MS JANET ANDERSON, a Member of the House, Minister for Tourism, MR BRIAN LEONARD, Director for Regions, Tourism, Millennium and International, and MR SIMON BROADLEY, Head of Tourism, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, examined. Mr Fearn 1. We have been questioning this morning, and it appeared in the debate which we had yesterday. It is a pity that nobody was there from tourism, which usually happens, not because of your fault but probably because of pressures elsewhere. Tourism came into practically every debate that we had, every speech that we had. I asked questions, which were not answered by the Minister at the time but may be you will be able to answer this morning. The BTA need œ8 million on top of the œ2.5 million which they have had already as of yesterday. It has not come forward. It is supposed to be coming - when? The ETC should also be getting something towards the œ35.5 million which they have asked for and so far have had œ3.8 million. What follows? Are you in touch with the Treasury or not? (Ms Anderson) I can assure you we are in touch with the Treasury on an almost constant basis, and more so recently than ever before. Can I say first of all that I was in the chamber towards the end of the debate. Sadly, I could not be there for most of it because I was chairing a foot and mouth tourism summit in the Department for Culture Media and Sport, the third summit we have had in the Department with the industry, and that has proved very useful. I am aware of the points that were raised. You will know that the BTA and the ETC have had an additional œ6 million, a initial payment in recognition of this particularly difficult situation we are facing. œ3.8 million of that has gone to the ETC and œ2.2 million to the BTA. As the Prime Minister made plain yesterday in Prime Minister's Questions, there is to be a further allocation of funding and an announcement will be made in the next few days. 2. Do we have any clues? Are we going to do part of it, and a bit more? The boards only have œ1.4 million from the ETC, and œ1.4 million between all the boards is negligible. They are not going to be able to do much with that to help any kind of farming community which runs tourism establishments as well. It will not get down to the level that I, for one, would like it to go to. (Ms Anderson) We have probably been the first government to recognise the importance of the regions and in fact, when we replaced the English Tourist Board with the English Tourism Council in 1999, that did release some extra money to go to the regions. Of the œ3.8 million that has gone to the ETC from that initial allocation of œ6 million, it is my understanding that œ2 million of that will go down to the regional tourist boards. There has also been a grant to the RDAs in the most seriously affected areas of œ15 million from DETR and we hope very much that a significant amount of that will go to help the tourist industry. 3. I was in Cumbria, Devon and one or two other places, and in Cumbria especially, in the lakes, it was very busy at Easter. Following that they said that bookings from abroad had gone down dramatically: 40 Americans down to 14 in one hotel, and no Japanese in another because they had cancelled. I know you have ambassadors and this idea of ambassadors going over there and coming over here. What good do you think that is going to do? (Ms Anderson) We are using every opportunity to get the message across that it is still perfectly safe to come to Britain and have a very enjoyable holiday. When we realised there was a problem with overseas visitors several weeks ago now, I immediately went out on a two-day visit to New York and did back-to-back media interviews, met with representatives of the tour operators, with the travel trade press, to try and emphasize that it was perfectly safe. We did realise that many of our potential overseas visitors were confused. They were confusing foot and mouth, or hoof and mouth as they call it in the States, with BSE, with mad cow disease. We were asked questions such as, "If I come to Britain will my hands and feet drop off? Will I have to go through a vat of disinfectant? Will I have to bring my own protective suit or will the government provide one?" There were all sorts of misconceptions which we had to do our best to dispel. My visit was followed by the Scottish Minister for Tourism, and the First Minister in Scotland, Henry McLeish went out, as did the Chair of the London Tourist Board, and the Secretary of State, Chris Smith, is in Canada at this very moment doing a similar exercise. But, of course, the British Tourist Authority have done an excellent job in trying to cure some of these misconceptions, not least a visit they organised last week at very short notice, with people coming over from all our main markets, both long- haul markets and in Europe. They were taken up to Scotland, they were taken to Wales, they were taken to the Lake District, and I met them on Friday afternoon, when they were entertained to tea by the Prime Minister's wife at Number 10. It is quite clear that that visit had been a great success and they were going to go back to their home countries and try and paint a more accurate picture of what was happening in Britain. 