HC Deb 12 February 1997 vol 290 cc189-90W
Mr. Porter

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will make a statement on the impact of Government tourism policy on(a) Suffolk and (b) Norfolk since 1987. [12722]

Mr. Sproat

[holding answer 28 January 1997]: Norfolk and Suffolk have benefited from significant growth in tourism in the UK in recent years. The number of employees in the British tourism industry grew by approximately 24 per cent. between March 1986 and March 1996. In 1995, earnings from tourism were £38 billion—a record in real terms—and signs are that 1996 will be even better. The UK is now fifth in the world in terms of tourism earnings. The UK's domestic tourism earnings were £22.7 billion in 1995. Figures for tourism spend in individual counties are not available. However, domestic tourism spend in the east of England region increased from £490 million in 1987 to £960 million in 1995 and overseas visitor income increased from £183 million in 1987 to £566 million in 1995. International passenger survey figures show that the number of visits by overseas visitors to Norfolk increased from 164,000 in 1994 to 176,000 in 1995, and those to Suffolk from 129,000 in 1994 to 142,000 in 1995. Government support for the industry is channelled through the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourist Board.

I am pleased to note that over £10.5 million of lottery funding has been awarded to Suffolk and Norfolk to date for projects to promote culture, heritage and the arts. Other Government programmes include a seven-year regeneration initiative launched last April in Lowestoft, which aims to improve and develop the local area, and also, to develop the tourism potential.

London is one of this country's main draws for overseas visitors, and one of the main aims of the Focus London campaign, which has received £7 million of public funding over three years, has been to promote London as a gateway to the rest of the country. The Government are committed to encouraging overseas visitors to travel to all parts of the country. In 1995, the British Tourist Authority's British travel centre in London gave help and advice on travelling outside the capital to almost half a million overseas visitors. These initiatives will boost tourism in the regions and greatly benefit the employment prospects and wealth of those living locally.