§ Mr. David Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will make a statement on his policy for tourism.
§ Mr. Key
I refer to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) on 13 November,Official Report, columns 997–98. I believe that the case is now much less strong for central Government funding of the promotion of tourism in England. The English tourist board has done a great deal over the years to raise standards, to improve access to information, and to show the industry how their products can be developed and marketed. As the industry matures, and the regional tourist boards develop, it is appropriate for other bodies to carry on many of the ETB's central activities. That is reflected in the allocations of Exchequer grants for tourism over the next three years.
However, I also believe that central Government support for the regional tourist boards should continue. I believe that this support should be targeted much more closely than at present on areas where the industry would not fully exploit tourism potential unaided and where this would assist with economic regeneration. The English tourist board is currently working on proposals for support to the regional tourist boards.