4. So they did see the rest of Britain? They did not just stay here and go to Chequers? (Ms Anderson) They certainly did not. I do understand your point about empty hotels. I do not under-estimate the problem. I had a meeting on Monday of this week with 45 owners of country house hotels, who want more than anything to get their visitors back. That is what the industry wants more than anything. Mr Maxton: Would you agree with me, Minister, that all your efforts and the efforts of Henry McLeish and the other ministers involved and all the tourist boards and areas are almost impossible because of the way in which the British media has dealt hysterically and illogically with the foot and mouth crisis? Are not all the misconceptions that the potential American tourists have about Britain due almost entirely to the message they are getting from the British media? Would you join with me in making a plea to the media that they start acting sensibly and logically and for the good of the country, rather than just for cheap headlines? Chairman: And that the BBC might recognise that the word "British" is included in its title. Mr Maxton 5. I agree with you. I think the BBC's coverage of the foot and mouth disease has not been very much better than any other part of the media's. (Ms Anderson) I entirely agree with you, Mr Maxton, that a lot of the coverage has not been helpful, and in fact, when I was in the States, every television interview I did - and I did a lot - was preceded by that image of a bonfire of burning animals. I think actually it was the same picture they were showing all the time. One of the misconceptions was that there was a funeral pyre of burning animals in every field in Britain. It was important to try and dispel that misconception. There has been some suggestion to us that, as the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, there should be something we can do to try and persuade the media to behave more responsibly. As you will know, Mr Maxton, we have very much an arm's length relationship with the media, and I think if we were to attempt to change that, there would probably be an outcry. But I do agree with you; it has not helped. 6. You can at least plead for some logicality. Maybe that is an impossible plea but it is worth making. (Ms Anderson) We can try. Mrs Organ 7. At the point that the announcement was made by MAFF on 23 February that all footpaths would be closed as a result of infection, did that not ring huge alarm bells in your Department as to what would happen to tourism, particularly local tourism in local areas, and what did you do as a result of that? How did you get involved at the early stages? (Ms Anderson) We did not have a crystal ball; during February we did not know how long this was going to go on. I can remember the first meeting where we discussed this at Number 10, and I was asked what I thought the effect on the tourism industry would be. I said, "If this problem is fairly short-lived, they will get through it, but if it goes on for much longer, for too long, then there will be a problem." So we were certainly looking at it in February and asking the English Tourism Council for their advice. The advice we got initially was that in any event, February and March were generally quite quiet months for the tourism industry, so there was no cause for real concern. On 26 February we made sure that our website was linked into MAFF guidance. On 6 March we held our first tourism summit - we had the third one yesterday - with people from the industry to decide what we should do. As a result of that, we have liaised closely with all the other government departments involved, we have given advice about staging events, about opening attractions and so on. We have also, in consultation with DETR, emphasized the importance of opening those parts of the countryside that can safely be opened, and we were very pleased that by Easter the National Trust had been able to open about 200 properties, and English Heritage about the same. We now have over 1,000 miles of towpaths opened which were closed, and I was very pleased this morning to learn that in Buckinghamshire, for example, where previously all the footpaths were closed, there was a blanket closure, 50 of them have now been re-opened. We are working through the rural task force, and we are working with our colleagues in local government associations to do all we can to assist the further opening of footpaths and indeed, the Prime Minister has given Beverley Hughes, Minister at DETR, that specific responsibility. 8. But as it unfolded and became more and more serious, and there was recognition that we were coming up to Easter and there were cancellations from overseas visitors, and the whole thing was beginning to go pear-shaped, at what point did you recognise that you would need to go to Treasury and say, "We need some money. We need some assistance so that can market abroad and market internally, and that we can give assistance"? At what point did you wake up to the fact that this was really very serious, and that Treasury had to give you funds to do a job? (Ms Anderson) We are always trying to put the case for additional help for tourism, Mrs Organ, because that is our job as a government department, a sponsoring department. I am not sure I could give you the precise date. I am not sure whether Mr Broadley can assist me here. (Mr Broadley) It was early March that we asked the BTA and ETC to get their ideas together. As you have said, Minister, the first advice we had was that February and March are traditionally quieter periods in the countryside, but that if it carried on until Easter, that would be a very serious problem. So you commissioned the proposals which I imagine have been discussed already this morning, and you first reviewed them with them on 15 March. (Ms Anderson) We subsequently put in a bid for extra funds. 