Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20 - 39)



Derek Wyatt

  20. Could you just tell me what the allocation of spend is for tourism between the four home countries?
  (Mr Donoghue) In terms of the amount of money coming from Government?

  21. Yes.
  (Mr Donoghue) We currently receive £35.5 million from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. For the exact figures that the Wales Tourist Board, the Scottish Tourist Board, Visit Scotland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board receive, may I refer you to the chief executives of those boards when they come up before you.

  22. But is it not correct that England gets less per head for tourism than the combined spend in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales?
  (Mr Donoghue) That is certainly an inference that can be taken from parliamentary answers.

  23. Was that a yes or a no?
  (Mr Donoghue) You can read into that.


  24. Come off it. Honestly. You just quoted our last report with approval and we highlighted that totally in our last report, England is starved of money for tourism.
  (Mr Donoghue) I think that is certainly true but I am sure the England Tourism Council would respond more robustly than I can.

Derek Wyatt

  25. If it is the case, and it is the case as I understand it, that you are the British bit, where do tourists most often go to, England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland?
  (Mr Donoghue) England.

  26. So is your spend proportionately more on England currently to get us back or is it amortised equally?
  (Mr Donoghue) Our spend reflects our statutory duties. Our primary statutory duty is not only to promote the whole of Britain overseas but, more importantly, to spread the benefits of tourism throughout Britain and concentrating particularly on getting the tourists out of the honeypots, such as London, and into the rest of the country.

  27. Do you think it is right that tourism should be in the Culture Department, should it not be in the DTI?
  (Mr Donoghue) I think the question as to where tourism is located is entirely a matter for Government. What we can say, and I think it has been reflected in the portfolio of this Committee, is that we have a great deal of synergy in terms of issues like sport and art and culture. There are two examples that I just want to draw your attention to. The first is the Sports Tourism Strategy, which this Committee prompted us to prioritise in your inquiry two years ago. The second is something which I think you will all have received within the last ten days, which is our Bollywood map which highlights the effects of Bollywood and Asian films in this country and the tourism benefits that can accrue from that. Certainly we have enjoyed huge amounts of benefit from sharing with colleagues within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's family of quangoes. We think there are a lot of benefits to be gained from that.

  28. I am not sure that is an answer. Let me try again and perhaps Mr Hamblin will be able to answer it. If it is the fourth largest industry, profit making turnover in the United Kingdom, is it right that it is in a Culture Department?
  (Mr Hamblin) I do not have a—

  Chairman: Can we leave that for Janet Anderson, I think that is probably most appropriate.

Derek Wyatt

  29. Can I ask, because it does impact on the fact that I have an interest in Spafax, given that 10,000 business class people come every day—I do not know what the figures are for first class—do you intend to take out advertising on airlines that is positive about Britain?
  (Mr Hamblin) It will be part of the strategy for us to work with airlines to promote leisure tourism principally to try to get the recovery going this year. We will also be working with ferry operators in Europe because they are suffering also out of Norway, out of Denmark and out of Germany. As well as the short-sea routes we are aware that they are suffering. It is incumbent upon us to work with those people who can help us drive business towards Britain again.

Mr Maxton

  30. We have had one Bank Holiday, which was the Easter weekend, what information have you garnered so far about visitor numbers into Britain over that weekend? I know you are only concerned with the overseas ones but I presume there must be some research that covers both domestic and overseas.
  (Mr Hamblin) I think it is fair to say that the inbound traffic from overseas, from the anecdotal evidence we have, was somewhere between 15 and 20 per cent down this Easter over the previous Easter. As the problem has intensified what we are not finding is forward bookings. Those people who booked in March or booked in February, many of them did not cancel, they came, but as the whole foot and mouth situation escalated during March and April many tour operators around the world discovered that the forward bookings that they would normally anticipate for spring and summer were simply not materialising. This is why we believe that the tactical activity that I referred to earlier on is now of paramount importance, because there is still time but we have got to get moving very, very quickly.

  31. Some tourist attractions which were asked by the media how they were doing, I agree not in the areas obviously most affected by foot and mouth, were actually saying that their numbers were not significantly down over previous years, in fact some of them were saying they were up. Shopping centres in particular were saying that their numbers were up.
  (Mr Hamblin) That is true.

  32. Does that mean that it is the domestic market rather than the overseas market that is holding it up?
  (Mr Hamblin) I was able to visit Cumbria last week and I was talking with Chris Collier and her colleagues up there. They had experienced a very strong Easter but normally that period lasts for two weeks; this year it lasted for two or three days.

