HC Deb 20 December 1999 vol 341 cc512-3
8. Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

How he is encouraging the use of IT to promote tourism in England. [102002]

The Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting (Janet Anderson)

The Government's strategy, "Tomorrow's Tourism", has many IT initiatives for tourism in Britain. The English Tourism Council is working with industry partners to help tourism destinations to make appropriate use of IT, both for consumers and to sustain competitiveness.

Mr. Miller

My hon. Friend has seen some of the exciting new tourist attractions in my constituency, which, incidentally, attract some 5.5 million day visitors, for which there is little recognition through the standard spending assessment. Does she agree that Warner Cinemas, Blue Planet, Cheshire Oaks and others could benefit from working together, using some of the new technologies jointly to promote those superb new facilities?

Janet Anderson

My hon. Friend is right. I had the opportunity only last week to see at first hand the successful co-operation between my hon. Friend, his local council, Warner Cinemas and Cheshire Oaks retail development to attract millions of day visitors to his constituency, but the use of IT is important in further developing tourism. That is why the English Tourism Council, through its tourism technology working group, has already produced guidance entitled "Impact Through IT" for England's tourism organisations. We will provide a progress report on the development of Destination Management Systems for the tourism summit on 1 March next year.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

I wonder whether the Minister can help me. When will the English Tourism Council be allowed to market itself and its services?

Janet Anderson

The hon. Lady will know that we were keen to ensure that the English Tourism Council provided much-needed research for the industry throughout the country, which it had been difficult for the English tourist board to do. She will also know that the establishment of the council has provided additional funding for the regions. We are looking to the regions to improve their marketing as a result of that additional funding, and we shall make announcements shortly.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

Does my hon. Friend think that there is a place for developing IT for specialist tourism industries, such as industrial heritage? I particularly have in mind the designated status that the cotton mills in her constituency and mine have received today, which is a welcome move.

Janet Anderson

My hon. Friend is right. His constituency is next to mine and we both welcome that announcement because we have many industrial heritage attractions. He is also right to highlight the importance of new innovative forms of tourism. The British Tourist Authority, to which the Government recently allocated an additional £5 million, is launching 36 new websites that will highlight those new forms of tourism, which have huge development potential. He mentions industrial heritage. Other forms of tourism that the Government are anxious to promote are sport tourism—I am discussing a strategy on that with my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport—and film tourism.