9. Would you not agree that there is a feeling at the heart of government that we were actually prepared to sacrifice what we all recognised is a very successful and growing sector, ie the tourist industry, in order to safeguard the meat and livestock sector? (Ms Anderson) I think it is very important to get a balance here. I have been very struck as I have travelled round the country, principally to the most affected areas, Cumbria and Devon and Cornwall and so on, at the quite close relationship between the farming community and the tourism industry. In fact, in many areas they are inextricably linked and many farmers, of course, have been encouraged by the government to diversify into tourism, and there are something like 12,000 farm attractions around the country. It was obviously in the interests, first and foremost, of both those sections of the rural economy to get the foot and mouth situation under control, because, as I say, while I think the tourism industry has welcomed some of the assistance we have been able to come forward with to help them over that initial difficult period with cash flow problems, they will tell you what they want more than anything is to get their visitors back. While we have done our best to emphasize that there are still things people can do, that large parts of the countryside are open, until it is truly open, we will not get all of those visitors back. 10. Lastly, what do you think of the suggestion that was made at the debate last night by Dale Campbell-Savours, who obviously represents a constituency that has been extremely hard hit, about the possibility of a job retention subsidy? Many people in the tourism industry have seasonal workers, they are now laying them off because of what is happening, and they are looking for assistance to keep the people in the jobs over this period when there is actually no income, and having a job retention subsidy. (Ms Anderson) I think that is a very important point, and the longer it goes on, the more important it will become. I am sure that is something that will be considered by the rural task force, which is constantly keeping under review the kind of help that is available. For example, many people will be eligible to Working Families Tax Credit, in addition to some of the other measures we have brought forward, but we constantly have to keep that under review and make sure that people are aware of what they are entitled to. We have always said that if we need to do any more, then we will, because the tourism industry is very important. It is worth œ64 billion a year to the national economy. I think it is 3-4 per cent of GDP compared with farming, which is about one per cent. So we do not under-estimate the importance of it, and we also understand the seasonal nature of employment and the difficulties that presents. If there is anything else we need to do, we will certainly do it. Ms Ward 11. I certainly welcome your comments in support of the tourism industry, so why, prior to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, was it proposed to cut the budget of the British Tourist Authority? (Ms Anderson) The British Tourist Authority now gets œ35.5 million a year from us, so I am not aware that that was a cut. In fact, I think there has been a year on year increase. 12. It was proposed to reduce the funding in 2001-02 and then onwards. Only because of foot and mouth disease have they been given additional funding, which is obviously desperately needed. (Ms Anderson) That is certainly true. The additional œ6 million has been in recognition of this particularly difficult situation. But we would always argue with our colleagues at the Treasury for better funding for tourism. We always have done so and we will continue to do so. That applies both to the English Tourism Council and to the BTA. 13. As I understand it, the BTA were facing reductions in their budget. We also understand that the English Tourism Council has no budget for marketing, and that many of the regional tourist councils have no budget for marketing. Quite frankly, that is not good enough given the importance of tourism, and what you rightly said about its place in the economy. You have travelled around, you have seen not just what is going on in this country but you have been abroad, and I am sure you have made comparisons with the level of funding that is made available by governments aborad for their tourism agencies, both for domestic markets and international. What is the comparison? Do you not think there is much more that we need to do? (Ms Anderson) I would certainly like to do more if we can. That is why I very much welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement yesterday that there is to be additional funding, and we will hear what that is to be in the next few days. The reason for setting up the English Tourism Council without a marketing role was that when we reviewed the support for tourism in the country, there was a feeling, I think, which was shared by everyone, including the industry, that there was a need for a leaner, more strategic body, that would provide some much-needed leadership and research facilities for the industry. In tourism is you cannot be complacent, you cannot sit still; you have constantly re-invent yourself. That is why I very much welcomed, for example, the work that the ETC has done on our seaside resorts. They have produced a very