Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20
THURSDAY 26 APRIL 2001
HAMBLIN, OBE, AND
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
(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.
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.
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 dayI do not know what the figures
are for first classdo 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.
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.
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
(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
(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.
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