HC Deb 16 March 1998 vol 308 cc934-5
4. Mr. Cohen

What estimate he has made of the benefit to the tourism and leisure industries of promotions targeted at gay people. [32900]

Mr. Tom Clarke

I am monitoring the impact of the recent British Tourist Authority-London Tourist Board campaign to attract gay visitors to Britain.

Mr. Cohen

Is there a new attitude in Government circles towards gay and lesbian visitors to these shores, which respects the legitimacy and importance of such tourism? The United Kingdom caters for a diversity of interests and life styles. Will the Minister confirm that the pink pound is welcome here? London is an attractive place to visit. A gay and lesbian film festival is currently being held, but there are excellent clubs and places to visit all year round. Will the Minister disregard past prejudicial reviews and back the London Tourist Board's campaign to reach gay people?

Mr. Clarke

My hon. Friend's points are, as always, well made and well taken, and I am glad that he has drawn the matter to the House's attention. The role of the London Tourist Board is to optimise tourism revenue in the medium and long term for the benefit of London's economy. In fulfilling that role, it is entirely appropriate for the board to target all aspects of the market.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

Will the right hon. Gentleman try to be true to the spirit of his Department's original title of Department of National Heritage? I hope that the tourism and leisure industries are full of gay people. If the hon. Gentleman is referring to homosexual people, he should say so.

Mr. Clarke

With respect, the right hon. Lady spent a long time at the Department and has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. People who work in tourism understand the importance of the role that they play: it is important for the economy, the environment and our social fabric. I do not think that many people will have much regard for the right hon. Lady's view.

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