HC Deb 13 February 1990 vol 167 cc131-2
10. Mr. Harry Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of the United Kingdom's gross national product is represented by tourism income.

Mr. Nicholls

The total turnover of the British tourist industry was estimated to have been £19 billion in 1988. That represented 4 per cent. of the total United Kingdom gross national product.

Mr. Greenway

How do our earnings from tourism compare with those of other countries? Will the Minister confirm that the number of jobs in tourism has risen by 20 per cent. over the past 10 years? Will he try to divert tourists from watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace every day to enable some of us who have never seen it to do so?

Mr. Nicholls

I should like to think that I could solve my hon. Friend's problem, but I suspect that it may be beyond me. My hon. Friend is entirely right to refer to a 20 per cent. growth in jobs in the decade to September 1989. We rank after the United States, Spain, Italy and France in the world league which, given the size of the United States and the more beneficial climate of the other countries, is a remarkable achievement.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Minister aware that there is a feeling in Wales that we do not maximise our attractions to overseas visitors because, unlike the tourist boards for England and Scotland, the Wales tourist board has no authority to market Wales overseas? Instead that is undertaken by the British Tourist Authority. Will he have a word with the BTA to ensure that at least by 1992 Wales has direct access to the EEC?

Mr. Nicholls

I am sure that the BTA hopes that it properly represents the United Kingdom abroad in trying to attract visitors, but I shall ensure that the hon. Gentleman's anxieties are made clear to the BTA.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my hon. Friend agree that one reason why tourism is such a massive earner for the United Kingdom and employs so many people is the fact that it has a long and distinguished record of providing training for its employees? The service sector needs no lessons from the Opposition on how to provide training, and the example of the whisky industry is as good an example as I can give.

Mr. Nicholls

My hon. Friend makes a valuable point. It is also one of those industries where the diversity of jobs available to those who want to work within it is absolutely endless.