Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Skelmersdale: The noble and learned Lord may have ignored subsection (3) of my amendment. All the consultation provisions are included in the amendment. Any Government that proposed to do

25 Jan 2001 : Column 421

away with the Act would be able to use the order-making procedure rather than using primary legislation, which they would have to do under any other circumstances.

The noble and learned Lord cited my noble friend Lord Strathclyde, who is currently the leader of my party in this House, in support of his vehement opposition to the idea. Quite a lot of water has fallen over the weir since 1994. On reflection, perhaps my noble friend and I were wrong on that Bill.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I have never heard the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, referred to as "the weir". I had taken subsection (3) of the noble Lord's amendment into account. That does not deal with our principled objection to the amendment, which is that the a department would never know whether the power existed to make its RRO, because, subject to a 60-day or three-month period, the Act could be repealed at any time by Parliament. That would be worse than providing for the Act to last for five years, because at least the department would know that the power was going to exist for a specified period. Under the noble Lord's proposal, subject to the time required for the consultation process, the department would not know whether the power was going to exist when it embarked on the long task of preparing an RRO.

Baroness Buscombe: I thank the Minister for his response to the amendments. I shall not repeat my arguments at this late hour. I merely reconfirm that we are debating a very different animal from the 1994 Act.

I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Borrie, knows that I cannot bind any future government, but, as a good parliamentarian, I can confirm that any parliamentary review of legislation would be taken seriously.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I apologise for interrupting the noble Baroness. Of course she cannot bind a future government, but she could tell us the present intention of the Conservative Party in relation to a recommendation from the committee.

Baroness Buscombe: We would follow the same practice.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Therefore, the intention is that it would give such an undertaking if it were in government.

Baroness Buscombe: I am unable to give an undertaking. Of course, there is also a question mark, in a bigger sense, over what will happen in relation to the Wakeham report. That is one of my points. I believe that we should give consideration to this matter between now and Report and read carefully what the Minister said. However, for now, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 78 not moved.]

25 Jan 2001 : Column 422

7.30 p.m.

Clause 13 [Consequential amendments]:

[Amendment No. 78A not moved.]

Clause 13 agreed to.

Lord Skelmersdale moved Amendment No. 79:


    After Clause 13, insert the following new clause--

AMENDMENT

(" .--(1) This Act may be amended by order made by statutory instrument.
(2) An order under subsection (1) shall be laid in draft before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.
(3) Before laying an order under this section, the Secretary of State shall carry out the procedures set out in--
(a) section 5(1)(a), (c), (d) and (e),
(b) section 6(1) with the omission of the words "together with details of the matters specified in subsection (2)",
(c) section 7, and
(d) section 8,
above.").

The noble Lord said: Part of the explanation for the Bill, given at Second Reading, put me in mind of the musical show of, I believe, the 1950s--"Oklahoma". The rationale was that the Government feel that they have gone as far as they can in respect of the 1994 Act. I am sure that Members of the Committee will remember the character to whom I refer. In my study of the Bill, it occurred to me that that position may well arise in 10 or 11 years' time. Therefore, I propose that it should be possible to amend the Bill, when it becomes an Act, as the circumstances require. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Fundamentally, the reason why the 1994 Act ran out of steam was because it could deal only with legislation up to and including the 1993-94 Session. Therefore, it had to run out of steam eventually. However, it also ran out of steam for other reasons. It was not possible to initiate a number of valuable projects which might have come under the scope of regulatory reform orders because the Act was drawn too tightly. We have now introduced a Bill with wide powers and extensive safeguards, and we believe that it will have a longer shelf life than the 1994 Act.

Lord Skelmersdale: The proof of the pudding will, of course, be in the eating. I hope that in 10 or 12 years' time the noble Lord will be in a position to chew over and reflect upon what he has said this evening. That said, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 80 not moved.]

Clause 14 agreed to.

Clause 15 [Short title and extent]:

[Amendment No. 81 not moved.]

Clause 15 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with an amendment.

25 Jan 2001 : Column 423

Business

Lord Burlison: My Lords, consideration of the Regulatory Reform Bill is now complete. This evening's Unstarred Question is no longer restricted to the one hour available for business in the dinner break. Instead, a limit of one-and-a-half hours now applies. That change does not affect the time allocated to my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey but it increases to 11 minutes the time available for each of the other speakers. Perhaps I may add that, if noble Lords have already prepared shorter speeches and would prefer to avoid the inconvenience of extending them at such short notice, they will attract no criticism from these Benches, nor, I suspect, from any other.

