HC Deb 18 November 1986 vol 105 cc429-30
10. Mr. Coombs

asked the Paymaster General when he next expects to meet the chairman of the English Tourist Board to discuss prospects for tourism in England.

Mr. Trippier

I will be meeting Duncan Bluck, the chairman of the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourist Board on 10 December to discuss, among other issues, the prospects for tourism in England.

Mr. Coombs

Will my hon. Friend raise with the chairman of the English Tourist Board the idea of a major new initiative in 1987 to encourage tourists to visit the English regions rather than staying in London? Does he agree that that would benefit the hard-pressed people of London as well as boosting employment prospects in other parts of England such as Wiltshire?

Mr. Trippier

I certainly agree with the latter point made by my hon. Friend. I am anxious to come up with new initiatives in 1987. I must say that we have just launched a couple of new initiatives with the ETB where it has mounted a campaign with the four northern regional tourist boards to promote the north country rather than London and the south-east. In addition, there is a new off-season promotion featuring the west country and the heart of England. All that is very much in line with the new policy in the Department to encourage the dispersal of visitors to the regions.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Is the Minister aware that Stockton council is doing its best to promote tourism in the Teesside area, which, as the Minister will know, has the highest level of unemployment in Great Britain? Will he look sympathetically at proposals that the council have put forward for the development of the Preston park estate and museum which has the Stockton-Darlington railway running through it, which could become a major tourist area, creating jobs and income for the region?

Mr. Trippier

I am anxious to look as sympathetically as possible on the project that is being put to the ETB at the moment. Certainly it falls within the guidelines of the new tourism policy, in that we should be supporting major tourist attractions so that they can act as a honeypot to attract more wealth to those areas and increase jobs in tourism. I shall certainly look at the matter sympathetically.

Mr. Gale

Further to the answer that my hon. Friend gave to my hon. Friend the Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen), when he meets the chairman of the ETB, will he discuss ways of promoting further career prospects in tourism in schools, so that young people are made further aware of the excellent prospects in that industry?

Mr. Trippier

That is the most important point that could be made on this subject. That is the reason why last Friday I launched the video that is going to 7,500 secondary schools. We hope that it will be viewed by upwards of 1.6 million schoolchildren. Again, it is an attempt to attract them to tourism as a serious career.

Mr. Loyden

Does the Minister accept that it is a fallacy to imagine that tourism can resolve the problem of unemployment to any extent, taking into account present unemployment in areas such as Merseyside? Is he aware that unemployment is rooted in the Government's economic policies? When they change, and when we get manufacturing industry back into operation, real, proper jobs will be available, but not until then.

Mr. Trippier

I must say that the hon. Gentleman seems to be out of step with some of his colleagues in his own party in the Merseyside area, which will not come as a great shock to the rest of the House. I happened to be in Merseyside only yesterday. Several people there appreciate the development of tourism in the Merseyside area, particularly as a result of the development of the docks, the garden centre and the tall ships race, of which they are extremely proud. That has created more wealth in that area and more jobs.

Mr. Maclean

When my hon. Friend meets the chairman of the ETB, will he stress the special problems faced by Cumbria, which is very keen to encourage tourists to the region, but has suffered enormously in the past couple of years through other problems caused by other industries outwith the control of the tourist operators?

Mr. Trippier

I understand exactly the point that my hon. Friend is making. As a result of representations that he has made to me, and which I in turn have made to the ETB on his behalf, we have now managed to secure increased funding from the ETB for my hon. Friend's constituency and the surrounding area.