§ 6.7 p.m.
§ LORD HAIRE OF WHITEABBEY rose to draw attention to the recent Annual Report of the British Travel Association; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. In a way, I am sorry that I should be rising at this late hour to move the second of two Motions to-day, but because the Report of the British Travel Association is a real success story and so exciting, I am really happy to move it, even at 6 o'clock.
§ This debate is occurring at a time of the year when our newspapers and magazines attract advertising to the tune of some £10 million to tempt some of us abroad this summer. Some 4½ million people will succumb to its blandishments. It is not part of my intention this evening to try to wean them away. I am just happy to draw the attention of your Lordships to the other side of the coin, to the phenomenal success—and I think I use that word quite deservedly—of our own British Travel Association. As your Lordships know, the B.T.A. is the accredited agency appointed by successive Governments, charged with the responsibility to promote Great Britain as a holiday country and to attract foreign visitors. It is really a co-operative, one might say, finding the money to achieve these ends partly from the Government and partly from its own members on a pound for pound basis. Last year the Government contributed £2 million. For this reason, if for no other, I think your Lordships will be interested to know how the money was spent, and we will ask the Government, through the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes, whether they are satisfied that the money was well spent. This Report should provide the answer.
§ British tourism has become our fourth largest export industry. From 3 million foreign tourists in 1965 it earned the sum of £360 million. This is a record. Its growth rate last year is worthy of attention: it was 14 per cent. up. All this, my Lords, in ten years—from 1 million visitors in 1955 to a total last year of 3 million visitors, and when it comes to dollar earnings this industry is away out 433 in front. The £81 million which we earned from United States' visitors in 1964 was more than the total dollar sales of motor vehicles and aircraft combined, at £68 million; more than the machinery we sold to the United States of America, at £59 million; and more than our old friend, whisky, at £46 million.
§ In a year or two, tourism will be our top export industry. The 1970 estimates give us 4 million visitors and more than £500 million of earnings. Yet somehow this industry seems to have escaped the real attention of the Government, or even a dynamic push. For example, in the much-applauded National Plan, out of a total of 400 pages of that remarkable document, only six lines were devoted to the tourist industry. I have no interest to declare this evening except that of hoping for a happy holiday, but I must say that this kind of figure deserves all the credit and the honour that the nation and the Government can give.
§ However, new trends are now appearing. The international tourist trade has become highly competitive. Other countries, some with few natural resources except the sun, sea and sand, are finding that there are real prizes to be won. Thus Spain, for example, last year increased its contribution to tourism by as much as 121 per cent.; Belgium's was up by 106 per cent.; Holland's by 97 per cent.; the contribution of the Irish Republic—and the money is spent well on some of their excellent advertisements—was up by 84 per cent.; and Italy's contribution was up by 22 per cent. Yet in this same period last year we increased our contribution by a bare 14 per cent. We shall have to do better than this. If we are going to earn the £500 million by 1970, as the estimators say, we shall have to spend more than the £2 million we spend now to get it.
§ At this stage I should like to ask my noble friend a question. Is the pound-for-pound method the best way of raising the necessary funds to promote this industry, especially if it is the top dollar earning industry? For example, the whole of the retail trades in this country, which must get quite considerable assistance from the millions of overseas visitors who come to us, contributed last year the sum of £2,750 to the British travel industry, and it is on this kind of contribution that the Government's contribu- 434 Lion also depends. I consider that this contribution by the retail trades is lamentable.
§ Again an increase of another one million visitors within the next five years will place considerable strain on our hotels, motor inns and catering establishments, our ports and airports, and our recreation facilities. Under our present arrangements, our tourist and hotel industry builds, extends and modernises from its own resources. It gets no subsidy for structural work. Compare this with the assistance given to new factories making for exports, or compare it to the contribution made by other Governments. For example, if I may quote again the Irish Republic, they contribute a total of 20 per cent. as direct grant to hotels and other accommodation being built. The industry gets no special loan assistance; it would like in certain approved cases to be given loans, for example, for a 25 year period, which could be guaranteed by the British Travel Association or by a corporation set up for the purpose. Again it gets no tax or rate reliefs. Repairs even are chargeable to the capital account and not allowed as revenue. In the Irish Republic they are allowed two-thirds exemption for a period of seven years, but not here. Yet in the new phase of accommodation building for tourism the emphasis must be on medium or low priced accommodation, and many more hotels must be built.
§ Nor does the White Paper recently published (Cmnd. 2874) on Investment Incentives mention hotels or tourist accommodation. The hotel industry may be in for a boom time, but if we are to spread new hotel accommodation into the Provinces and to some extent away from London there must be inducements. London has in the past been too much the magnet; it takes over 50 per cent. of our tourist spending. I think we could designate certain areas as tourist development areas and give the B.T.A. power to approve applications for subsidy especially on the tourist routes and near the ports.
§ I want to say a few words with regard to the new recreation areas and the contribution they can make to tourism. We all look forward to the new Countryside Commission planned by my right honourable friend the Minister of Land and 435 Natural Resources, and we await the White Paper promised by him. But it is evident to those of us who study these matters that another of the new trends which are appearing in tourism is the greatly increased and greatly increasing traffic from European countries to this country. Already the tourists from France and Germany together almost match the figure of American visitors to this country. And this is likely within the next few years to be a major breakthrough in British tourism. This development is likely to be mainly of motoring visitors. They are likely to be motoring families. They will have a far greater proportion—or so it seems on the Continent—of campers and caravanners than at present.
§ One of the interesting points is that this tends to abolish the language barrier. The language barrier has been overcome. That is due to a combination of the car, the caravan or tent, and the supermarket. The super-mercado, as it is called in Spain, is now everywhere on the good camping sites on the Continent. There is the same range of goods, the same packaging. You fill up your basket, pay your money, and not a word need be spoken. So it is with the launderette. It would help even more if we had a decimal coinage system.
§ What are we doing for these new, mobile tourists? We lag behind the Continent in the provision of caravan and camping parks equipped with the facilities and amenities the continental expects and finds in other countries. We need rapid improvement of most of our camping sites. We need the setting up of a network of transit sites. But whether it is the municipal authority or the Countryside Commission or the National Parks or the Forestry Commission or the private operator which is concerned, there will be a need for grants or loans or inducements even to produce the right kind of holiday camps. There will be a need for accelerated planning with favourable consideration of suitable applications. There will be a need for Government guidance and the issue of model standards for tourist and transit camps and layout plans, such as were produced a few years ago in connection with our Caravan Sites Development Act, in connection with residential caravans. There may be a need for exhortation or 436 guidance to petrol stations, wayside inns, such as are now produced by the brewers in increasing numbers and of such good quality, and motels to provide space suitably laid out for transient tourists, with toilet facilities, eating facilities and the rest. And there should be a directive from the appropriate Government authority to local authorities and all others outlining the assistance which they, the Government authority, can give.
§ I mentioned earlier the need for modernisation of ports and airports. Even London Airport, as those who use it know, is now largely overtaken by the increased traffic there. We shall need schemes for modernisation of our port facilities for the short sea routes to the Continent, and I am happy to find in this same White Paper a very high priority given to the provision for modernising equipment at the ports. We must welcome the greatly improved facilities for passenger reception, but of course more are needed. Baggage handling is still too slow. It is frustrating, after one has been on an hour's flight from Paris or Dusseldorf, or Brussels or Belfast, to arrive at London Airport and have to spend another half-an-hour waiting to reconnect with your baggage. The new Executive coaches are a welcome innovation. We should also welcome, I think, the nine new car sea ferries and two air ferries which were introduced last year, and the six by sea and five by air which are planned for this year. The B.T.A. will certainly need to work for the abolition of any further frontier formalities and tourist red tape. There is one piece of red tape that I should like to see abolished: it must be psychologically painful to foreign visitors. I refer to the division into "British" and "Foreigners" when we line up for passport control on arrival at London or other airports. I can think of no worse way to begin a holiday here.
§ Now I should like to ask my noble friend a series of questions on the "et ceteras" of the tourist business. First there is the question of extending the season. I know from my short experience in the holiday hotel business that the short season is the bogeyman of the business. I know, too, that some 20 million people, out of a total of 31 million, take their holidays in July and August. The result is overcrowded 437 roads, overcrowded hotels, overcrowded trains and planes—overcrowded everything. Staggered holidays are indeed the answer. But will my noble friend tell us what success has attended the lead given in the White Paper some three or four years ago? What success has followed the attempt to move school examinations to May and early June? What success has followed the attempt to move the August national holiday from the beginning to the end of the month, and the attempt to fix the Whitsun holiday? An early decision on both these points is imperative. Your Lordships will note that I prefer to drop the term "bank holiday"; I much prefer the term "national holiday". I think the term "bank holiday" is thoroughly obsolete.
§ I would increase the number of national holidays by at least one. Great Britain is at the bottom of the league for national holidays. Some countries have many more. The new three-week holidays, or, soon, four weeks, if taken in two periods will help to break the myth in regard to August being the only month for holidays. People will find that other months can be equally enjoyable. Certainly something must be done to spread out our holidays. It is a gross waste of our national resources to find so many of our holiday places, hotels and halls closed for eight months of the year—unproductive capital locked up, dead; and the staff problems created in the hotel business are frightening.
§ Now a word about the licensing laws. These are still restrictive, especially in relation to a tourist drive. So many of our old regulations must be re-examined in the context of our new tourism—our all-out "Come to Britain" drive. Some urgent improvements are needed—for example, permission for the service of drinks with meals in hotels at any reasonable time. We shall have to be on our alert to avoid the Swedish method of serving a plate of plastic peas with drinks at all times. We should aim for permission for tourists in camps to be treated as residents.