helpful report on how we might do more to re-generate our seaside resorts. Many of them are facing quite difficult times, and it is interesting that those that have tried to re-invent themselves - Brighton, Bournemouth, Morecambe and Scarborough - are doing much better now. So there is a need for that constant research to help the industry understand what the changing consumer demands are and to take steps to meet them. 14. There are lots of other problems that tourism in this country faces, and has been facing in the last year, other than foot and mouth disease: the high level of the pound, general costs, fuel costs, the cost of travel. One of the points that I made to earlier witnesses was that I understand now the cost of travelling on the train from London to the Lake District can range from anything up to œ250, and for that you could have a couple of nights away in most European cities; you could certainly have a flight to the States. What is the government doing to try to bring together all of these different organisations and agencies that could assist in trying to make tourism in the UK easier and more effective and more cost-efficient, given that 90 per cent of the market for tourism is domestic and not international? (Ms Anderson) We understand that very well, and when we produced our strategy for tourism, about two and a half years ago now, I think potentially the most important proposal in that, upon which we have now acted, was to set up a ministerial summit each year. We have now had two of those. The last one was on 6 March, rather aptly timed because it was by then that we began to understand the effect of the situation on the tourism industry. That brings together ministers from every other government department, including the Treasury, and we ask them to make sure that when they are making policy, when they are taking decisions in their own individual departments, they think about the impact on the tourism industry. As a result of the first tourism summit, for example, MAFF announced the enterprise scheme which made funding available to farmers to diversify. You have raised transport. That is a very good example. You can go to almost any resort or any tourist attraction and there will be some kind of transport issue. It might be that there is only one road going in and one road going out, and they get very congested in the summer months. It might be, as you say, the cost of rail travel. We use that ministerial summit all the time to emphasize to our colleagues in other government departments when they are taking decisions to think about the likely impact on tourism. It could be employment, law it could be licensing, it could be all sort of things. Planning is something that comes up. One of the things that we achieved from this year's summit was a review of signage in DETR, because we get complaints from people all round the country that practices in terms of signage are inconsistent, that some people get signs to their attractions and others cannot. That is an example. We are talking about acorns rather than oak trees, but we are building on that. It is something that works very well, for example, in a country like Greece, where tourism is even more important than it is to us here. Mr Keen 15. My constituency of Feltham and Heston has no castles, stately homes, or beaches but people often forget the 55,000 permanent jobs at Heathrow Airport. My constituents suffer the environmental damage and noise but they are proud to contribute. Is BAA's income taken into account when calculating the tourism figures? (Ms Anderson) I am really not sure. I am going to ask Mr Leonard to comment. (Mr Leonard) One of the interesting things about tourism is that, while it is an industry in certain respects, as you have referred to it this morning, a hospitality industry, hotels, attractions, for example, it is also an activity which has fingers in all areas of the economy, such as in transport. We have been looking these last few months at the use of tourism satellite accounting, which would measure those kinds of figures. It is very much part of the government's strategy to treat tourism not just as an industry in the sense that it has hotels and it has attractions that charge people, but as a whole range of what the economists call demand-side activity, which includes purchase of transport. That is very much part of the work we are doing strategically, and it is part of the reason why ETC was given a strategic role to look at these aspects. Malcolm Bell, who was before you earlier, has done some very good work in the South West to measure the amount of money spent in the South West on marketing every year by the public and private sector. It is œ170 million spent in the South West every year on marketing, almost all by private bodies. It is the strategic capturing of all that expenditure which is very much part of the government's tourism strategy. (Ms Anderson) If I can just add to that, if we could establish a tourism satellite accounting - an we do not do it in this country and it is, as Mr Leonard has said, something we are looking at in the Department - it would be very welcome to the industry because we need a proper, accurate measure of what tourism does mean to us as an economy. On your point about Heathrow, Heathrow is very important. Previous witnesses from the English Tourism Council mentioned a report produced by the British Tourist Authority called "First Impressions", and this was about the impressions that visitors get when they