HC Deb 29 January 1991 vol 184 cc786-7
13. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest figures for overseas visitors (a) to the United Kingdom and (b) to London.

Mr. Jackson

According to the latest available figures, overseas residents made an estimated 15.6 million visits to the United Kingdom during the first 10 months of 1990 and 4.3 million visits to London during the first six months of that year.

Mr. Bowis

Does my hon. Friend agree that the figures reflect great credit on everyone working in the tourist industry and that they should help to tide it through the uncertain period that lies immediately ahead? Does my hon. Friend accept that once the uncertainties of the Gulf are over and tourists come back to London in large numbers, the number of coaches will multiply? The off-street parking facilities in London are inadequate. Will my hon. Friend talk to his colleagues in the Department of Transport and to the local authorities to see whether that can be remedied?

Mr. Jackson

I am well aware of the problems of coach parking. Primary responsibility lies with the borough councils, but, as my hon. Friend knows, Transport Ministers are actively considering the issue in conjunction with all the other interests and organisations involved. The working parties are due to report early this year.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Minister aware of the strong opinion in the tourist industry in Wales that the way in which the British Tourist Authority markets Britain overseas leads to a preponderance of visitors coming to London and to an inadequate proportion coming to areas such as Wales? Will he discuss with the BTA the representations from the Welsh tourist board for it to have the right to market Wales overseas?

Mr. Jackson

I shall draw that to the attention of my colleague who deals with this matter and to the BTA. As I said in an earlier answer, it is important that we should seek to diversify the range of areas that attract tourists to this country. I go along with the hon. Gentleman on that point.