§ Next, a brief word about roads, although so much could be said. It is obvious that a measure of priority should be given to the construction of new roads in tourist areas. This would happen automatically if we had caught the urgent 438 fever of tourism. But my main point here is perhaps a revolutionary one—namely, drive on the right. We are almost the odd man out here in Europe. It may be all right politically to "keep to the Left", but it is not all right for our Continental motoring tourists. "Drive on the right" will come sooner or later. Why not now? For several years now I have driven a British car with the steering on the left, and I must tell your Lordships that, if anything, I have found it safer. Going down a street with a long line of parked vehicles on the left it is safer to drive a left-hand-drive car. In any case, so many of our roads and streets are now one-way, not to mention the motorways and dual carriageways. This one simple decision could be the key to an enormous break-through for British tourism for travellers from the Continent. So many of them are frightened to come here when they think that we drive on the left.
§ On my list of "et ceteras" is the cleaning of public buildings and floodlighting. I think my noble friend should encourage our right honourable friend the Minister of Public Building and Works to embark on the policy to clean up all our public and historic buildings. We have had one or two notable examples lately. St. Paul's was cleaned up at the instigation of the then Lord Mayor of London. We have now seen Paris given a complete clean-up. More than ten years ago little Portugal showed the way by cleaning up all her national and public buildings. Our famous buildings, too, would shine after this clean-up treatment, especially in our new smokeless zones. Having cleaned them, we should encourage much more floodlighting and much more son et lumière. Turning to shopping, we should encourage shopkeepers to take full advantage of the 1950 Shops Act, especially in tourist areas. We should hurry on the proposed new Act, and we should expedite the introduction of decimal coinage. Above all, we should review the Sunday Observance Act.
§ My last "et cetera" is an important one—the need for large conference centres, in London and elsewhere. We need to provide one or more of these large international conference centres of a size equal to those found in many American centres. Their construction 439 costs would soon be paid for. Their success would be as lucrative of foreign currency as of American dollars. Incidentally, would my noble friend say what has happened to the proposed new Crystal Palace Exhibition Centre? This is a need on the export front on which I think the Government could give us much greater encouragement and assistance. Perhaps there is a lesson for us here, in the success of our gaming centres, though it is not too popular a plea to make. Britain is fast becoming an international gambling centre, with the inveterates flying over for the day, or, more likely, for the night.
§ It is no part of my purpose to-day to be a soothsayer. But it is fairly safe to sum up as follows: first, that holidays in Britain in the future will be holidays on the move; holidays in the motor age; holidays in an area and not a resort, with the emphasis on a few days here and a few days there. Accommodation whether in hotels, motor inns, or camps, will cease to be let on a weekly basis; so holidays will start and end on any day of the week. Secondly, they will be holidays in an age of leisure, an age of affluence. There will be the two-holiday year—perhaps a summer one and a winter one, or in the better weather of spring and autumn, or even, judging from the conditions at the moment, the better weather in February.
§ Affluence and leisure will mean the two-house family. Already we almost have the two-car family. We shall have the family house, near our employment or in the country, and our holiday house near the sea or by a lake, so as to have the benefit of the new water sports. This second house may be one of the new portable houses, or a large mobile home, or even a caravan. Or it may be, as with many now, a maisonette in a country block; or, as the Continentals have discovered, a flat constructed as part of a hotel and sold as a" detachable" unit, as need be, when required by the owner, but integrated with the hotel or block when not needed by the owner.
§ In future, it will be holidays in the new Britain, for a new Britain is growing up around us. Our new title will be "Come to the New Britain". We cannot hope to compete with the sun and sand of Europe. In the past we have countered 440 with the Beefeater, thatched cottage conception of Britain, and this has proved a magnificent magnet to Britain. Its magic has not been dissipated, even yet. But there will be so much more to see in future in Britain, with its new experiments in architecture, its exciting new housing, its new city centres, new shopping precincts, new festival halls, new recreation centres, and our own new Westminster precinct.
§ The future is indeed alive with imagination. Already we have the Britain of the new fashion, making Britain among the world's affluent teenagers the land of Mary Quant. We have the Britain of the new cuisine, with millions eating out and drinking their "red" and "white"—though the restaurants must learn not to pick our packets with their prices and, equally, must learn that our new diners-out do not want their dishes sold to them in the French language. We must learn to glamorise this new Britain, this new London which we are told has now become the Mecca of Europe, and keep our tourists here for longer than a few days.
§ Before I conclude, I would ask your Lordships to note that this Report records the multiplicity of the efforts of the B.T.A. and its staff to search out and promote markets abroad for British tourism. Their publications last year ran to 14 million pieces; their features appeared in the newspapers and magazines of some 50 foreign countries; their films and television activities are now available in 39 foreign languages, and are seen by an estimated 400 million people a year. These are only a small part of the Association's efforts which go to produce earnings of £360 million a year.
§ I have said hardly a thing about the activities of the Association to develop our own home holidays. Many noble Lords who are to follow me will, I hope, fill in the gaps which I have left. We should congratulate the many men and women on the board and in the council of the British Travel Association who voluntarily give their time to making British tourism what it has become—an economic and international force in the world, and whose efforts have made this Annual Report the dynamic document it is. I am happy to see the Chairman 441 of B.T.A. in his place to-day, and to know that he is to follow me. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 6.35 p.m.
My Lords, first I would thank the noble Lord, Lord Haire of Whiteabbey, for his courtesy in putting down this Motion and, in thanking him, it is appropriate that I should state my interest in the subject under discussion. This is not an interest in the normal sense of the phrase, which implies a financial interest, but having had the good fortune to serve as Deputy Chairman of the British Travel Association during the three years of the distinguished chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Mabane, and then to succeed him, and for the vast two years having had the honour to be Chairman of the Association, I have an intense interest in the subject and have some responsibility for the Report which is before your Lordships.
In less than two decades Britain's tourist industry has grown from practically nothing to become one of the most powerful forces in the country's economy. To-day, it is our fourth largest export industry and our biggest single dollar-earner. The noble Lord, Lord Haire of Whiteabbey, has given your Lordships the figures, which I will not repeat but merely confirm. As an export, tourism has developed at three times the average rate of this country's physical export trades. The national income from tourism is equal to no less than 7 per cent. of the value of all physical exports. A measure of the growth of the British tourist industry can be gained by a comparison between figures of tourist arrivals. In 1947, the first full year for tourism after the war, they numbered 400,000. In 1955 they passed the million mark for the first time. In 1965, ten years later, the total approached three million. More Americans came to Britain in 1965 than our total tourist arrivals from all countries in 1951.
Statistics are impressive, but they do not reflect adequately what has been achieved in Britain since the war. In the late 1940s the general attitude here did little to help the development of a prosperous tourist industry. We had always thought of ourselves as tourists, but did not think of ourselves as acting as hosts to tourists from other lands. We had to create a tourist trade almost from 442 scratch. We did not do this by copying what had been done by the traditional European tourist countries. Instead, we sought out new business and created a travel movement suited to Britain's special attractions.
A measure of the difference between Britain's tourist industry and that of any other European country is that the average length of stay of visitors to Britain in 1964 was 34½ days compared, for example, to 5½ days in Italy. Sixty-five per cent. of our tourist revenue comes from English-speaking visitors from other continents, while the major part of the traffic to most other European countries is from countries within Europe. As a result, by comparison with some European countries, Britain's overseas tourist traffic is low in volume though high in value. Our earnings are higher than the travel receipts of such competitive countries as Switzerland, Austria and France, and they approach those of Italy.
Examination of our tourist revenue shows that, in spite of certain difficulties, notably the absence of a semi-tropical sun and the existence of the geographic, price and psychological barrier of the Channel, we are more than holding our own in the share of the world tourist market. But times are changing, and we are once again faced by the task of creating new business. The principal source of Britain's tourist income continues to be the United States. In 1964, for example, only about 1¼per cent. of the population of the United States travelled overseas, so that there is still a vast untapped potential there. But perhaps more important, because it is even less developed, is our potential in Europe. Britain's share of the European market in 1964 was slightly over one million visitors, with earnings of the order of £50 million. Travel by Europeans within Europe is far greater in volume than travel by peoples from other continents to Europe. Some idea of the enormous growth which has taken place in travel within Europe may be seen in the examples of Spain and Italy, which, in the past decade, have witnessed sixfold increases in visitors from Germany and France, who are now much greater in numbers than the visitors from Britain.
In the early years of the "Come To Britain" campaign, after the war, Britain benefited from the large, natural source 443 of visitor traffic which the Commonwealth represented. To-day, for the first time, we are having to fight to increase, even to maintain, our share of traffic from what used to be an almost exclusive market for us. First, there is the increased promotional effort being made not only by our competitors in Europe, but by countries in the Americas and in Asia. Secondly, we have to remember that new generations of Commonwealth citizens no longer necessarily think of Britain as the home country.
The broad picture is one of increasing international travel to Britain, but one which is changing in some directions and is affected by the growing attractions of our competitors. Britain can benefit from this vast potential by taking action. The British Travel Association, as Britain's national tourist organisation, is, as your Lordships are aware, Her Majesty's Government's chosen instrument for the purpose of promoting travel to and within Britain. What is a national tourist organisation? Its organisation and function should vary according to circumstances. It can be, and often is, a Ministry of Tourism, but while that pattern might be appropriate in some countries, and notably the less developed countries, it has not been thought to suit Britain.
As your Lordships are aware, the British Travel Association is Government-sponsored. It is at the same time a co-operative representing about 6,000 local and national bodies and owners of tourist services and plant. It exists because tourists produce income for its members, as well as for the country as a whole. Its task is to create a demand for travel to Britain. It feeds back suggestions and ideas, and indicates to its members what it considers to be profitable lines for development. The Association has a three-fold task: first, of increasing the number of overseas visitors to this country; secondly, of fostering and developing travel within Britain by the British people themselves; and, thirdly, of encouraging in every way possible the improvement and development of tourist and holiday amenities and facilities within the country.
