Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Fourth Report


The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has agreed to the following Report:



1. Tourism is a vital part of the British economy, as a generator of income and as a provider of jobs in the private sector. It contains a great diversity of businesses, serving visitors throughout the urban and rural areas of Britain. The tourism sector has been the cinderella of Government-supported industry in the UK, neglected in the past because of its diffuse and fragmented nature and lack of coherent representation.

2. During 2001, the tourism industry was affected first by the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) epidemic and later by the events of 11 September. Visitor numbers and spend fell dramatically in the UK during the outbreak and in the aftermath of FMD and were further affected post 11 September. These problems galvanised the Government into action and help was received by the sector. The profile of tourism within Government and in the media was raised and attention was drawn to the structural problems within support for tourism.

3. It became clear that reform of the support structure for tourism was needed. The Government's solution was the formation of a single body out of the existing British Tourist Authority (BTA) (responsible for the promotion of Britain overseas) and the English Tourism Council (ETC) (responsible for the strategic organisation of English tourism). Details on organisation, precise functions and funding have only just begun to emerge. It is still to be seen whether the new arrangements, born out of a response to crisis, will improve the support for tourism in Britain. It is questionable whether responsibility for tourism even lies under the most suitable Whitehall department.

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Prepared 4 February 2003