Mr Keen

  33. Apart from the funeral pyres, I thought the most damaging image on TV was the maps. It was not done maliciously, of course, but with one outbreak in North Yorkshire a blob appeared on the countryside over an area as large as that within the M25 and, of course, you could obliterate the whole of the West Country with five or six outbreaks. Did you make any approach to the news companies to try to make them show them more to scale? If they had been to scale you would not have seen anything at all but did you make any approaches on that?
  (Mr Donoghue) We certainly raised the issue with something called the News Co-ordination Centre, which is based in the Cabinet Office, which has been co-ordinating all of the news about foot and mouth in terms of the public adverts Diana Organ mentioned but also more broadly than that. We suggested to them that maps were unhelpful precisely for the reason you have given because if you just get five dots for Devon, Devon is covered. What we were more interested in doing was trying to promote what was open rather than closed, what was attractive rather than what was unattractive, and to provide as comprehensive information as we could through the web sites. Yes, we did make representations and much of those have already been taken up.

  34. How much liaison do you normally have with the agricultural industry in normal times? Do you have much contact with them? Is it part of tourism or has it always appeared to be a separate industry?
  (Mr Hamblin) No. I think that it is incumbent upon the tourism industry to support the farming community during the current crisis because the farmers are the people—

  35. I was talking about before.
  (Mr Hamblin) We have always worked closely with them because many farmers are also involved in tourism businesses with bed and breakfast, with self-catering accommodation, many have farm attractions, they have open days on their farms. The two are inextricably linked. The environment that the farmers have protected for us over the centuries is one of the appealing forces of Britain as a tourism destination. What I will say is the relationship that we had with the farming community and with the NFU, for example, has become much, much closer during this crisis because we have been desperate to ensure that our measures are compatible and that we are not conflicting with each other.

  36. So some good has come out of a very bad situation?
  (Mr Hamblin) Yes, indeed.

  37. One final question. Particularly people from abroad are deciding not to come because of the images they have seen, false images in many cases. How much will we lose? If I was an Australian deciding not to come this year because I had read articles or seen pictures on television, would I be likely to go somewhere else this year and come here next year? Will it even out over a five year period, that is what I am trying to say, or will we still be damaged overall?
  (Mr Hamblin) If we look at the impact of the Gulf War in 1991, that affected us for a number of years thereafter before we got back to where we wanted to be. I have got to believe that in this case we are talking about three years or so before we get back to where we wanted to be at the end of this year, for example. It is a sad fact that these images will endure in the minds of many for some time to come. We will work increasingly hard to bring over journalists, to get the images that I saw in Cumbria last week circulated of lambs in the fields that the group I had with me from the United States, from Canada and from Japan found astounding because they assumed that Cumbria was one massive funeral pyre.
  (Mr Donoghue) It also comes back to a point which Claire Ward made at the beginning, which is the cumulative image of Britain now. Particularly in the United States foot and mouth, or hoof and mouth as it is known there, is linked with BSE and, therefore, there is a confusion in the minds of many American tourists, and indeed elsewhere, that actually this is not simply a farming problem, this is a health safety problem, and it is not simply a health safety problem, it is a human health problem. Therefore, we have a whole range of issues to address which we think can only be done through tactical advertising and a large scale image advertising campaign towards the end of this year which, as Jeff has said, may have to go on for about three years.

  38. What sort of percentage would the reduction in loss be? For instance, if we were losing 75 per cent this year would it be 50 and then down to 25 over three years? Do you have any estimates of the recovery?
  (Mr Hamblin) We have not done that in any detail. What we are saying is this year it could be anywhere between £1.5 billion and £2.5 billion. Do not forget, we were projecting some growth this year. Let us say we get half of it back next year and let us say we get 75 per cent back the year after, rest assured we will be working very, very hard to do it.

Miss Kirkbride

  39. In terms of winning the PR battle, what representations did you make to Downing Street after the Prime Minister's picture was put all around the world wearing his yellow oilskins out and about in the countryside?
  (Mr Donoghue) That was a regrettable picture, not merely because it prompted a number of customers in the United States who spoke to their travel agents last week to ask did they have to bring their own chemical suits when they come to Britain or would we provide them. Whilst that picture was regrettable I think it should be viewed in isolation. By far and away the most useful thing the Prime Minister has done was to respond very quickly to our request for him to meet all the world travel leaders last week, which he did by hosting them at Chequers and also by making No. 10 available to them last week as well. Then, of course, his announcement yesterday afternoon that an announcement will be forthcoming in the next few days about further investment is also welcomed.

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