The affairs of the Association are directed by a voluntary board, who represent 444 not only the various industries which comprise the travel trade, but a wide range of other interests. In its work, the board is assisted by a number of committees which are also composed of representatives of a broad range of activities. The Association has a staff of more than 400, 150 of whom work in its twenty overseas offices, and here I should like to pay tribute to the loyalty of that staff. I have visited them in almost every country of the world, and they are a really splendid representative body and one of which the nation should be proud, because they are doing a marvellous job for us.
The Association's primary task is to create a demand for the destination—Britain. This is done by using the various modern techniques of promotion, including paid advertising, marketing schemes and public relations in all its forms. Its task is to create an appetite for travel to Britain, and to ensure that those whose appetite has been whetted by its efforts translate those desires into action by using the services of travel agents and carriers to come to Britain.
The funds with which the Association carries out its work derive from two main sources. First is the Government grant-in-aid, which in the current financial year will amount to approximately £2 million. The rest of the Association's revenue comes from membership contributions and from its own revenue-producing activities, such as the sale of advertising space in publications and the sale of those publications themselves. This revenue now runs at an annual rate of slightly over £500,000. The Association has, therefore, little more than £2½ million with which to promote Britain's tourist attractions in those overseas countries which have been shown by research to possess the best potential for visitor traffic to this country.
It is not claimed that without the existence of the British Travel Association there would be no tourist traffic to Britain. But it is fair to say that, without the Association's efforts, the annual revenue from tourism would be substantially less than it is to-day. Britain earns well over £300 million a year from overseas visitors, and, incidentally, hidden in that figure is £10 million contributed directly to the Exchequer by 445 tourists in the form of taxes paid on liquor, tobacco and petrol—a substantial bonus for the Treasury.
The promotion of Britain's tourist attractions is based on economic and market research. En order to create a demand, to produce traffic and to make sure that those who come here are satisfied, it is essential to discover where Britain's best tourist markets are, and what the tourists themselves want to do and to see. We have to compare these demands, actual and potential, with our tourist assets. Market surveys indicate the characteristics of Britain and of British life which appeal most to visitors from other countries. The nature of the appeal varies from one country to another, and we adjust our promotions and information work accordingly. Britain possesses certain basic powerful attractions which appeal strongly to foreign visitors—tradition, pageantry, great variety of scenery, ancient towns, fine buildings, a lively artistic and cultural present, and the powerful international magnet of London. Special emphasis on these attractions encourages business visitors, convention delegates, sporting enthusiasts and students of all ages, especially those who wish to learn English, to come to Britain. The task of promoting travel to a country where attractions for the visitor are varied—in part sophisticated, in part specialist, and by no means obvious—requires careful planning and skilful operation.
At the risk of repeating a point which the noble Lord, Lord Haire of White-abbey, has already made, I want to touch briefly on the so-called "Beefeater—Thatched Cottage" image. Britain's tourist publicity has been criticised in the past for the use of this. When it has been possible to confront the critics, it is usually true that they have not seen at first-hand the wide range of publicity material used throughout the world. Of course, Beefeaters and thatched cottages exist in the promotion, just as they exist in Britain, and just as they are part of British life and are admired by millions of British people themselves when on holiday. They represent our unique tourist attractions, unlike the Mediterranean beach which has no national monopoly. Any good salesman will emphasise the unique features of his product, and that is what we do.
446 Although the length of stay in Britain remains relatively long, in the past few years there has been a marked trend towards a shortening of the time spent here, reflecting the greater mobility of the traveller. This reduction in the length of stay is especially true of visitors from the more distant countries, which include the main sources of Commonwealth traffic. While the same trend has been observed in past years in most European countries, the average length of stay in those countries is now reasonably stable. This has occurred because the reduction in length of stay in any one place by touring visitors has been offset by the increase in the more stable recreational traffic, to such places as Mediterranean beaches and the winter sports resorts.
We grumble much about our climate, but it gives us the incomparable green of our countryside, and I submit that throughout the year it is the most temperate of any in the world, and is particularly suited to active recreation. We are now seeking to encourage the development of facilities for the enjoyment of outdoor recreation. This can cover a wide range, from sailing, pony-trekking, mountaineering and skiing to archaeology, birdwatching, potholing and underwater exploration. There is enormous potential for developing recreation in Britain, and we are only at the beginning of the upsurge in the demand for recreational facilities. We believe there is a need to design a national recreational plan to guide planning authorities. It might be on the lines of the comprehensive study of outdoor recreational resources recently carried out in the United States. The American survey starts from the assumption that different people, or the same people at different times, seek different types of recreation: some gravitate towards a crowd the sole aim of others is to escape from the crowd. To cater for both impulses—or, at least, to limit the progressive overcrowding of areas which need to be comparatively deserted to be fully appreciated—a system of classification of outdoor recreational resources is proposed.
The two recent "Countryside in 1970" conferences held in London under the chairmanship of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh brought together representatives of almost every organisation in Britain involved in activities 447 affecting the countryside. It was encouraging, at these conferences, to sense the note of urgency about the need to plan and a new determination to act in cooperation. The shape which our environment takes is of supreme importance to the domestic holiday trade, which is the backbone of British tourism. We cannot hope to hold our position among the major tourist countries of the world if we do not develop our facilities to ensure the growth of a prosperous home trade upon which a successful export business is based. About £450 million is spent by British people on holidays within Britain every year. The demand for holiday services is growing at a faster rate than the demand for most other products. Haphazard development of tourist services will not provide the right solution to a basic problem of expansion. Increasing mobility is one of the main characteristics of tourism to-day. The resorts still have a vital rôle to play in the development of tourist facilities and services, but, because of the increased mobility of tourists, they now have to be regarded as the centres of recreational areas rather than as destinations in themselves.
As well as the need to develop recreational areas to a comprehensive national design, the other important requirement is to ensure an extension of the holiday season. As the noble Lord, Lord Haire of Whiteabbey, has already pointed out, two-thirds—that is to say, 20 million—of all British annual holidays are taken in July and August. This means that much of the capacity of our holiday services and basic natural resources is not used during the rest of the year. The spreading of the load must continue to be tackled by such measures as altering the dates of public holidays and changing the times of school examinations. Much has been done already, both by Her Majesty's Government and by the educational authorities. The recent decision to change the Whitsun and August bank holidays to fixed spring and autumn holidays, respectively, is a valuable contribution towards the extension of the holiday season. I would urge further efforts to achieve a more flexible school holiday pattern. Such changes, even on a small scale, can have a dramatic effect on the economics of the travel and holiday industry.
448 I have spoken about some of the achievements and problems of the British tourist industry. What does the future hold for tourism? So far as Britain is concerned there is no reason why by 1970 we should not be attracting an annual inflow of at least 4 million overseas visitors, with earnings of the order of £500 million. Within a few years tourism could well become Britain's leading export trade. But this will not happen automatically. In addition to facing increased competition from other countries engaged in the job of attracting visitors to their shores, we must become competitive in catering for recreation sought by our own people. The British holiday market is to-day worth nearly £700 million per annum, of which over one-third goes abroad. This country earns approximately as much to-day from foreign tourism as our own people spend abroad. It is, however, a fine balance but the very concept of a travel balance-of-payments is misleading. If we had done nothing to develop our own tourist trade in the post-war years, British people would still be travelling abroad on holiday each year.
Greater numbers of people are travelling between countries every year. Over 100 million international visits were made in 1964—and this figure could easily double in the next decade. If Britain is to obtain her share of this vast international travel potential, we must increase our promotional efforts in existing markets, we must expand in new territories and, at the same time, we must take steps to ensure that the necessary amenities are available for visitors when they are in this country. The British Travel Association's expenditure on promotional development is in the proportion of roughly £1 per £100 of tourist revenue. My Lords, we shall need more money. I hope that your Lordships will agree with me that there can hardly be a better investment for Her Majesty's Government and for the interests benefiting from tourist spending.
The main responsibility for attracting British people to British holiday areas is that of the Area Tourist Boards (such as the Scottish Tourist Board), of the local authorities and of the industry. Compared with the lavish spending on promotion to attract British people to go abroad, our 449 own interests too often carry out publicity on too small a scale. A determined effort to improve travel and holiday information should meet with a ready response. People are far more mobile and are prepared to make more trips per year if they are told what is available.
Official tourist organisations and local authorities are co-operating with the Association in the operation of nearly 150 information bureaux on a nation-wide network. We have seen continued progress in the provision of new hotels, in the modernisation of existing hotels and in the provision of motels. In fact, Britain has witnessed one of the biggest hotel development programmes in Europe in recent years. Each year more hotels and restaurants in the country's main tourist areas and resorts are offering standards of cooking and service as good as any to be found anywhere. But there is a growing need for more moderate-priced, good-standard accommodation, especially outside London, and I should like once more to urge Her Majesty's Government to assist in creating favourable conditions under which the hotel industry can expand, especially in seasonal areas.
The new investment incentives, primarily to help the manufacturing and extractive industries, which were recently announced by Her Majesty's Government seem to overlook completely the service trades. These service trades, which represent new industries, tend to be forgotten. I hope I have demonstrated that in the tourist field they are big exporters. They create employment, and they can bring prosperity to the very areas which have no industrial base because of poor natural resources. Our economy and the economics of the richer countries of the world are recognised to be changing fast. It is the consumer trades and the service trades which grow fastest of all. Of course, there are difficulties in applying the same tax benefits to the service trades, but where there is a will surely there is a way. If Her Majesty's Government want to promote their growth, ways could be found of helping them. I have mentioned one bonus—the contribution of overseas visitors to direct taxation. The trades that help to provide that money could do with some of it ploughed back. There are other bonuses. The travel movement could lead to the 450 development of ancillary services, trades and secondary industries. It is a generator of business.
