Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Eighth Report


7. In this chapter we outline the roles of the key stakeholders in the tourism industry:

  • The Government;
  • VisitBritain;
  • Regional Development Agencies (RDAs);
  • Local authorities and destination management organisations; and
  • The private sector.

The Government

8. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is the sponsor Government Department for tourism. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP has been the Minister of State with responsibility for tourism since July 2007. Tourism is a devolved matter in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Greater London, but DCMS retains responsibility for tourism in England outside London.

9. DCMS had a 2005-08 Public Service Agreement (PSA) "to improve the productivity of the tourism, creative and leisure industries". The 2005-08 PSAs have now been replaced by a new framework of 30 cross-government PSAs, two of which may be considered directly relevant to the tourism industry. DCMS contributes to the PSA to "raise the productivity of the UK economy" and it is also the lead Department on the PSA on delivering the London 2012 Games.

10. DCMS provides funding relating to tourism to VisitBritain, Visit London, People 1st (the Sector Skills Council for hospitality, leisure and tourism) and the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs).[4] DCMS recently published its tourism strategy for the 2012 Games: Winning: a tourism strategy for 2012 and beyond.


11. VisitBritain is the national tourism agency, a non-departmental public body responsible to DCMS. Its primary responsibility is to promote Britain overseas and it currently does so by operating in 36 different countries.[5] In addition to this remit, VisitBritain also incorporates VisitEngland, the agency responsible for promoting England in Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland. VisitBritain claims that over the three years to 2005-06, for every £1 that the Government invested in VisitBritain's domestic and international activity, it generated a return of £36 for the visitor economy.[6] This exceeds the 30:1 return on investment ratio target set by DCMS in the funding agreement for VisitBritain.[7]

12. Part-way through our inquiry, DCMS announced that Grant-in-Aid to VisitBritain would be reduced from £50.5 million in 2007-08 to £40.6 million in 2010-11.[8] At the request of DCMS, VisitBritain is currently undertaking a strategic review of how it will operate within the reduced level of funding. We consider this issue in detail in Chapter 4.

Regional Development Agencies

13. The nine English Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) are non-departmental public bodies that were created in 1998. They took on strategic responsibility for regional tourism development in 2003, as part of their wider roles in promoting economic development. Under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998, each Agency has five statutory purposes, which are:

14. Each RDA has developed a regional tourism strategy alongside its wider regional economic strategy, and each has designed its own delivery structures.[10] The RDAs state that they have typically focused their resources on the quality of the tourism product, and the service provided to visitors, rather than on the marketing of destinations.[11]

Local authorities and destination management organisations

15. Local authorities are responsible for providing the basic tourism infrastructure for a destination. Often, this constitutes facilities used by local people and visitors alike: infrastructure such as car parks, public toilets and bins. However, some local authorities also invest in more tourism-specific facilities such as tourist information centres. Local authorities must also manage the impact of visitors on local environments and communities. Finally, local authorities may also choose to market destinations within their boundaries. Some choose to do so independently, while others market tourism at a sub-regional level through a "Destination Management Organisation", regional bodies appointed by local authorities to undertake this role on their behalf.

The private sector

16. Although some large businesses do exist, tourism in the UK is an industry where small, often family-run businesses predominate. In fact, it is estimated that 70% of tourism businesses are small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).[12] Tourism associations, such as those listed below, play an important role in communicating the views held by different sectors of the industry:

  • The British Hospitality Association represents the hotel, restaurant and catering industry;
  • UKinbound represents the interests of companies deriving a substantial part of their income from the provision of tours and tourism services for overseas visitors within Britain;
  • The British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions (BALPPA) represents the commercial piers, theme / amusement parks, attractions and zoos sector; and
  • The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) also represents the attractions sector.

Each of the above, together with 45 other tourism-related associations, is a member of the "Tourism Alliance". Representing a total of 200,000 businesses, the Tourism Alliance considers itself "the voice of the UK tourism industry".[13]

4   Ev 197 Back

5   Written Answer 15 October 2007, col. 830W. VisitBritain has overseas offices in 18 countries, representatives in a further 10 countries, and a "virtual presence" in a further 8 countries.  Back

6   Ev 164 Back

7   VisitBritain Annual Report, Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2007, HC 751, Session 2006-07, page 13 Back

8   Comprehensive Spending Review settlement. Back

9   BERR, Back

10   Ev 71 Back

11   Ev 71 Back

12   Ev 167 Back

13 Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008
Prepared 10 July 2008