first arrive. Heathrow is obviously a very important port of entry, and I have set up a group in my Department with representatives from the public and private sector to look at that to see if we can do more to make our ports of entry more welcoming. For example, we some time ago persuaded the Home Office to make arrangements to be more welcoming to some of our visitors from overseas, so that when people come in on tours, which is particularly a problem with Japanese visitors, they can be got through the procedures more quickly in recognition that they are genuine tourists. We constantly look at this; it is very important. Heathrow is a very busy airport, and anything we can do to make it more friendly we will do. 16. Because Feltham and Heston is not a mecca of tourism - it was a joke that the two best restaurants were the north and south services on the A4 at Heston, but the Minister knows that is not the case because when she came, though not in the same capacity, I took her to the Passage To India, which is where the champion curry chef cooks every day. That leads me on to another point. A lot of my time at advice surgeries is spent trying to assist relatives of constituents of mine to get visas to come in for holidays to the United Kingdom. We are actually stopping potential tourists from coming in. I think that is a point worth noting. It is not really your Department's remit. (Ms Anderson) No, it is not my Department's remit, but that is a very good example, Mr Keen, of why I believe the ministerial summit, the tourism summit we hold once a year, is very important because it is exactly those kinds of representations that we can make to our colleagues at the Home Office, and we do. 17. As the Foreign Secretary said the other day, Britain is a multi-cultural society, and that has an attraction for overseas visitors, I believe, and I think we should take account of that. (Ms Anderson) It certainly does, and the meal I had at Passage to India was excellent and I remember it very well, thank you. Mr Wyatt 18. Can I ask about the budget for the British Tourist Authority? I can give you the Hansard quote, but it does say that BTA was going to have a reduced budget for the year 2001-02 and subsequent years until the foot and mouth broke out. What is the story? Are they are are they not? (Ms Anderson) We are reviewing the BTA's position at the moment. as I have said, Mr Wyatt, I am very pleased that we are to be allocated more money for tourism, as the Prime Minister announced yesterday, and I look forward to hearing exactly how much that is in the next few days. 19. But is it not remarkable that an industry that is one of the biggest in Britain should be seen to be getting a cut? It seems to me that if the turnover for tourism is œ6 billion - is that what you said? (Ms Anderson) The contribution to the economy is œ64 billion. It is three to four per cent of GDP. 20. So a budget of œ35 million is something less than 0.1 per cent to actually encourage one of the fastest growing industries in the world. It just does not add up. (Ms Anderson) As I say, we would always like to do better, and we are reviewing the BTA's position at the moment, but they use that money very effectively. They have 27 offices in our key markets abroad, and they also use the money that they are allocated by the government - that is the grant in aid figure - to lever in a lot of private money as well. We think that they do an excellent job, but we are always ready to listen to requests fro more, because we do understand the importance of the tourism industry. Chairman 21. Mr Donoghue pointed out in his evidence that in our report on the tourist industry we cited the fact that the entire marketing budget of the British Tourist Authority for the whole of the Americas - north, central and south - is less than the tourist budget for the state of Virginia. (Ms Anderson) As I say, Mr Kaufman, we are always willing to listen to requests for more and we will always do what we can to help. Mr Wyatt 22. Yesterday I gather you met your counterparts from Scotland and Wales. I think this is the first time all the ministers have met. Is that right? (Ms Anderson) Yes, it is. 23. The other three are domiciled not in culture, media or sport. They are domiciled in economic or business areas in their own assemblies or parliaments. Given that, do you really think on reflection that DCMS is the right place for tourism to be? (Ms Anderson) I am bound to say yes, because it is my job and I enjoy it very much. On a serious point, yes, I do think it is the right place to be, and for this reason. I think it fits in so well with the other responsibilities in the Department: with culture, with sport, with our historic heritage. I think that is where tourism belongs. 24. You do not feel that the DCMS is seen as a weaker department by the Treasury, and that tourism being in it, it weakens the position of tourism? As it is one of our bigger industries, it makes it much harder to argue for. I will give you an example. In Ireland ten years ago they halved the rate of VAT on accommodation and within four years they tripled the number of visitors. We have the highest VAT rate on bed and breakfast and hotel rooms, as you well know. It would be nice if that could be cut immediately, now, in crisis, to get B&B back. It is mainly British people who actually go for B&B. Because DCMS is perceived by the Treasury to be a weaker department, it means tourism is weakened. (Ms Anderson) We are the smallest department; that is certainly true, but I was very encouraged when we had what I describe as our "OFSTED". We were the first department to be "OFSTED-ed". That report said we were a department that punched above our weight in Whitehall, and I think that is certainly true. If there is one good thing to come out of this current situation, it is that people do now understand the importance of tourism. They understand that it is the fastest growing industry in the world and that we are going to have to compete very hard to try and keep our fair share of it, as previous witnesses have outlined. I am very sad that it should have happened in this way, but I think tourism is now much higher up everyone's agenda. 