There have been great improvements in Britain's internal transport services—in roads and railways particularly. But we ask those concerned with planning to bear in mind the expected growth of tourism and the need to cater for increasing development in existing holiday areas and for greater numbers of visitors, particularly those travelling by car. Some action could be taken almost immediately. The development of Britain's internal transport system has not been matched by growth and improvements in the ancillary services; for example, in the moderisalion of transport terminals, including facilities for good standard catering services at those terminals; in the provision of camping and caravan sites, roadside lavatories, car-parking facilities, picnic tables and litter disposal facilities. There is need for regulation of taxi fares beyond the six-mile limit, to deal especially with the problem of London Airport, and for improvements in the reception services and facilities at the ports of entry, for the simplification of customs and immigration formalities.
More important, in the long term, is the need to seek the enthusiastic cooperation of many Government Departments, local authorities and national organisations which are affected in the tourist industry. Too often holiday activity is a by-product of their principal activity. The word "holiday" sounds frivolous compared with the more prestigious but sometimes declining basic industries of the country. So many different interests need to do just a little more to make a very big effect.
The planning authorities, in their respective areas, need the guidance of a tourist plan, as has been done in Scotland. Authorities, national and local, could improve signposting and street marking; they could encourage the growth of camping sites. The owners of land and historic buildings could do more to improve access, to provide reception facilities, to put their treasures on show in a more up-to-date manner. We have priceless treasures in this country in our museums; but is a visit to a museum considered to be an attractive pastime?
451 Since so many authorities own or control tourist assets it cannot be unreasonable to ask them to welcome developers—indeed, to seek them out; to adopt an active rather than a passive attitude towards visitor traffic.
As we continue to attract vast numbers of tourists to this country so will the physical capacity of this country to accommodate and serve them have to be developed. Experience in the past two decades has shown that, generally speaking increases in hotel capacity and visitor reception services and facilities have not been as rapid as the growth of tourism. Easing the burdens and frustrations of travel; providing accommodation of the right kind, in the right places, at the right times; ensuring that the very attributes which motivate travel, the qualities of landscape, the very flavour of places to be visited, are intelligently preserved and made accessible to the traveller—those are some of the main tasks to be tackled.
Tourism has two great characteristics. First, it is perhaps the greatest single force for peace because, by bringing people together, it enables them to understand each other. Secondly, it is big business—in fact, it is the world's largest single item of trade. Tourism to-day is vital to Britain's economy. This fact is one that must be recognised—by Government, by industry and by the public as a whole.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ EARL AMHERST
My Lords, like the previous speaker, I must congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Haire of White-abbey, for providing the opportunity for debating this important subject. I should properly declare an interest in that I am still on the staff of British European Airways, and British European Airways is interested in tourism. I do not intend to criticise the British Travel Association, as in my travels, which are extensive in the course of my business, I have seen the great work that they are doing overseas. In fact, I think it is useful to note that in the period under review of the Report that we are debating, the revenue obtained from tourism in this country was something in the nature of £300 million, of which a great proportion was obtained through the activities of the 452 Association with an expenditure of something like, I believe, £2.7 million. So I think one can say it is not bad going.
However, the Report is now some ten months old and many facets of the subject may have come into view since it was published. A very salient point in this Report is the fact that it regards the European market as our biggest potential for tourism. It also reports for 1964 an increase of about 14 per cent. over the 1963 figures; and it goes on to aim at a target of 4 million for 1970. I imagine that one of the objectives of our drive in tourism is to close the financial gap between money spent by our nationals going abroad and that spent by the Continental nationals coming to this country. If that gap is to be closed and if, as I hope, it is to provide surplus of benefit to this country, I would suggest that 4 million for 1970 is a little too low a target.
The Report draws attention, as have the two previous speakers, to many improvements necessary to amenities in this country, notably those of hotels, catering, port facilities and so on; and on page 13 of the Report there is a full list of these. I have little to add to that list, except possibly the provision of facilities for conferences, which I believe has already been mentioned; and I would also add a plea for more concert halls. These facilities, after all, are for the foreign tourist after he has arrived in this country; so, too, are the admirable offices of the Association in Regent Street. But I submit that our task now should be to examine what may still be done in his own country and own home town to induce the potential foreign tourist to come to this country.
I think it might be useful to examine the machinery we have for bringing this about. The previous speaker made considerable reference to the number of publications, films, throwaways, and information of all sorts that have been used—all of which are admirable. But I would submit that it is the live tourist office abroad which does as much good as anything else. I think I am correct in saying that there are some thirteen foreign national tourist offices in London. Yet of the offices that we have in Europe (and I think I am right in saying we have six), only those in Paris and Frankfurt are entirely and exclusively 453 occupied by the Association; the others are shared with various activities such as airlines and other ancillary businesses. But I am wondering whether, although this may be an economical thing to do, it is good to share offices with people engaged in businesses whose interests are not always precisely in parallel with those of the Association. Air lines, travel agencies, railway companies, shipping companies, et cetera, are interested in taking travellers out of this country as well as into it, and to those points where their business indicates the best return. So I think that it is not necessarily always a sound thing to share offices with these people.
My Lords, another matter which I think has to be looked at from the point of view of the potential visitors is our national image abroad. Reference has been made to the fact that our entertainment industry—I use the word "entertainment" to mean everything that comes, from a classical concert to a rock-and-roll dance; anything you like—is hedged about very generally by restrictive laws, regulations and licences of all sorts. Reference has been made to the British Sunday, which is not encouraging to foreign tourists. One can imagine a tourist coming to this country, without a great deal of money and with no friends with whom he can stay. It is a pretty bleak prospect for such a person to come to London on a Sunday and find everything tightly shut up, until about seven o'clock in the evening when there is a slight relaxation. He is much worse off if he finds himself in Wales or in Scotland on a Sunday. It is enough to drive him to drink—if he can find any in either place.
All these things will cost a great deal of money and in this respect the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, said that the Association must have more finance. I do not know whether going to the Government for further grants would be popular with the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Treasury at the present time. I do not think the travel trade would be pleased at the prospect of having to increase the generous subscriptions which are made. I am wondering whether it would be possible to convert the Association into a strong commercial corporation. A glance at the list of directors and the members of the council would reveal a splendid number of able commercial 454 people, and it would not be beyond their wit to devise a prospectus which would be attractive to the responsible interests in the City of London.
A Council so constituted and strengthened would be able to deal more comprehensively with affairs abroad, and might well provide the focus for the public opinion without which I do not think we can get, or it would be very difficult to introduce, legislation to change some of the restrictive laws and regulations and so finally to eliminate from the Continental mind the last traces of that rather baleful feature, "Mrs. Grundy". I have one other suggestion. If I remember correctly, some years before the war a very intelligent German Chancellor, I think it was Dr. Schacht, introduced a tourist Deutschmark and brought a great deal of tourist traffic to Germany. Is it not possible for us to have a tourist pound?
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, like the previous speaker, I must also declare a commercial interest in this subject. I earn my living both as a tour operator and as a travel agent. It is I who help to produce those glossy brochures which the noble Lord, Lord Haire of White-abbey, treated so tactfully and so temperately in his excellent speech. I also have another, but not commercial interest to declare, in that I am President of the London Tourist Board, which is part of Lord Geddes's family. It is, perhaps, not elegant for a member of the Council of the B.T.A. to praise the work of his colleagues, but at least I may be allowed, I hope, to say a few words in praise of my Chairman and the admirable way in which he has conducted our affairs over the past few years. My Lords, I think it is a paradox to have someone with the capabilities of Lord Geddes in this job. We asked for a professional and we got, surprisingly enough, a really professional man. We make him work like a horse. We deprive his distinguished company of his services for years. We never pay him a penny, and then we are surprised that it is going to be so difficult to find other people to take on the job. This is a situation which I do not think that we can allow to continue indefinitely. I have deliberately not mentioned it to the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, beforehand. Probably he will 455 not speak to me again, although of course his successor may.
I should like to endorse very strongly the word of praise he offered to the Overseas Offices of the British Travel Association. In my tours I have, I think, visited 16 of the 20 overseas offices, and I can endorse the magnificent work which they do. It is overseas that the work of the B.T.A., to which you, my Lords, and I, contribute as taxpayers, is best to be seen. They do such a powerful amount to counteract the traditional B.T.A. image which has falsely got about—the Old Curiosity Shop, the changing of the Guard—and both noble Lords who have addressed themselves to this subject have explained how that came about.
They have another image to cope with. All the speakers have so far mentioned, naturally, grounds on which they could see improvements that could be brought about in our tourist facilities. Temperate and reasoned suggestions have been put forward by all three noble Lords. This is quite contrary to a certain type of sophisticated critic, and particularly the traveller abroad, who builds up quite a false image of our country by over-facile criticism. There is always somebody who has had that nightmare meal on British Railways; there is always someone who turned up at one minute past eight at a fashionable hotel to find the kitchen locked. We always hear far too much from them. There is always someone who is going to tell us, "Don't go to suchand-such a place; it will be ruined by tourists". They do not mind taking advantage of the facilities that tourist money has brought there, or the improvement in conditions. It is a type of criticism which the B.T.A. officer abroad will tell you that he has to counter everyday. He meets with it from our visitors abroad to an extent out of all comparison with its real weight.
The noble Lord, Lord Haire of White-abbey, referred to this operation as a co-operative one; and indeed it is. It is one thing which everyone can do. I am not suggesting for a moment that there is no room for improvement in our catering and in our hotels but, as the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, pointed out, the amount of building, particularly of moderate priced hotels, in this country since the war, has been enormous. Those 456 who tend to be critical of British catering—there are critics who are loud enough—have only to look at the astonishing number of prizes which British cooks win in international culinary exhibitions to see that there is another side to the coin. That is the trouble: bad news in the tourist world is always good news, and good news is no news at all.