Tourism

7.36 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to promote the marketing of British tourism to visitors from overseas.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, why should the Government be involved in promoting the marketing of British tourism to visitors from overseas? Who are the main players in the marketing world, and how can the Government help? Those are some of the issues which I hope to touch upon tonight. I thank the British Tourist Authority not only for its briefing in advance of this debate but also for making it possible for me to learn a little more about its work by sponsoring two visits to its offices overseas. I went to Paris for one day in 1999 and to Dublin for one-and-a-half days last year.

This month, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published the report of the first stage of the five-yearly review of the BTA's work. I welcome the recommendation in that report that the BTA should continue to function as a non-departmental public body at arm's length from the Government and its conclusion that the functions of the BTA are necessary and should not be abolished. In particular, I also welcome the recommendations which endorse the proposals which we made in our policy document, Tourism Today, published in March last year.

My main question to the Minister tonight is: do the Government now endorse all the recommendations in that report and, if so, what is the timescale for their implementation? Will they, for example, take the opportunity offered in the Culture and Recreation Bill to implement specific recommendations? Of course, in order to be ever-helpful in that regard, I have tabled some of my own amendments on such subjects.

The tourism industry is vital to the health of the United Kingdom economy. It is one of the country's largest industries, employing approximately 7 per cent of our workforce, and it contributes 64 billion each year to our economy. We are, of course, in competition with the rest of the world. The United Kingdom ranks

25 Jan 2001 : Column 424

fifth in the international tourism earnings league. Only the United States, Italy, France and Spain are ahead of us.

However, as the volume of tourism increases, it is estimated that we shall not benefit from that increase as much as will our competitors in the rest of Europe. We cannot afford to be complacent, and, indeed, the tourism industry is not. It recognises the challenges that lie ahead. The very diversity of the industry means that it cannot act strategically.

Therefore, I believe that it is right that the Government should take a close interest in the marketing of tourism to visitors from overseas. They should help the industry to succeed but without interfering in it. They should avoid unnecessary regulation which would impede the tourism industry. The Pink Guide published last year by the English Tourism Council provided an education about the nightmare of regulations which affect the industry.

The Government should ensure that the BTA works to the best of its ability and that it is funded appropriately. They should recognise that a variety of organisations have an interest in marketing Britain overseas and that they should be encouraged to complement and not conflict with each other in their work.

The BTA is of course the premier organisation which markets Britain abroad. It has offices in 27 countries overseas and works in partnership with the national tourist boards in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to promote an attractive image of Britain. It has demonstrated the benefits which Britain, the economy and the taxpayer receive for the public investment in BTA. It estimates that its work produces 30 for every 1 of public investment.

Under the previous Conservative government, a useful start was made in encouraging greater co-ordination and co-operation between the BTA, the British Council and the trade promotional functions of the Department of Trade and Industry. We believe that there is further scope for developing active links between those organisations.

When I visited Paris I saw at first hand how effectively the British Council works to promote British culture overseas and how it enhances the UK's reputation in the world as a valued partner. I therefore welcome Recommendation 9 of the report, which states that the BTA should consult the British Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about developing more widely the scope for joint working in countries where the BTA is not currently represented. Will the Minister also give a commitment that no more BTA offices will have to be closed down in countries where the authority is currently represented?

We on these Benches also commend the important contribution that has already been made to the tourism industry by the private sector. It ploughs back large sums in marketing investment. We believe that destination marketing is best achieved at a macro level through government involvement. That is why we

25 Jan 2001 : Column 425

propose to offer a commitment, in partnership with the private sector, to invest in the marketing of Britain worldwide.

We have made a commitment that the next Conservative government will secure greater funding for the BTA through the introduction of a matching scheme. Government support will match, pound for pound--up to a maximum of 15 million per year--industry's sponsorship of the BTA. That additional 30 million could enable the reopening of some international offices and speed up the introduction of new technologies, which are increasingly essential to the marketing of British tourism internationally.

