HC Deb 21 January 1980 vol 977 cc4-6
2. Mr. Best

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has for further stimulating the tourist industry in Wales.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Wyn Roberts)

The tourist industry makes an important contribution towards the economy of Wales. The Welsh Office and the Wales Tourist Board keep under constant review the most effective use of the available resources.

Mr. Best

I welcome my hon. Friend's confidence in the tourist trade and his acknowledgment that it is a major contributor to the Welsh economy. But, although I recognise that the Beavis committee came down against compulsory registration in the tourist trade, will my hon. Friend accept that it is extremely worrying that, for instance, whereas it is estimated that some4,000 farm houses participate in the tourist trade, only 1,400 of them are registered? Will my hon. Friend pay close attention to encouraging more registrations so that the tourist trade can be yet more effective in the economy of Wales?

Mr. Roberts

I understand that Professor Beavis's working party on the registration of tourist accommodation recently completed its review, and I await the Wales Tourist Board's comments on its conclusions, which are, I believe, favourable to the continuation of registration on a voluntary basis. But any moves further to assist and encourage the scheme of voluntary registration must await our consideration of Professor Beavis's findings.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

In view of the hon. Gentleman's commitment to tourism, can he say what reduction he has made in the budget of the Wales Tourist Board for the coming financial year?

Mr. Roberts

Subject to the approval of Parliament. I expect the grant-in-aid to remain at this year's level in real terms. The allocation for assistance to tourist projects has been cut by £200,000. But, after allowing for inflation, the amount will be probably a little less than this years allocation of £1.716 million.

Sir Raymond Gower

Is my hon. Friend aware that in Wales, as in the rest of the United Kingdom, the cost of hotel bedrooms is excessive compared with that in France, which has greater overheads and higher food costs? Will he look into this and consider how the French have made such a magnificent achievement in keeping down the cost of hotel bedrooms and, indeed, the cost of meals by having compulsory fixed-charge meals at all establishments?

Mr. Roberts

I am sure that my hon. Friend's remarks will be noted by the Wales Tourist Board. I shall certainly draw what he said to its attention and to the attention of other bodies connected with hotels and catering.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas

Has the Minister considered the adverse effect of the latest outbreak of arson on the part of nationalists in Wales on the future of tourism in Wales and the fact that many tourists will be put off coming to Wales? What does he propose to do about it?

Mr. Roberts

The hon. and learned Gentleman will know very well that the firing of homes is a matter not for me but for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. However, the hon. and learned Gentleman is quite right that it may have a very adverse effect on the tourist trade. It is, of course, to be deplored by all of us in this House and outside in Wales.