Perhaps I may come nearer to my own trade, the tourist trade. We have been under criticism of late because of things like the "Fiesta" trouble and the "Omar Khayyam" trouble where, owing to faulty arrangements, tourists were stranded and, of course, made their grievances loudly heard; and rightly so. We do not hear so often from the hundreds of thousands of holiday makers who had happy and satisfactory holidays. Bad news is "news". But, my Lords, bad news must not occur too often, and this is why the travel trade is trying to put its house in order and why we have launched this "Operation Stabiliser". We should like people to realise that the 1,700 members of our Association are not all rogues and vagabonds, and that they are doing their level best to raise the standard of their trade, to increase its financial stability and its own image, and to increase the service which they can give to the customers, the holiday makers of this country. I hope that the work the Association is doing to put its house in order will meet with some success and some approval.
There are two other points that I should like to make concerning the other side of the coin. Of course, it is always the complaints that come to your desk, as any businessman—or the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, as Chairman of the B.T.A.—will bear out. It is the complaint that comes in more often than praise, and for exactly the same reason. But it is gratifying to think—and I speak here as President of the London Tourist Board—that an increasing number of congratulatory letters are coming in about the tourist trade in this country. People are bothering to write, to point out improvements and congratulate on successes, which they would not have done ten or twenty years ago.
One of the most gratifying words of praise that comes with increasing frequency is the word of thanks to the ordinary man in the street for his helpfulness towards tourists. Noble Lords may 457 remember the old joke in Punch of the two workmen, one of whom said, "Who's that over there?", and when the other replied, "Don't know—he must be a stranger," said, "Right! Heave half a brick at him." Now people almost embarrass a stranger with the desire to give him wrong directions and put him on a bus going in a completely different direction.
Another word of praise is for the fact that we have not yet fallen into the trap of graspingness. Paris is having a poor time as a tourist centre, compared with the success that she basked in after the war. People are complaining with increased vigour of the graspingness of Parisian hoteliers, shopkeeps and restaurateurs. There was rather a touching letter in one of the Paris trade papers the other day from an American who had complained in some remote French hotel about being charged the equivalent of 7s. 6d. for a boiled egg. Complaining to the hotel-keeper about the price, he asked, "Are boiled eggs rare in this part of the world?" "No, Monsieur", was the reply, "but tourists are." Do not let us have that attitude in this country.
I think we can learn two more lessons from Paris, and here I should like to have the support of the noble Lord who is to reply for the Government. In the London Tourist Board we are trying to do two things in particular. We are trying to get London established as the conference centre of the world. The London Tourist Board are, of course, firmly of the opinion that London is automatically the first tourist attraction in the world, but now we want to get the conference business on a sound footing. This is in its infancy. We have set up a convention bureau and have had great help from all of those properly concerned. It will be, we realise, a long-term business, but already we brought last year 107 conferences to London. We are overtaking Paris; indeed, we think we are well ahead of Paris this year. Those conferences in 1965 brought in £2 million on this market, which is one hitherto untapped. That is the first reason why I am asking the noble Lord's support for the work of the Board, and I hope the Government will be as generous and as helpful as they possibly can be.
458 The second point is quite different. We realise we have fallen badly behind other countries in the use of one of London's greatest attractions—London's river. I have gone abroad to Paris and to Amsterdam to see the splendid way in which they use their rivers as a tourist attraction—and their climate is not all that much better than ours, though, of course, the seasonal nature of London's weather is a handicap. We have enlisted the help of everybody concerned—the owners of launches, the riparian authorities, the Greater London Council and the brewers who have public houses down by the river. We have planned a long-term campaign to interest Londoners in their river and to provide the greatest possible number of resources for the Londoner and for his visitor. We regard the use of London's river as one of the easiest means of providing a new attraction for tourists.
I need hardly say that the moment we launched this campaign a flood of "funny stuff" came from just those people who think that London has been ruined by tourists, the sophisticated who regard any attempt to bring in tourists in any increasing number as a discomfort to them and as a handicap to their particular idea of civilisation. We have to give and take, but I think we have some claim for our case as well.
Two or three days ago, some anonymous friend with, I think, more wit than kindness, put a review in my locker outside of a book, Teach Yourself Arabic, 8s. 6d. For reasons which I need not go into, I am not likely to wish to teach myself Arabic for some time to come. I hope that the day will come in due course, but not at the moment. Guide books and phrase books have always had a fascination for me. Ever since the phrase,Lo, the postillion has been struck by lightening",I have been looking for similar remarks in phrase books. This Arabic phrase book starts off splendidly with this one:He has some deaf black slave girls.Further on, I read:A girl was paralysed for about fifteen years; she could not turn from side to side.That would be bad enough for most of us, but not for this linguist. He goes on, 459 in case we have any glimmering of hope for the poor girl,Nor could anyone else turn her.This is the one I particularly like, and it applies to the remarks I have been making:If you do it again, we shall again make a lampoon on you, the words of which will travel.It is the second "again" I like. I do not know what is the opposite of a lampoon, but I hope that those who believe with me that a lot of damage is done by those who make lampoons on the British tourist industry and talk about places being ruined by tourists, will agree that we should do the opposite on them. And I hope that, as a result of this debate this evening, our words will travel, too.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, I do not propose to speak at any great length, and I do not need to declare an interest, except as a traveller and as one who enjoys holidays. But I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, and the British Travel Association upon the magnificent way in which they have tackled the problems of the industry, and also on their excellent Report, which I have read with the greatest possible interest. In my new position as Chairman of the Consumer Council, I get a great deal of information from ordinary people. On the questions of travel and holidays, my Council have received many letters, some in terms of praise, some not. I hope that my contribution will not be considered too critical, but that it will bring the debate down to what is not so good, as well as what is good.
Before I get down to the points I want to raise from the consumer's point of view, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Haire of Whiteabbey, for his excellent speech, and also the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, who is one of the biggest and most successful of the spokesmen for the travel business, for his speech. I agree with everything that has been said and I have no criticism to make of the speeches made so far.
There are one or two points which I hope will be picked up by the Government or by people in the commercial side of travel. One of them is the ques- 460 tion of diversifying holidays. I am glad to say that in Scotland (the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, mentioned the Scottish Travel Association) we have made use of the snow on our mountains during the winter-time for the development of winter sports. This is now a flourishing part of the travel industry, and new centres are springing up. For example, in Aviemore, new hotels are being built.
I should like to compete with the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, in his proposal that London should be a world conference centre: I am very keen that Edinburgh should be a great conference centre. We have had some experience with our Musical Festival, which has now been running for seventeen years and is one of the great annual European Festivals. We have plans to build a new conference hall and centre for both music and drama. I hope that we shall amicably, but nevertheless forcefully, compete with London on the question of having a conference centre. I agree, too, that we must develop diversity in travel in every way possible. Air, sea, rail, bus, motor-bike, caravan, pony—even Shank's mare—all provide improved assets for holidays. I think that we should (I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Geddes is well aware of this) develop all those various ways of spending holidays so that we need not always go to the sea or to the mountains. There are a great many ways in which we can develop holidays.
Now may I come to one or two points of complaint that we get in the Consumer Council offices. I do not want to fall into any of the pitfalls suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, by saying that what I am going to say now I look upon as news, in so far as it is not actually good news. I agree with him that one of the devastating things in life is that if you want to get into the newspapers, or to get recognition, you can be certain that if it is bad, you will get it quickly, and that if it is good, you will not get it at all. I want to bring to the attention of the experts that we have in the House this evening a number of complaints that have come to our office. I have chapter and verse, but I am not going to give names and addresses, because that would not be right in a debate of this kind.
People advertise holiday cottages, and quite often they are not what they are described to be. We have heard of quite 461 a number of them that have not been the beautiful holiday bungalows depicted, with all the amenities, but cottages that have been resurrected and have not been inspected by the health authority; that are not equipped with proper sanitation, and are not in salubrious surroundings in the countryside, but in a field which may not have been cultivated for some time and is full of stinging nettles. I hope that we may get some help from local authorities and from people who put forward suggestions of this kind, through magazines or newspapers, by their insisting that the advertisement describes the holiday cottage and that the description and the object coincide. We have had many complaints on these lines.
Then there have been a considerable number of complaints about the fact that so many brochures (and this includes the nationalised services—the noble Earl, Lord Amherst speaks for B.O.A.C.—as well as other services) have in very small print what I call the exclusion clauses for responsibilities. This happens more particularly when things go wrong, and I have three here which, if any noble Lord wishes, he can look at. This is something that we in the Consumer Council feel should be looked at carefully. We feel that travel agents should take responsibility for the services they provide and sell, in the same way as the trader has to take responsibility under the Sale of Goods Act for the goods he decides to stock and sell. Many agents hide behind exclusion clauses, of which I can give your Lordships one or two examples.
The first one is:All arrangements for hotel accommodation, meals and refreshments and entertainments and for the use of steamers, vehicles, trains, ferries, aircraft or other means of conveyance operated by persons or bodies other than the Company are made by the Company as agents for or on behalf of the passenger on the express condition that the Company shall not be responsible for any loss, damage, injury, delay or inconvenience caused to passengers as a result of any such arrangements for hotel accommodation, meals and refreshments and entertainments or in any such steamers, vehicles, trains, ferries, aircraft or other means of conveyance…That, as we all know, is something which, unless you study these things carefully, you do not see in the prospectus. I have another example of the same thing, and 462 this comes from a tour organisation, who say:All arrangements made for hotel accommodation, the use of other companies' vehicles, steamers, aircraft, launches, ferries, etc., are made by—Tours Ltd. as agents on the express condition that they shall not be responsible for any loss, damage, injury, accident, delay or other inconvenience caused to passengers in any such hotels, steamers, aircraft, launches, vehicles, ferries, etc.This, situation, we believe, could be improved. For a disaster, of course people cannot be held responsible. But for the ordinary run of a tour, we feel that the responsibility taken by the travel agent should bear some relation to the kind of responsibility that people have under the Sale of Goods Act. The exclusions even extend to camps run by commercial firms. These things, I feel, should be looked at, because I believe it would add to the happiness of people who are either travelling with a travel agent or buying a tour that is arranged for them if these exclusion clauses, which so often cause great difficulty and unhappiness to the traveller, were not there.