25. Finally, we have this rural task force. I was in Aldburgh at Easter. Cambridge Norwich, Colchester, Ipswich, Bury St Edmonds as destination towns and cities where people go for a day or two and then move on. These are not rural; these are large urban areas. Given that what has happened this year may have an effect on tourism for the next two or three years, so may people will think twice about re- investing; they might get through this year - or they may not - but they certainly will not come back if they are in the business, what we probably need is a tourism regeneration package, and that is millions of pounds, and that is needed tomorrow really. I do not feel that sense of urgency, that the government understands this. (Ms Anderson) As I say, the Prime Minister said yesterday that there was going to be an extra allocation of funding, and he will be announcing how much that will be in the next few days. I have said many times, Mr Wyatt, that when this is over there will be a need for a marketing campaign. It is recognised by DCMS, it is recognised by ETC and particularly by the BTA, to restore confidence in Britain as a visitor destination. There is no doubt about that. Our greatest fear is that visitors may feel deterred, that our domestic market will be more likely to go overseas and our visitors from abroad will be more likely to go elsewhere, and once they have been displaced, it will be doubly difficult to get them back. So there is no doubt that we need to do some intensive marketing when we have the all-clear to do that. Miss Kirkbride 26. I am not sure you have really explained to this Committee why it was that, as the responsible minister, who fully accepts that there is a growing tourism market and that we do not actually get our fair share of it; we have a deficit, you were prepared to preside over a shrinking budget for BTA. (Ms Anderson) As I say, BTA fr the present year are getting œ35.5 million. We are currently in the middle of reviewing their remit and what they do. We have to reach a conclusion on that. They are now getting extra money, I am very pleased to say. 27. Why did you plan to give them less? (Ms Anderson) I am not sure we ever did. (Mr Broadley) The plan is that they should receive œ35.5 million in each of the next three years. That is the same in cash terms, but obviously with inflation... 28. It is a real-terms cut. Why was that planned? (Ms Anderson) We felt at the time that that was sufficient for BTA to do the job they were doing, and it is a job they do very well. 29. You have told us, Minister, that actually we have a shrinking market for tourism, yet it is growing worldwide. How could you possibly think it was right to have a diminishing budget? (Ms Anderson) It is growing worldwide. It is a global market. We are competing with all sorts of other countries. It becomes more and more competitive. 30. So why cut the budget? (Ms Anderson) As I understand it, we were not cutting BTA's budget. They have now had additional money and they are going to get some more. 31. Mr Broadley just said that it is a real-terms cut implied in the budget for the forthcoming years. (Ms Anderson) I think I can proudly stand on our record of the money that we have allocated to the support of tourism, and as I recall, when we came into government we were faced with a situation which had been left to us by the last government which had reduced the funding for the English Tourist Board from something like œ25 million at its height to less than œ10 million. We have got that back up to œ12 million, and I would like to do more, but at least it is being increased. 32. So do you support the bid for the œ8 million that the British Tourist Authority would like? (Ms Anderson) We are in discussions with the Treasury about the bids that have been submitted by both the ETC and the BTA. The final allocation is, of course, a matter that has to be decided collectively by government. We will continue to discuss that with the Treasury and, as the Prime Minister said yesterday, there will be an announcement in the next few days. 33. What is the delay? (Ms Anderson) We have to look very carefully at the business plans they have submitted. We are doing that now, and we will reach a decision in the next few days. 34. You have had these plans quite some time now. They told us this morning that it was extremely urgent, not just a question of regaining future markets but actually shoring up the one that might still be there before many more businesses go bankrupts. What on earth is the delay? (Ms Anderson) It certainly is extremely urgent, but if we are going to allocate more public money to the funding of tourism, we have to make sure that that is going to be well spent, and that means we have to consider very carefully the business plans that have been submitted. 