Other organisations naturally also play a vital part, either directly or indirectly, in marketing Britain overseas. I have already referred in passing to the valuable work of the British Council. The English Tourism Council, regional tourist boards and local authorities are key players, too. The work of individual local authority marketing campaigns should never be underestimated. Their established responsibilities for planning, transport and recreation, and their substantial support for the arts, will naturally give local authorities a key role in the industry's future development.

When I visited Dublin last year I was lucky enough to be present at the launch of the Marketing Manchester Campaign. It is very aware of the strength of its relationship with the BTA. It has already proved itself a success, with nearly 4,000 potential Irish visitors responding to the campaign and asking for more information about Manchester. The highlight, of course, of any campaign for that city is that it will host the Commonwealth Games in 2002.

In December, the All-Party Group for Tourism and the All-Party Group for Sports had a joint meeting, at which there was unanimous agreement about the fact that Britain could do more to promote its sporting events. I shall describe some of its recommendations. First, it said that promotion could be achieved only if a connection was made between sports groups and tourism organisations. Secondly, it recommended that Ministers should be made to realise that sports tourism needs sponsorship and funding from the government. Thirdly, it said that for smaller sporting events it would be useful to obtain tax cuts such as those allocated to films in the entertainment industry. It also recommended--its shopping list grows a little longer--that better promotion could involve the huge international fan clubs that exist worldwide. I was made aware in Dublin of the enormous size of Manchester United's fan club. People regularly fly to Manchester to watch their team. I had not previously appreciated how large is the team's fan club in China and America. Finally, the All-Party Groups recommended that events could be advertised abroad and holiday packages arranged to include those events; more effort could be made in that regard than is presently the case.

Have the Government had an opportunity to take note of those recommendations? Will they, for example, be discussed at the next tourism forum and/or the next tourism summit?

25 Jan 2001 : Column 426

I also pay tribute to the work of the business tourism sector in attracting overseas visitors. I am grateful to the Association of Recognised English Language Services for its briefing, which points out that English language courses are a vital part of tourism marketing. Figures show that Britain attracts almost half of the 1.2 million worldwide market share for English language students. They are invaluable to the British tourist industry not only because they are potential tourists of the future but because, I am advised, they are very high spenders, which boosts local economies. That is a success story to which I wish even more success in the future.

I was interested to note that the report recommends that the BTA should encourage awareness of business tourism. How do the Government anticipate better achieving that?

For the most part, people in the business world want the Government to keep out of their way, but there are issues that require leadership. Governments can provide that in a common-sense way by promoting the marketing of Britain to visitors from overseas.

I thank all noble Lords who have put down their names to speak today, and I look forward, as ever, to the Minister's response.

7.46 p.m.

Lord Hunt of Chesterton: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St Johns, for introducing this debate on a subject that is of great importance to every part of the United Kingdom. It is especially vital to some of the holiday tourist areas, which suffer from low wages and limited prospects for other business opportunities and fulfilling employment. I agree with many of the points that the noble Baroness made, and I look forward to the response of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, on behalf of the Government.

I have some specialist points to make, but I shall begin from my experience of having had enjoyable holidays in many parts of the UK and in many foreign countries. I am concerned about UK tourism. Very few of my foreign friends ever choose to have family holidays in the UK. Why? That question is particularly pressing because England is only 22 miles from arguably the world's most successful tourist country--namely, France. I shall make some suggestions about what the Government and their agencies could do and about the way in which other organisations, including, perhaps, the House of Lords, could contribute.

Several factors make for successful holiday tourism, the chief of which are people, scenery, recreational activities, cultural events, accommodation, food and finally--this is my speciality--the weather. The UK has marvellous people who are welcoming to tourists. We have magnificent scenery and interesting recreational activities, especially minority pursuits that are suitable in a northern climate, such as sailing, walking and fishing. As the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, said, sport could be encouraged further.

The Government and UK organisations generally need to do better with regard to the other factors. One of the great attractions of holiday-making on the

25 Jan 2001 : Column 427

continent is the opportunity to enjoy numerous cultural events, such as concerts in squares, town halls and churches. One can do so in holiday areas, and even in coastal resorts. Those events are well sponsored and publicised by regional governments, and I note are always well attended by British tourists. There is absolutely nothing like the same level of attendance at similar events in UK holiday areas. That is particularly surprising, in view of our weather.