There is one type of tour about which we have practically no complaints, and I should like to say a word about it. Mind you, I do not want to give the impression that the complaints I am telling your Lordships about are tremendously widespread, because they are not; but if we are having a debate, let us bring up the difficulties as well as the things that go well. The tours about which we have had few complaints are run by the British coach tour organisers in this country. High praise can be given to coach tour operators, because they seem to be deeply concerned about their passengers. The people who go on these coach tours do not send in anything like as many complaints (I understand from my office, which receives complaints, that there are practically none) compared with those who go on other tours.
The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, has spoken about a scheme which the travel agents have inaugurated and which is definitely a step in the right direction, but we still feel that there are steps which might be taken and which would go further to compensate people for any disasters that may overtake them. The two bad cases mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, Fiesta Tours and Omar Khayyam Tours, as we all know, 463 have been heard in the courts. The way they operated was most unfortunate. I feel that what has been suggested is definitely a step in the right direction, but we should like some more safeguards. If I just mention them, I hope that the Government may consider them in the event of there being any suggestion for legislation with regard to travel agents and tour operators.
In the first place, we should like agents to accept liability to the holiday-maker for their own errors and for faults on the part of those directly responsible for providing facilities—that is to say, a false prospectus, or for a tour to a resort advertised as having golf courses, swimming baths and so on, which turns out to have nothing of the kind. Those things should not be encouraged or allowed. The travel agent could insure himself against a certain amount of liability which would enable him to recover damages in the event of an accident taking place or of hazards outside his control. We think there should be less of the exclusion clauses in the brochures of tours which are put out to attract tourists.
We also think that any agency which is starting up—and this does not apply to those we are discussing now, because they are well-established agencies—should possess adequate operating capital. It is easy to start up a travel agency with practically no capital at all, and we believe that that should be one of the tests. We believe that there should be some form of monetary guarantee, and that the agency should employ properly trained staff. That may be extremely difficult, because when you say "trained staff", you are at once asked "How do you get trained staff in a world in which it is very hard to come by them?" Agents who have trained staff might be encouraged still further, and I am sure that it would pay handsomely from the point of view of the agencies, because the services they gave would be much appreciated. Also, all the agencies should adhere to a code of conduct similar to that of A.B.T.A., which the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, knows well.
We should like to see this vastly expanding industry encouraged in every way, but it should also be concerned with the consumers of travel. The buyers, the 464 clients, are also people whom we must consider carefully. We think that in this expanding industry it would be a good plan if the standards could be raised; that there should be registration of travel agents, and that there should be definite guarantees which protect the consumer as well as the promoter. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, that we have no desire in any circumstances to suggest that the image of travel here is not first-class—I think it is. Of course, we can improve it, and I should be the first to want to help in every possible way I can. The industry has grown up very fast, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Haire of Whiteabbey, has said, we are hoping to have millions of visitors by 1970, which shows that it is something of great importance to the economy of this country. I hope that the interests of those who are purchasers, buyers and consumers of travel will be considered just as much as of those who run the industry. In the main, they are very efficient, but there are some black spots, and one wants to be rid of them.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ LORD MONTAGU OF BEAULIEU
My Lords, there is one thing with which all previous speakers agree, and one with which I am sure the Government will not quarrel, and that is that tourism is very big business. We in the tourist business—and in saying that I feel that I should also declare my interest, as I am deeply involved in tourism, having nearly 600,000 visitors to my home every year—agree that one thing is clear, and that is that tourism can be built up. In 1952 we had about 80,000 visitors, and last year nearly 600,000 visitors. One thing which is clear, in whatever tourist business you may be, is that the tourist must be won. The tourist will not come naturally to this country, and one feels that in the depths of some Government Department there is still the idea that tourists will come to this country willy-nilly, which is just not true.
Last year I went round the world twice on lecture tours to encourage tourists to come to Britain. In these tours, I had tremendous help from the British Travel Association. I should like to support previous speakers in saying what a wonderful job these overseas offices of the British Travel Association do. They 465 welcome anybody concerned with tourism in this country, because by their presence they think they can use them to get publicity for travel to Britain generally. I had some special survey figures on overseas visitors to Beaulieu last year, and they bore out two interesting points, one of which the noble Lord, Lord Haire of Whiteabbey, touched upon. It is that the visitors from France and Germany are rapidly overhauling those coming from the United States and Canada. The second point which gave me great personal pleasure was that there was a great increase in the number of visitors to my home from many of the countries in which I had lectured.
I should like to say that I support the fact that we must leave it to the British Travel Association and their offices abroad to present the correct image in the countries where they are situated. It is no good our trying to say what image we want England to have abroad, but it is true to say that overseas the whole Continent of Europe is considered the Continent of Antiquities. This is the home of their heritage, and this is what they come to Europe to see. Whether those antiquities are Beefeaters or thatched cottages, or the Louvre in Paris, this is what they come to see. I feel that we should leave it to the experts on the spot to put over in those countries the image which they know will draw.
One factor which seems to be holding back some of the offices abroad is a lack of money. I know that this is the usual cry, but the more money we can give for promotion overseas, the better. As your Lordships know, there are two basic points about tourism for any country. First of all, tourists want to know of places to stay at and places to see. As regards places to stay at and eat, I think we are all agreed that there has been a considerable revolution in the last ten years in the standard of hotels and food in this country. The sad thing is that it appears from the latest Government White Paper that the tourist industry has been left out so far as investment allowances are concerned. I feel they ought to think very carefully again whether the climate which has been produced for the improvement of hotels in this country is to continue or not. Unless there is consistent stimulation for better hotels and better food, it is possible that this revolution will begin to slip.
466 I was somewhat amused to see that the White Paper talks of extractive industries. I feel that perhaps one could look upon tourism as an extractive industry, but not too large a one. One of the biggest extractors are the Government themselves, because on every glass of beer or whisky, or packet of cigarettes, that I sell over my bar in my hotel maybe I get a profit, but the Government get 50 per cent. profit, so there is something to be said for this. Perhaps we can ask the Government to think again about the investment allowances which hotels desperately need in order to modernise themselves continually.
Now with regard to places to see. In this I must talk about the subject which is nearest to me, and that is the stately homes of England. As your Lordships know, in 1945 very few houses were open, and it might well have been that these houses would collapse and become great ruins or dusty mausoleums such as there are in other countries. But due to the efforts of many individuals, we are now extremely well off in the fact that many of our houses have been preserved. Indeed, there are about 500 houses open to the public in this country, attracting about 7 million visitors a year.
I think we ought to appreciate the fact that Government grants exist, and they have at times been given generously. But at the moment they are not enough to make quite sure that these houses can be preserved indefinitely. It is only a small increase that is needed to do a proper job. Owners cannot afford to spend large sums of capital on maintaining these old houses. It would be much better for us financially, and probably much more comfortable, if we went and lived in smaller houses. It would also be wrong for us to spend large sums of capital on our houses when it would be far better for the country if we spent it on agriculture and forestry. But in return for this Government help I think the Government should demand from the stately homes a slightly more professional attitude.
Looking around the Chamber at this time of the evening, I am glad to see that I have not many of my rivals here, because I want to say that many of the stately homes are very inefficiently run, without any idea of business and with a completely amateur approach. To 467 paraphrase a famous remark, they certainly need a smack of firm management. Owners of stately homes cannot have it both ways: unless they accept the fact that they are part of the tourist industry, and use modern methods of promotion and business control, they will not, I feel, keep up in the race. It is said generally that all these stately homes run at a loss. I do not accept that this is necessary. With good business management, leaving aside the question of repairs, there is no reason why a reasonable profit cannot be made from the attraction of tourists. It is perhaps right for me to say that I am not ashamed of saying that in the early years I did make a loss, but I am now making a profit. I am putting that profit back into improving and increasing the facilities for visitors who come to view. I should like to feel that my efforts will be rewarded by tax reliefs and investment incentives. The irony is that I have never asked for a grant to repair my roof, but I have had so many visitors that my floor is wearing out.
Having made those remarks, I would sum up by saying that all of us in the tourist business in this country look to the Government for help in many ways, in little details like fixing the date of Easter, in the provision of more money for promotion, and also for giving incentives for those working hard in the tourist trade, whether it be in hotels, restaurants, stately homes or museums, because every penny that we can re-invest in this industry will be of great value to the country as a whole.
§ 7.54 p.m.
My Lords, I should like to say how glad I am to have a chance of taking part in this debate, even at this late hour, because I have long been interested in the tourist industry. I must declare my interest. Apart from a small financial interest in the hotel industry, and from having represented for many years in another place a county where the tourist industry was of prime importance, I am also the President of the English Lakes Tourist Board. This Board, now 33 years old, is supported in the main by the smaller local authorities and has never sought publicity, but it has done a great deal of good work in a quiet way.
468 It is strange that until recently very few people had any knowledge of this industry or expressed much interest in it. Even the Board of Trade is a comparatively recent convert. To-day, while old-stagers realise that there is a lot more to be done in developing and strengthening the industry and its organisation, I want to strike a note of warning. We should take notice that there are too many people wanting to jump on the bandwagon because of the supposed glamour of the industry and for fear of being left out. Some of them are very respectable. In our part of the world, the county councils are even a little suspect for showing an interest so late in the day. Again, we should take warning of the danger of promotion for promotion's sake, because the "P.R." fraternity are not infallible and are likely to do harm as well as good. Our super-publicity-minded Regional Economic Planning Council's hasty utterances are causing a good deal of apprehension in the North of England.
