the foot and mouth crisis.


  The HHA welcomes BTA's and ETC's energetic action in their attempts to resuscitate rural tourism in Britain. However this Association remains concerned at the BTA's tendency to promote larger attractions, most of which already enjoy extensive marketing budgets—in the case of English Heritage and Historic Scotland funded out of public funds—at the expense of the bulk of smaller attractions which cannot afford the considerable expense of participating in BTA promotions. They are thus overlooked and the BTA promotion is weakened as a consequence.

  This matter represents a longstanding concern and was submitted to Tom Clarke MP and Janet Anderson MP, respectively, as Tourism Ministers in November 1997 and in March 1999. The matter is particularly relevant in the context of the CMS Committee's current inquiry. This Association believes that BTA's action will only be complete and properly effective if it makes reference to and is able to support the broad range of the smaller and privately-owned visitor attractions. Previous promotions tend to include exclusive reference to National Trust and English Heritage and other similar bodies. Measures to address this have been submitted to the BTA and include:

    —  Free promotion of all attractions as part of the FMD response.

    —  The appointment of a marketing official to work specifically with the private sector and financed out of the additional money made available by the Government to the BTA.

    —  And in future, considerably reduced fees for properties attracting les than, say, 50,000 visitors.

April 2001

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