Surely the Department for Culture, Media and Sport should ensure that in holiday areas which need to attract tourists there is greater sponsorship of concerts, plays, exhibitions and so on. Of course, we have our great cities, cathedrals and science and arts festivals, but they are not necessarily found in areas in which tourism is important and in which tourism may be declining.

When arts and science events are held--this point was made in an earlier debate--they greatly add to local tourism, as we have seen in the Bristol and Edinburgh science centres. Universities--I speak as a university professor--can help to ensure greater publicity and wider use of those centres, some of which, we read in the press, are in a precarious financial position. In France, the University of Poitiers, in central France, is close to a futuristic public science centre. To publicise it, the university regularly holds scientific conferences, and has even changed its postal address, which refers no longer to Poitiers but to Futuroscope. British universities could take similar steps. In fact, next month, London University will hold an open conference at the Science Museum. That is the sort of event that we should see more often.

On the last two factors in my list--food and the weather--tourism could benefit from more information. There are many excellent varieties of food and cooking in the regions of the UK, but they are not well known abroad, or even in the metropolis. I wonder whether the House of Lords could help in this context. Perhaps we could follow the example of the French Senate, which helped to popularise local dishes and to establish better links with the regions. Last summer, as Le Figaro described, there was a splendid occasion in the French Senate when it entertained more than 1,000 mayors from all over France, resplendent in their republican sashes, to a great party with all sorts of regional food. That is an excellent way of publicising the regions. There was doubtless a political element of schmoozing in order to be voted in, as they do in the French system.

Perhaps the UK Tourist Authority could organise something like that in the House of Lords. Within our regions there are some mouth-watering regional delicacies--Scottish herrings, Cornish pasties, our whisky, our beer and our cider.

Finally, I come to the UK weather which is major factor stated in relation to UK tourism. A recent visitor to the UK told me that he expected the weather to be dreadful but he was pleasantly surprised both by the weather and by reasonably good forecasts and a good presentation on the Met Office website. There is

25 Jan 2001 : Column 428

now a very good BBC weather website which also includes information on air pollution which, for some people, is as important as the weather.

Tourists to the UK are put off by erroneous impressions about our weather and would be encouraged to come to this country if the UK tourist boards, hotels and travel companies provided more information and in appropriate ways. Reasonably reliable--at about a level of 70 per cent reliable--forecasts are available for the weather up to 30 days ahead and sometimes even longer range forecasts are available. Those are issued not only by the Met Office but also by the European centre in Reading.

Another feature of the British weather which we should remember is that in local areas of the UK, local forecasts are available and are very important. It needs to be explained to tourists that there is extreme local variability in the weather. The average rainfall on Exmoor is 70 inches per year whereas 15 miles away on Saunton Sands it is often very sunny and the rainfall is only 25 inches per year. So that great British secret should be more widely shared and by doing so, we should attract more tourists.

7.53 p.m.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St Johns, for introducing this debate. I hope that I can make a modest contribution to it. I should declare an interest. For 30 years, I have been non-executive chairman of a small hotel group in Suffolk. Indeed, if any of your Lordships are in Bury St Edmunds, the Angel Hotel or the Marlborough Hotel in Ipswich awaits your presence.

What is anecdotally true of that small but significant group in Suffolk tourist terms is true of many others, certainly in the eastern region of England; that is, that foreign tourism is vital. Not only do foreign tourists, particularly from mainland Europe, visit all year round and provide a steady stream of visitors but they are also on the increase, despite the problems of exchange rates. To some extent, they have compensated for the decline in American visitors who, of recent times, have tended to go more to mainland Europe because they get a bigger bang for their buck.

In 1999, there was a radical rearrangement and reorganisation of the tourist industry as a whole when the English Tourist Board was done away with and the English Tourist Council was created. Today, we do not have an English Tourist Board but we do have a British Tourist Authority and under it, as has already been mentioned, the country boards and seven or eight English regional boards.

My first suggestion is that there is an apprehension among many in the tourist industry in England that the demise of the English Tourist Board has been a drawback; that there is today no formal focus for the English tourist industry. There is an informal linkage between the regional boards but they lack a national focus, a national driving force. At a time when the difference between the countries comprising Britain is growing and when the Scottish and Welsh boards are

25 Jan 2001 : Column 429

making great play of their independent or quasi-independent identity, there is a sense within England that it would be a good idea to try to resuscitate the English Tourist Board, even though that would leave the BTA with strategic responsibility for what would then be four national boards.