I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Strang, is no longer here, because responsible reports, including those of the National Parks Commission, have included a whole series of warnings against the danger that our area (I do not speak of places like Beaulieu, but of the English Lake District) may be swamped by mere numbers. Vast numbers are coming into our district on their own along the motorway, so it is not a question of publicising the Lake District in order to increase the numbers. Our task is to try to make better use of our resources, and I imagine that this applies to other rural parts of the British Isles. We must try to extend the season. That is happening slowly in the Lake District, but we must increase that trend. And we must interest people, too, in the surrounding areas, such as the Pennines, The Solway and the Roman Wall, as well as the centre and the Lakes.
We must also accept new ideas. Traffic must be controlled on the minor roads, even if this is a reversal of the highway authority's usual policy of up-grading every country lane into a modern motor road in the interest of "traffic flow". The Germans are a long way ahead of us here.
The Lake District is small and precious, particularly to the youth of this country for the unique opportunites for adventure it offers. It can claim to be our premier 469 holiday area—leaving London out of consideration. Yet it is always at risk. Not so long ago your Lordships saved the Lake District from one of the periodical attacks from Manchester Corporation, seeking water on the cheap, and it may well be that your Lordships will be called upon in the near future to defend it again.
On page 30 of the Annual Report reference is made to a North-West Tourist Conference organised in Black-pool in December, to consider the establishment of a regional tourist organisation for the North-West. That was a mistake, and the credit should not go to those who organised the conference but to those who made sure that it did not do any harm, because resorts on the Lancashire coast and the Lake District resorts have entirely different problems and do not go well together. Then we have our planning council with their ambition and loose talk about "super resorts". Lastly, we have inconsiderate visitors, with their litter and their noise on water as well as on land, spoiling the pleasure of other people.
Noble Lords have referred to the rising standards of cooking and accommodation in our hotels and boarding houses. In the North of England we are proud of our tradition of hospitality and standards of innkeeping and cooking, and we would claim that we are far ahead of the South of England and the Midlands.
The taxation problems of the hotel industry have been mentioned more than once and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes, who will reply for the Government, will press on the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there is a strong case for treating hotels and restaurants as industrial premises, so entitling them to some writing-off of the capital spent on improvements. At the present time that is not possible, and we must be about the only country in Europe which has to carry that burden. It is only the buoyant trade of recent years which has enabled us to finance overdue improvements, and such few private bathrooms as one may find in country hotels have probably been built with taxed income, and not as in other countries.
Our affluent society is very demanding. It is becoming "scampi-minded", as somebody put it to me the other day, and as a result some few hotels are being 470 encouraged to charge too much, which is a bad mark for the industry. I deplore the ever-longer and more expensive meals to be found in country hotels and ever more characterless wine labeled "Liebfraumilch". Three well-prepared courses ought to be enough for most people on most occasions. If the quality were up and the price down, it would be, I think, an advantage to our tourist trade.
The hotel industry has a great future ahead of it in this country, and it offers to those employed in it more and better opportunities and rewards than many of them suppose. Further, there is the opportunity for many to make a start in business on their own in a small way with a reasonable chance, if they put their backs into it, of seeing their small business grow into bigger ones; and that is more than can be said about many of our industries to-day, not least the film industry, whose circumstances and affairs were being discussed in this House earlier this afternoon. I imagine there are no openings there for the small man to start in business on his own. In conclusion I should like to say that I hope the British Travel Association will accept my thanks for their very great services to the industry; I wish them well and I hope they will continue their good work, tempering their energy with discretion.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ LORD RHODES
My Lords, may I begin by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Haire of Whiteabbey, for having introduced this subject? He has had it on the Order Paper for a long time, and I am glad it arrived to-day. He has made a very considered and studied speech and brought up all kinds of problems, including whether we should begin to drive on the right-hand side of the road. I think the only thing he missed out was that the metric system would be a very good thing for the tourist trade, but otherwise he seemed to go over the whole field. I will try to answer a few of the questions as they came along.
The noble Lord, Lord Geddes, has declared his interest—yet he did not. He gave the usual House of Lords nominal declaration, but in point of fact that really was not adequate. By his services to the British Travel Association—I will make him blush, because I know he is a sensitive 471 person, but I have no mercy—he has done a wonderful job during these last few years, and at great personal inconvenience, for it was nearly a full-time job. In some ways, the same goes for the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, who is the Chairman of the London Tourist Board. It really is a wonderful thing that this country has at its service such people who are prepared to give their time and energy for an object of this sort with the interest of the country at heart.
The noble Lord need not have apologised for the image of the Beefeater. Of course we need the image of the old as well as the new. In any case, I would have come in for a terrific bombardment from my noble friend Lord Bowles, who was absolutely bridling during the time that the noble Lord was apologising for the image, because he happens to be Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard. He murmured, "These are my men", and I think he was quite right. May I thank the noble Earl, Lord Amherst, for the studied views that he has expressed, knowing the subject intimately from close observation, as a practical person engaged in the travel industry and British European Airways.
I thought the noble Lord, Lord Man-croft, was as usual very bright and on the ball. I could not help but chuckle when he was talking about the help that was given to tourists by people in the localities, and how people in giving directions and so on were helping the tourist trade to flourish. I remember the case of some foreign people who came into our locality a year or two ago. They asked a local how they should get to a certain place, and after a long time the local said, "I don't think I would start from here if I were you". The husband of the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, went with us to Nigeria, and we had a great affection for him. The noble Lord, Lord Geddes was on the same mission, and it was interesting that we had to present a mace; I have wondered many times in recent weeks if it is in the same position as we left it. Lady Elliot of Harwood spoke about the implications of her particular field of consumer interests. I shall have something to say about that in a moment, and also about Lord Montagu of Beaulieu's speech. I wish 472 to have a word about the stately homes. Lord Inglewood has been a great champion for the Lake District and has caused the gritting of many teeth in Manchester on many occasions because of his obstinacy, as I always consider it, but I suppose he would call persistence.
There is water for all in the north-west of England. It's just a question of whether you must grab your neighbour's water, in the cheapest and easiest way, even if you damage his interests in so doing.
§ LORD RHODES
We will not go into the question of our neighbour's water, but will leave that for some other time.
This has been a good debate. It has been quite distinctive, in that the people who have spoken have been intimately connected with the subject and know what they are talking about. It is true to say that the growth of international tourism in the last two decades has been phenomenal. It has been, as has been said by so many people—and I will try not to go over too much of the ground—an important contribution to the credit side of our balance of payments. And when I say that Her Majesty's Government are determined that the impressive progress achieved so far shall be maintained, I would add that we are determined that it should be improved upon, because this is precisely what the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, wants; and we are out to back him as much as we possibly can.
The noble Lord, Lord Geddes, has quoted statistics. To save time, I will cut out a lot of the material I have, but I do not want to omit one figure that I think has not yet been mentioned. In 1964, 3 million people visited these islands, and I have no doubt that when the figures for 1965 are produced they will show that fresh records were broken. I do not know whether the noble Lord has the figures, but I shall be interested to have them as soon as they are available. I recall with pride another personal thing, because I was at the Board of Trade when the present Prime Minister was the President of the Board of Trade. Is it not astonishing and significant, as we see these things unfold, to recall the number of really imaginative projects that were introduced about that time, and before? We have been discussing earlier this evening films and art. The whole 473 Statute Book is strewn with imaginative projects. I should be willing to debate this at any time, but this is not a time for partisan or Party politics.
When my right honourable friend was President of the Board of Trade he entrusted the Association with the comprehensive mandate which is as good today as ever it was. I know, from personal knowledge, that he has watched with pride its progress since those early days. The B.T.A., as Lord Geddes has reminded us, was then charged with a three-fold task. The first was to increasing the number of visitors coming from overseas to the United Kingdom. The second was to foster and develop among residents of this country the practice of spending holidays at home—something which has been recently commented on at the Boat Show. My answer to some of the play to and fro across this House the other day, would be that that is the second principle of the British Travel Association. All that my right honourable friend was doing was just laying in front of the visitors the second object. The Association's third task was to promote in every way the improvement of the tourist and holiday accommodation, catering, transport, entertainment and a whole list of things in the United Kingdom.
My noble friend asked if we thought it would be successful. May I say that we at the Board of Trade think that the British Travel Association is succeeding, and is doing its work well. Of course we do. I again congratulate the noble Lord on his Annual Report, which has been given as the reason for this debate. With the increase in the standard of living, particularly in Western countries, I suppose that international tourism also will increase dramatically in the immediate future, and we feel that here in the British Travel Association we have the medium to cope.
In one of the most stimulating sections of the Report, the Association states its belief that a National Recreational Plan, based on surveys, should be prepared to guide recreational development. The noble Lord mentioned the Duke of Edinburgh's speech on the countryside—I think the title was "The Countryside in 1970". I must mention that at the same time the Minister of Land and Natural Resources announced his plans for a new Countryside Commission, to take over 474 the powers of the present National Parks Commission and, in addition, enlarge opportunities for the enjoyment of the countryside generally, and not only in the National Parks. I hope that at this late hour I shall not draw upon myself any fire from the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, on this matter.
A major proposal is that, in consultation with the Commission, local authorities should establish country parks, with facilities for car parking, picnicing, and so on. The Government are also encouraging authorities responsible for reservoirs to allow public access, and thus to help to meet the increasing demand for boating, and other water-based sports. I want to make an appeal (this is my own personal appeal) to local authorities and local councils who are at present making plans for new reservoirs, to see that their plans include provision for the use of the reservoirs in the way I have suggested. These places can be of inestimable value for scores of thousands of people who are now, and will be in future, taking up these new sports. It is a good investment, not only for travel associations and our tourist receipts, but also in the health of the country. I have one in mind, in particular. I hope that my remarks will be heard by these bodies. A survey is already being carried out by the Social Survey Division of the Central Office of Information on present and future demands for facilities for indoor and outdoor sport and recreation.