35. Your government has just provided over œ62 million worth of government advertising in the first three months of this year. Surely, within that context, the œ8 million that BTA want is a perfectly reasonable sum considering it is going to shore up four per cent of GDP. (Ms Anderson) I am very pleased the Prime Minister was able to announce more money yesterday, and we look forward to an announcement of how much in the next few days. 36. But do you not think if your government has spent œ62 million on advertising other things, it should spend œ8 million advertising Great Britain? (Ms Anderson) I think it is very important that the government should advertise in all sorts of ways, to advertise what it does to help the people of this country. I think it is important that we have public money to support tourism. We are doing that, but we will always make the case for more, if a good case is made to us. That is why it is important for those business plans that have been submitted by the BTA and the ETC to be properly considered. 37. But you have looked at those. Do you support them? (Ms Anderson) We are going to reach a decision in the next few days. 38. You said earlier that the 6 March meeting was going to be in the diary anyway, and it was not actually a response to foot and mouth. Is that right? (Ms Anderson) The 6 March was the annual tourism summit. The first FMD summit was actually about a week later, on 15 March, because we had had a report from Elliot Morley, the Minister at MAFF, at the annual ministerial summit, about the foot and mouth situation, and at that stage we were still not sure of what the effect was going to be on the tourism industry because we were not sure how long it was going to go on. When we realised quite quickly after that that we were in for a fairly long haul, that was when, on 15 March, we did our own foot and mouth tourism summit, the Secretary of State and I, at DCMS. 39. So it never crossed your mind that pictures of animals burning in the United Kingdom could actually have an impact on the foreign market? (Ms Anderson) It did cross our mind and that is why I went on a visit to the States as soon as we realised the effect it was having. 40. How long after was the visit to the States? (Ms Anderson) It was two days. 41. How long after the crisis had broken out did it take you to go to the States? (Ms Anderson) We went to the States on 19 March, which was four days after the FMD summit at DCMS. 42. So about one month into the crisis. (Ms Anderson) As I say, at the beginning none of us had a crystal ball, none of us new how long it was going to go on. As soon as we realised that it was going to be potentially serious for the tourism industry, we took action. Mrs Golding 43. You and I were both at the reception n the Jubilee Room last night and you spent a very long time there. What I was picking up was that though people knew there was help available, they did not know how to access it. Is there a need for a one- stop shop for information and could this be arranged? (Ms Anderson) I think that is now happening. (Mr Leonard) Yes. DTI are now providing a single focus for the business needs of individual businesses, where they can find advice on what they can do. There is lots of other advice available too, and we are bringing that together, with the assistance that is available through other measures, such as through the Regional Development Agencies and Inland Revenue. It is all coming together. It is very easy to access that advice at the moment. 44. How do they access it? People there last night did not know. (Mr Leonard) I am sorry to hear they did not know, and I hope they feel free to contact any of the helplines which are very widely broadcast at the moment. But a lot depends on what they need. If they need some specific advice on a specific point, for example, on taxation, the Inland Revenue helpline has been very busy recently and has helped 3,217 businesses by agreeing to defer œ28 million in tax, VAT and National Insurance, for example, since the crisis began. If a business has an interest in rate relief, obviously that is for the local authority. You can make the links between all of these at the moment, but we are still working with other government departments on making it even clearer. (Ms Anderson) I think in the early days there was a problem. I am not denying, Mrs Golding, that there is not still a problem about getting the information out to people, but it is clear from the figures Mr Leonard has quoted that people are increasingly aware of what is available. I know the tourist boards in the regions and more locally are trying to get the information out, and certainly in Cumbria the tourist board has done a lot to get the information out. I do not deny there is probably more we can do. It is clear that people are now getting in touch with the Inland Revenue to defer PAYE and National Insurance, and they are getting in touch with Customs & Excise on VAT. There has been a lot of misinformation out there about interest payments. The Inland Revenue is not going to charge interest on deferred payments of PAYE or National Insurance, and the Customs & Excise are not going to charge interest on deferred VAT. The other misinformation that seemed to be doing the rounds was to do with the Small Business Service Loan Guarantee Fund, into which the government has put another œ120 million to underwrite loans of up to œ250 million to these businesses that are affected. There were reports circulating that this was no good