Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Fourth Report


VI. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

107. Our principal conclusions and recommendations are as follows:


(i)In 1999, the Tourism Society expressed concern to this Committee that the English Tourism Council had been designed more by reference to the needs of the Government than with a focus on the customer. We remarked then that "it remains to be seen whether the strategic gains within Government [from the creation of the English Tourism Council] will off-set the loss of a clearly identified national marketing arm for English tourism" (paragraph 27).
  
(ii)The expenditure funded by the Government for the respective tourist boards in 1999-2000 was as follows: £19.4 million for the Scottish Tourist Board; £15.4 million for the Wales Tourist Board; and £11.7 million for the English Tourism Council. Furthermore, the allocation to the English Tourism Council includes all allocations to the Regional Tourist Boards from public funds. The levels of spending by tourists (excluding day trips) for the respective nations is as follows: £2.5 billion in Scotland; £1.4 billion in Wales; and £24 billion in England. The grant-in-aid for the Scottish Tourist Board was the equivalent of £3.77 per head; the grant-in-aid for the Wales Tourist Board was the equivalent of £4.03 per head. The equivalent figure for English domestic tourism was 20 pence per head of population. These figures and the planned freeze of expenditure on the British Tourist Authority leave no doubt that there has been a sustained problem of under-investment by the public sector in tourism that has affected English tourism in particular (paragraph 29).
  
(iii)The low level of information technology provision in the tourism industry has been a hindrance to information collection and analysis. The English Tourism Council confirmed that, prior to the current foot and mouth outbreak, only six out of the ten Regional Tourist Boards provided web sites, and the Council recognised the importance of encouraging and supporting information technology development in tourism, referring to the "critical importance of new media to the success of the industry" (paragraph 34).
  
(iv)We recommend that the Department for Education and Employment recommend urgently that all local education authorities review the advice and instructions they give to schools and ensure that, whenever possible, visits go ahead (paragraph 48).
  
(v)At the present juncture, it is not possible to examine whether and why the Government and other public authorities were slow to respond adequately to the implications for tourism of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. It will be essential subsequently to examine this issue in detail, not least to ensure that appropriate lessons are learned for the future organisation of public sector support for tourism and Government sponsorship of the industry (paragraph 56).
  
(vi)As matters stand, it appears that no additional public funding will be available in the immediate future for the English Tourism Council or for Regional Tourist Boards. We find this astonishing. That approach calls into question whether the Government has fully grasped the extent to which publicly-funded marketing and promotion represent one of the few specific aids for tourism businesses in affected areas that are struggling to survive the current crisis. We return to the longer term case for marketing England as a tourist destination later in this Report (paragraph 75).
  
(vii)We recommend that the Government as a matter of urgency appoint a coordinator of all Government activities for the areas most deeply affected by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease reporting to the Cabinet Office. We emphasise that this is for a limited number of areas that require specific attention beyond measures focused on regions (paragraph 78).
  
  
(viii)It will be important for the Government to clarify as soon as possible the additional assistance that it will offer to local authorities in the most affected areas that provide assistance to businesses not conforming to the Government scheme (paragraph 79).
  
(ix)We recommend that the Government examine the case for a job retention subsidy for the tourism industry in the most adversely affected areas to ensure that vital skills are not lost to those areas and possibly to the country for good (paragraph 81).
  
(x)We recommend the immediate creation of a National Tourism Corporation for England, operating on the model of Urban Development Corporations established in the 1980s. This Corporation would be able to develop and implement a tourist strategy. It would have direct powers to distribute funds to areas in most need, in consultation with but not through the English Tourism Council, Regional Tourist Boards and Regional Development Agencies (paragraph 89).
  
(xi)It is essential that the Lottery distributing bodies respond sensitively and as generously as possible to the additional needs of projects in affected areas arising from the current crisis in rural tourism (paragraph 90).
  
(xii)We recommend that a Minister in the Cabinet Office be charged with responsibility for coordination of all Government involvement with assistance for rural communities and businesses affected by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease beyond the immediate impact on farming (paragraph 91).
  
(xiii)We recommend that the Government re-examine fundamentally and as a matter of urgency the case for sustained public funding for local, regional and national marketing of England and its component parts as a tourist destination. In future, it will be essential to promote areas most adversely affected by the current crisis with public funding, to develop a more coherent approach to marketing through the Regional Tourist Boards and to provide funding for the packaging and marketing of England as a tourist destination in its own right (paragraph 100).
  
(xiv)Regardless of where departmental responsibility for tourism is located in the future, we recommend that tourism is and is seen to be the primary responsibility of the relevant Minister (paragraph 105).




 
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