My next suggestion is that the Government could assist the English Tourist Council, which has responsibility for quality in particular in the tourist industry and for a degree of strategic planning, in a project which it has identified as being crucial for the industry as a whole--an integrated national booking network. I echo that from the experience I have. To create such a national network in the present age would be of immense national benefit. We have a high proportion of what one might call discriminating, high-spending tourists. To enable them to log onto a reliable network which would give them instant access to all the places which they may wish to visit or stay in could only be of considerable long-term value to British tourism as a whole. As has rightly been said, in the modern age, tourism, especially for countries with a declining manufacturing base, is not only hugely important now but will go on being more and more important.

Next, I want to refer to the regional boards related to the BTA. In saying what I am about to say, I do not want in any sense to detract from the appreciation which is felt for the work of the BTA, which is, principally, selling Britain abroad. But the regional boards could be given more core funding to enable them to do more of their own overseas selling. Of course they have significant internal obligations too but I am told and believe that if they could have a modest amount of extra core funding devolved to them, they would be able to use that highly effectively. After all, we live in a tourist world in which difference, distinctiveness and diversity are key to success and where more and more, the tourists of the future will look for those qualities in their favourite destinations. It is partly because of that that I believe that there should be an increase in funding for regional boards, still working with and under the BTA, and with an increased level of independence, so that they can come forward with their own very regional, very different initiatives to bespoke groups and audiences abroad. That is very often done in partnership with the private sector, whether it be transportation firms, hotels or travel agents and--let us not forget--local authorities. As your Lordships will know, they show great adeptness in gearing up the core funding that they receive by those joint ventures with the private sector and with local authorities. In terms of value for money, I suggest to the Government that they might look at increased spending in that direction.

Lastly, a point on deregulation which has already been mentioned, and the Pink Guide. In the country, most of the hotels are family businesses. They are not part of national or international hotel chains. They do not have access to the sort of capital to which the public companies have access. The regulatory overburden strikes them particularly hard. I should like to think that the Government would, wearing their

25 Jan 2001 : Column 430

deregulatory hat--and earlier this afternoon, we have been thinking of nothing else--focus closely on what further action may be taken to diminish the existing burden of regulation and to make some distinction in relation to the smaller outlets when it comes to further regulation.

The growth of tourism is particularly important for rural areas. Their economic viability has been sapped, particularly in relation to agriculture. There is some potential for compensation in the continued steady growth of tourism in real terms. Again, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for introducing this debate.

8 p.m.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, first, I have an interest to declare. I am a director of British Airways which is a company that is heavily involved in the tourist industry. It is active in the marketing of British tourism overseas. In fact, the noble Lord, Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge, the chairman of British Airways, dearly wanted to take part in this debate but unfortunately it clashes with an engagement promoting tourism.

As my noble friend Lady Anelay has said, tourism is one of the country's biggest industries. I sometimes think that the term "industry" conveys the wrong impression when talking about the tourist sector. Many people still consider that the term conveys the concept of large organisations involved in one or two major product lines such as the motor industry, the steel industry or the shipbuilding industry.

However, the tourist industry is different in so far as it is extremely fragmented. Therein lies its strengths and its weaknesses. The fragmentation ranges from bed-and-breakfast establishments on remote Yorkshire moors to large international hotel groups spread throughout the country, car hire companies and visitor attractions such as, if I may say so, the London Eye.

That fragmentation results in a fragmented approach to marketing. Some tourist organisations are brilliant at marketing and others do not have a clue. That is where help is needed, in view of the huge earnings of the industry, detailed by my noble friend Lady Anelay.

The funds available from the British Government to help to market British tourism are minimal. The British Tourist Association received a grant of 33.5 million in 1998-99. In that year overseas visitors spent 12.5 billion in this country, not to mention the 3.17 billion that was spent on carriers for their journeys to and from this country. That equates to a total of 15.7 billion and the grant of the British Tourist Association of 33.5 million equates to a marketing spend, according to the back of my envelope, of about 0.4 per cent of sales. The Minister, with his great background in marketing, must find that figure quite derisory.

