HC Deb 25 April 1983 vol 41 cc588-9
7. Sir Anthony Meyer

asked the Minister for Trade whether he has any plans for the reorganisation of the regional tourist boards.

Mr. Sproat

The regional tourist boards are voluntary, not statutory, bodies, but I have been considering their role and receiving evidence from and about them in my review of tourism, the conclusions of which I hope to announce to the House shortly.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is widespread support among all political parties in Wales for the work of the Wales Tourist Board and that whatever may be the arguments for rationalisation in this sphere—and there are strong arguments—it would be extremely unpopular throughout Wales were the work of that board to be swept away?

Mr. Sproat

It is certainly true that there are considerable areas where rationalisation would be welcome in the whole of the tourist structure. The Wales board is largely a matter for the Secretary of State for Wales.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Would it not be a good thing, and in accordance with Government thinking, if the other tourist boards were also voluntary, not statutory?

Mr. Sproat

That is as may be, but it would require primary legislation.

Mr. Moate

Does my hon. Friend agree that the tourist information centres at some of our ports and airports are of the utmost importance? In his review of these matters, will he do his utmost to ensure that those information centres continue?

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend has been a strong fighter for tourist information centres in his area. He may like to know that there are now about 500 such centres throughout the country — a very strong network indeed. A distinction must be drawn between tourist information centres funded by local authorities and those funded by the English Tourist Board. It is those that have recently been called into question.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

There are many beautiful areas that are never seen by overseas visitors. Will the Minister do more financially to encourage tourist boards to give more information to visitors to ensure that they go outside London and see our beautiful country? Will he take note that the Yorkshire tourist board is a very good board?

Mr. Sproat

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the Yorkshire board and I hope that all the regional tourist boards will take note of his wise words.

Mr. John Fraser

Does the Minister intend to increase or decrease, Government assistance to tourist boards?

Mr. Sproat

The hon. Gentleman will have to wait for an answer to that question.