because the banks were going to charge 8.5 per cent interest. The situation is that the government has said it will not underwrite any loan on which a rate of interest greater than 8.5 per cent is charged, but it is perfectly open to people to negotiate with the banks lower rates of interest, and we are encouraging the banks to be sympathetic to that. 45. Finally, to the future. There have been problems about the quality of some of the hotels in this country, and also about the cost of them. What is going to be done in the future about looking at the quality of hotels and the training of the staff? (Ms Anderson) I think that is absolutely key, and we have at the moment a voluntary accommodation grading scheme which the English Tourism Council, the AA and the RAC are cooperating on. It is stars for hotels and diamonds for guest houses. Around 50 per cent of our accommodation providers are now in that scheme, but we need to make much better progress. On training, Springboard, which deals with the tourism and hospitality industry, does some excellent work and they get lots of money levered in from the private sector. For example, the Savoy Educational Trust is always working with them to try and do something about raising the level of skills. As the English Tourism Council said, one in four of all new jobs created in the last ten years has been in tourism, hospitality-related activities. We have to make sure the training that people give and the courses that people go on at their local colleges are all up to scratch. That is something we are discussing with the DfE. We do that all the time. Quality is key. If I can finish by mentioning one particular seaside resort, that is Morecambe. They took a very brave decision to pull down 25 per cent of their B&Bs, the inferior accommodation, and to replace it with open spaces. Morecambe really is on the up and up. It is helped by the statue of Eric Morecambe as well and the Rare Bird Trail. That gives you an example of the kind of decisions people are prepared to take because quality is key. In terms of cost, increasingly as we have those chains such as Travel Inns and Travel Lodges and so on, which are not luxurious, but they are clean, though very basic, people know what to expect, at a reasonable price. They, I hope, as we have more and more of them, will help to keep prices down. Ms Ward 46. Minister, I am sorry to come back to the point that I raised earlier about funding the BTA. I do realise that government is recognising the problems and putting in the additional money now. My point is about the strategy and the funding of BTA. You have said there was no proposed reduction in funding. In the Department's own annual report for BTA, the grant in aid for 1999-2000 is œ36 million, for 2000-01 œ37 million, 2001-02 right through to 2003-04 is down to œ35.5 million. There is no doubt that there is a small increase between 1997 and the current date, but the forecast is for a reduction in the funding. Even with the additional income that you have rightly talked about that BTA are able to get from other sources, they will have a reduction in their income between 1997 and 2003, where it stood at œ50.3 million in 1998-99, down to œ49.5 million in 2003-04. Is that not the wrong way for us to go about boosting tourism, by cutting the BTA's budget? (Ms Anderson) I will ask Mr Broadley to come in here. I think part of the reason for this is the funding which goes to London, which now goes to the GLA. (Mr Broadley) Yes, it is the whole reason. The BTA was given money which was automatically passed to the London Tourist Board in the past. With the creation of the GLA, this money is now going to the GLA, so it looks from the table as though the money has disappeared from the budget but it was not part of BTA's core expenditure in the first place. That is the answer to the question on the œ35.5 million. (Ms Anderson) What was your other question? 47. My point is though it still looks as if BTA have a smaller budget when they are trying to market Britain abroad than they have had. Only now are we giving them additional money to deal with foot and mouth disease and the problems around that. Even with the London element taken out they still have less money to market Britain - that is not London, that is not the region - abroad. That is not the right strategy for us promoting tourism and recognising how important it is to our economy. (Ms Anderson) As Minister for Tourism, I am always ready to argue for increased funding, and that is why I very much welcome what the Prime Minister said yesterday, that there is going to be extra money. There is no doubt the initial œ6 million extra allocation has helped and we look forward to an announcement in the next few days of an additional allocation which I know will be welcomed by everyone. Mr Fearn 48. I would like to end on a happy note. The greatest picture of survival of tourism and farming comes from this little calf which escaped the pyre. Everybody, at home and abroad, is talking about this one little aspect. Are you going to use it? I hope you will put out the word. The Prime Minister has seized on it by allowing this little calf to survive and not be slaughtered. It is the greatest thing that has happened in tourism for a long time. (Ms Anderson) I hope very much that, as Phoenix appears to have risen from the ashes, when this is all over we will have a re-invigorated and more successful tourism industry in this country. Chairman: That was sweet. Thank you very much indeed.