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


Memorandum submitted by Mr David Lang

  I welcome the opportunity to express my personal views (not necessarily the views of my Company) to the Committee.

  It is encouraging that an inquiry is being held, but what a pity it's three months after the first outbreak.

  Successive Governments speak in glowing terms about the importance of the tourism industry to the UK economy, but continually fail to deliver and to take the industry seriously. Your own Government does not even recognise the word "Tourism" in the title of the body responsible for its promotion and development.

  The foot and mouth outbreak is a disaster for the nation, especially for farmers and all those involved in the rural economy and yet it has taken such a disaster to shake politicians into action.

  One would have thought that the debacle of the "Dome" and the effect on the industry together with the UK residents' and national/international tourists' poor opinion of attractions in this country was bad enough without more ridicule for the industry now.

  Action is needed to:

    —  Brand and market England. It cannot be right to allow the regions to complete with each other. The ETC does not have a long-term remit to market England (only it seems at a time of crisis) but perhaps it or another body should. Why should Scotland and Wales have their own tourist board when the jewel in the UK crown is England, is once again the poor relation.

    —  Recognise publicly the status of tourism within Government thinking.

    —  Provide on-going funding to allow meaningful marketing campaigns to be promoted, not throw in some money when faced with a crisis. The private sector cannot be expected to continue to promote our attractions in isolation.

    —  Improve the Government's handling of PR and the press.

    —  Tourism is not going away, although visits to the UK are in decline at a time when global and European tourism is increasing—we are losing market share! There needs to be a long-term strategy and plan to allow this country to compete in a global market place and a champion who understands the industry and is respected within it.

    —  Harmonisation on VAT with Europe on visitor attractions.

    —  Stir the hearts and minds of the nation by promoting pride in our country, if UK residents are apathetic, how can we expect foreign visitors to come.

    —  It has to be accepted by Government that certain sectors of the industry need financial assistance now not through unemployment benefit later!

  The public both home and abroad are fed up with platitudes and someone needs to be big enough to admit you got it wrong and to come up with a series of measures that are meaningful and provide real help. While one can sympathise with disasters abroad and support the aid this country provides, what about adopting the same approach to our own disaster by providing financial aid to our own people? Millions of pounds have been wasted on a plethora of failed attractions funded by lottery grants, as this is not regarded as "public money" perhaps some of it could be set aside to help the industry now and in the future. I'm convinced the public would welcome such an initiative.

April 2001

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