I want to make four short points. First, tourism is a world industry, a global industry. Nearly all countries compete for tourists and promote their countries to a greater or a lesser extent than we do. We still have the

25 Jan 2001 : Column 431

edge. I am told by so many people that the United Kingdom is one of the top places that people throughout the world want to visit. However, it is essential that we do not rest on our laurels. We must not think that, because we have a great history, wonderful attractions, marvellous museums, wonderful scenery and all the other things of which we all aware, we can get away with being passive in our marketing.

I believe that it is essential that we extend our marketing to new countries in the tourism field; for example, to countries like China or Russia or some of the central European countries. Many people will say that there is not a lot of money nor many wealthy people in such countries who can afford to travel to countries such as the United Kingdom for holidays and tourist visits. I believe that that is a myth. In almost every country there are many wealthy people who, at this moment, are being wooed to visit other European countries, America, South America or other continents.

I am told that our embassy in Beijing is attempting to acquire "approved destination status" enabling wealthy Chinese to travel as tourists to the United Kingdom. There seems to be a problem with disjointed, as opposed to joined-up, government. The FCO is all for it, but the Home Office is not at all happy. The reason for the latter is that apparently the Home Office is concerned about the cost of people jumping ship. If we acquire "approved destination status" in China, that would enable the BTA to develop a market for UK tourism there. I am afraid that the Treasury would probably have to provide a little more money. That is a serious point. Australia and New Zealand have "approved destination status". They will benefit hugely and we need part of the action. Secondly, we have to ensure that every experience that a tourist has in the United Kingdom is a good experience. Tourists will not have ecstatic experiences all the time, particularly if they are caught in the middle of the Yorkshire moors in a shower of rain, although, according to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, there is no rain!

Currently a "Britain Assessment" exercise is being carried out, comparing our tourist offering with that of our major competitors in the world tourist market. We have to be absolutely certain that the reality matches the hype. First impressions are so important and I fear that frequently we fall down in that area. The Government really must help the sector by endeavouring to make arrival in this country a pleasant event and seamless onward travel the norm.

Not all our points of entry can be classified as being pleasant and sometimes there appears to be a complete lack of co-ordination with regard to onward transportation. I am sure that all noble Lords read with shame the description of tourists, and our fellow countrymen, who after the Christmas break arrived at Stansted airport to find that the last train into central London had left 30 minutes before the inbound flight arrived. What a welcome to the United Kingdom that

25 Jan 2001 : Column 432

must have been. In the dead of night and freezing cold, people spent four hours or more attempting to get taxis or other forms of transport into central London.

This House is truly bored by recurrent complaints about transport in London, but I am convinced that it has a negative impact on our tourist sector. Up to now we have been able to balance that with all the good things in London, but if the transport is not fixed--and fixed fairly quickly--we are in danger of losing a large chunk of our tourist industry.

Thirdly, another area where government assistance would be most valuable, and would not cost much, is hotel classification. Currently, there is a voluntary scheme which is an experiment that is planned to last three years. At the end of the three-year period (at the end of calendar year 2002) if it is thought that the voluntary scheme does not work, the Government will do a great service to tourism if they introduce a compulsory scheme. There is such a huge variation between hotels within the same classification band, particularly at the lower end of the market. It is imperative that every tourist has confidence in the classification system. If they know they are going to a three-star hotel, they should have some idea of the basic provisions in that classification. I hope that the Minister can give us some assurance on that.

Fourthly, the shortage of skilled labour is hitting tourism as it is hitting other sectors. We really must encourage more young people into the sector. About two years ago when I visited a resort in Arizona, all the staff appeared to be young--up to 25 or 26. They were bright American students or young American men and women who seemed to have a great enthusiasm for making each of the guests feel extremely important and satisfied. They encouraged visitors to think positively about doing things outside the particular resort, asked whether they could get more tennis partners for you and so on. I wonder whether that could be replicated here in a similar type of organisation. I doubt it.

We need to build up respect for careers in the tourist sector. People in the sector can have really interesting and worthwhile careers, but in this country there is still a stigma attached to the idea of serving people. How many people who come from, say, Portugal or France want to be served by or received in the hotels by Portuguese or French people? Tourists do not visit London or anywhere in the UK to be served or met by people from their own country. I would not want to go to France and be met and served by English people.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page