I come now to a most important part of my noble friend's introductory speech, about the extension of the holiday period. It has been said this afternoon that two-thirds of all British holidays are taken in July and August. This causes congestion on the roads, on public transport, at resorts and in holiday areas. There is no doubt that this congestion would be relieved if the summer holiday period could be spread more evenly over the months from June to September. I am sorry to have to be so platitudinous, but that is true and it cannot be said too often. What has been done? We have announced that for each of the next three years the spring and late summer bank holidays—I am using the phrase "bank holiday" in the old way—will be the Monday nearest respectively to the end of May and the end of August. More 475 important, I am glad to say, in answer to my noble friend, that most of the examining boards for the G.C.E. examinations are arranging this year for these examinations to be completed by the end of June. This will be of great help. This change will be helped by the severance of the spring bank holiday from Whitsuntide, and should enable the schools to fix their summer holidays more flexibly, so that other people can fix their holidays perhaps just outside the peak period.
Criticism has been levelled about the difficulties and changes that have taken place regarding the investment allowance. I should like to say a word on this matter. In the Report that we are discussing we are urged to assist in creating favourable conditions under which the hotel industry can expand. Some criticism has been made of the measures proposed in the recent White Paper on Investment Incentives. It is true—and I am not getting away from it—that under the terms of the proposed legislation hotels and other service establishments will in future lose the investment allowance on their equipment. This loss, however, will be cushioned in the short term by the increase of the initial allowance to 30 per cent. I know it can be argued that the initial allowance is not so good as the investment allowance, but there is this opportunity of the 30 per cent. initial allowance.
Moreover, the White Paper makes it clear that hotels and similar establishments will continue, as previously, to be eligible for assistance in the new development areas, subject to the existing condition about the creation of additional employment, which really means that the criteria about providing employment in development areas applies. I will tell your Lordships something about the assistance that can be given. It can be in the form of building grants of 25 per cent., or in special cases 35 per cent., or Board of Trade loans can be obtained for plant or for working capital.
§ LORD RHODES
Yes, in the noble Lord's district. I am coming to that in a moment. Do not get impatient. They take in practically the whole of Scotland, Northern England, including the Lake 476 District, almost the whole of Wales, Cornwall and North Devon. I am sorry, but I have no crumb of comfort for the noble Lord who spoke so eloquently about stately homes. These, of course, are major tourist-areas, and it follows that new or extended hotels in many places which would not previously have qualified will now become eligible for the kinds of assistance I have mentioned.
The noble Lord, Lord Geddes, mentioned the contributions by the Government to the British Travel Association, which this year will amount to nearly £2 million. In parenthesis, may I say that this £2 million which is injected into the travel industry provides a massive indirect benefit for hotels and restaurants which cater for overseas visitors and helps to bring them in. The British Travel Association Report refers elsewhere to the need to modernise transport terminals and provide good standard catering services at these terminals. I feel very keenly about this, because I sometimes come into Euston station, and I have wondered when it is going to be finished. I have something more cheerful to say on that in a moment.
Much is being done to improve the standards. At London Airport an extensive development programme to improve landing facilities for aircraft and passengers has commenced and will continue over the next three or four years. Six piers will be built to give covered walkways between passenger buildings and aircraft. The first pier was opened in June, 1965, and a second pier is under construction. As one who uses London Airport a good deal, may I say what a boon that pier has been; there is no question about that. It is a wonderful time-and-energy saver. If six of these are going to be built, it will be of enormous benefit to many people arriving in this country. At Gatwick Airport an enlarged terminal building was completed and brought fully into use early in June, 1965. Provincial airports have also been extended or improved. Additional space has been added to the terminal buildings at Luton, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Bristol, Liverpool, Southend, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Leeds-Bradford, Belfast and Edinburgh.
There has been quite a lot of criticism, as your Lordships know, and it as well every now and again to enumerate 477 what we are doing. British Railways, for their part, have recently made improvements at the seaports of Dover and Folkestone. The last two or three years has also seen a significant increase in the car ferry services between Britain and Europe, and inland the full impact of electrification will be felt this summer on British Railways main lines between London, Manchester and Liverpool. I do not think we realise that we are near the point when some of our railway services are going to be the best in the world. When it becomes a fact that every few hours in the day one will be able to get from Manchester to London or the other way round in 2 hours and 35 minutes, it will make a lot of people sit up and take notice. But that is not all. Other services to Holyhead, Heysham, the North-West of England, and Scotland will also benefit from the accelerated timings over the route from London to Crewe. Five new routes are being added to the "Cars by train" network, making 15 services in all and giving space for 30 per cent. more cars. The routes which these trains will serve will penetrate into the heart of the main tourist areas.
A point was made about the speed of the clearance of baggage and the way in which foreign visitors are treated when they come to our ports or airports. Her Majesty's Customs have collaborated on this in a splendid way. Last summer they made a study of procedures for examining baggage in several countries on the Continent. After what had been said about the necessity for speeding up the process, they went over there to see the situation. They also made their own experiments at certain seaports and airports in this country to assess the effects of different procedures and methods. Arrangements to help passengers and customers alike are now being worked out in the light of these experiments and studies. It is a fact that different circumstances at ports call for different procedures, but at places where changes seem desirable and feasible the lessons learned will, so far as possible, be applied in good time for the increased volume of traffic that we are expecting this summer. In addition, 478 the Customs are preparing informative leaflets to distribute abroad to help visitors on their arrival here to understand any questions about their baggage which may be addressed to them.
I should like to mention a point in which I am particularly interested. During this summer the World Cup series will be played in this country. I do not know whether that gives the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, a great deal of satisfaction, when he thinks about questions of accommodation and how we are going to cope. Nevertheless, a large number of people will be coming here and will be spending a great deal of money. It is interesting to see what the Government have done about this. They have shown imagination and anticipation, and if everybody plays his part in this matter as the Government have done, then all will go well.
The Government have made available to the Football Association a sum approaching £500,000 towards the cost of facilities, so that the games can be suitably staged. I suppose that most of the money needed will be distributed by the Association to the six football clubs on whose grounds the World Cup matches are to be played. But the remainder is to be spent principally on providing for the reception of overseas visitors attending the games in London and elsewhere. Estimates of the number of overseas visitors to the games are incomplete, but there is evidence of great interest by agencies acting for such visitors. Overseas visitors will undoubtedly make a substantial addition to tourist-spending in this country as a direct result of the Cup.
What I am trying to get at is this. While we are known to be friendly and hospitable people, if folk in this country really excelled themselves this year about; the way in which they received the large numbers of visitors who come to this country it would do an enormous amount to cement relations with countries abroad. I am doing my bit. I was in Mexico in October, and I have booked a room downstairs for a hundred influential Mexican visitors. We are aware of what will be needed long before the visitors come, and I want to sound a little 479 clarion call to people to rally, because British prestige could then be increased enormously and exports of a different nature could be helped.
I have nearly spoken for long enough. I just want to say a few words to the noble Lord, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu—I apologise if I have not answered everybody's questions because it is too late. We listened with great interest and delight to what the noble Lord said. I expected and hoped that the noble Duke, the Duke of Bedford, might have taken part in this debate as well, but he has not shown up. He is probably busy preparing for his summer visitors. As the owner of one of the stately homes—I suppose one of the stateliest in the land—the noble Lord, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, has had the satisfaction of playing a direct and enviable part in the tourist industry of this country. He is right. Our stately homes are among Britain's leading tourist attractions, and the survey carried out by the British Travel Association showed that ancient buildings and ancient homes were among those items which formed the greatest attraction to visitors from the United States. It is estimated that in 1964 our historic houses and buildings attracted more than 4 million visitors. As your Lordships—in particular, the noble Lord, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu—may know, a Working Party has been set up to formulate plans to encourage more visitors to Britain's stately homes, and I am glad that the noble Lord is serving as a member.
I once went to Paris as a visitor to the Council of Europe at the Palais de Luxembourg. I went up the steps of that gorgeous place, with a man who was grumbling at every step. He said, "I have come through the slums of north Paris, and people have no right to put up buildings like this when they have slums in north Paris." An old German Socialist was walking up the stairs at the same time, and I shall never forget what he said as long as I live. He said, "Excuse me. This place was built long ago for £200,000. It has given pleasure to thousands of families. If you were thinking of spending money to-day, do you think you would get the same value out of 480 £200,000 worth of bomber? Would people be climbing into a bomber 200 years from now?" It was salutary for my friend, and it was salutary for me. I wish the noble Lord, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, success with an increased number of visitors from abroad this summer.
We must not forget the consumer, and I cannot finish without saying a word to the noble Baroness. Here, again, just as in the debate on the film industry, there is no question that it is the consumer who is the important person. As your Lordships know, I introduced the Protection of Consumers (Trade Descriptions) Bill in this Chamber last week, and we are starting our discussion on it next Tuesday. It would not, therefore, be appropriate for me to anticipate what I shall be saying then, and in any case it is getting late. But I think I can safely draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that the Bill will go some way to stopping deliberate or reckless false statements about holiday accommodation, about which I think the noble Baroness who was campaigning for this for a long time will be highly satisfied.
I began earlier by referring to the importance of tourism to the national economy, and the Government recognise this. They are wholeheartedly behind the British Travel Association. They are indebted to the Chairman of it; they are indebted to those who give their time to the furtherance of its aims. I should also like to say, in his absence, that the same applies to the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft. If I have failed to deal with any points I apologise, and I finish as I began by saying to my noble friend Lord Haire of Whiteabbey that we are indebted to him for having initiated this debate.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ LORD HAIRE OF WHITEABBEY
My Lords, at this very late hour you will not wish me to make a second speech. It may be all right for my noble friend Lord Rhodes to speak for a second, and sometimes a third, time in an afternoon; he is always good value. But may I be allowed to thank noble Lords and the noble Baroness for the contributions which they have made to this 481 debate, and for the atmosphere of sweet reasonableness which they have brought to it? And may I wish all your Lordships a happy holiday? I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.