HC Deb 31 October 2002 vol 391 cc887-9W
Paul Farrelly

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what proposals she has for the reform of Government support for tourism; and if she will make a statement. [79130]

Tessa Jowell

I announced new arrangements for support for tourism in the English regions on 13 May. Since then I have agreed with the Regional Development Agencies that they are ready to implement this, corporate planning guidance has been issued about how the RDAs should plan for the new tourism responsibilities and further planning work is in hand.

I also proposed changes for the English Tourism Council and to improve the co-ordination of marketing activity for England. I have decided to achieve this by a radical reform of the existing support structures, and there are two aspects to the announcement that I make today.

The first will result in a strengthening of the marketing of Britain in overseas tourism markets. This will be of direct benefit not only to England but also to Scotland and Wales. I had already asked the new Chief Executive of the British Tourism Authority, Tom Wright, to carry out a fundamental review of strategy and structure of support for British tourism overseas. The emerging conclusions point to increasing effectiveness with a structure based on dedicated new hubs for each major market and less emphasis on central services. More resource will be concentrated where it is needed most, that is in the overseas markets served by the BTA. I will also improve the accountability arrangements for BTA in co-operation with other GB Tourism Ministers.

The second aspect of my announcement concerns the need for better co-ordination of the marketing of England as a tourism destination in the GB market. We wish to combine some of the day-to-day operations of the English Tourism Council with the BTA. These two organisations have served tourism well, but combining their resources and strengths allows us to develop more quickly the marketing team for England we need. This will also enable us to put more resource into direct support for tourism and less into overheads. We will take this opportunity to develop more effective partnerships with private industry investors to support tourism. We will pursue our commitment to the sustainable development of tourism, particularly in rural areas, some of which are still in recovery following the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Accordingly, I am today asking Tom Wright to broaden the BTA reform programme and to draw up detailed plans for a further unit to lead and co-ordinate the marketing of England, promoting destinations to customers within our own country. Funding for this activity, and other activities of the relaunched national organisation in support of English tourism, will be accounted for and reported to Parliament separately from action in overseas markets on behalf of all three parts of Britain.

In England, I see a major leadership role for both the private sector and the Regional Development Agencies in developing a coherent marketing agenda across the industry. The new marketing team for English tourism within the relaunched national organisation will be guided by a slimmed down English Tourist Board, drawing on support from the private sector and regional and local government. The broad remit for its work has been drawn up by a group drawn from the private and public sectors, which was fully endorsed at a meeting I chaired of a wide range of tourism bodies at the beginning of August. The team will have responsibility for working closely with RDA and other partners to make the most of the public funds available to support marketing and promotion.

I have asked Alan Britten and David Quarmby, the chairs of the existing boards, to work closely together to ensure the new arrangements are implemented quickly and effectively. Staff from both organisations will be treated on an equal and fair basis, taking full account of their own skills and experience and the requirements of the new arrangements. I have asked them to make recommendations about the new name when they have made further progress on the reforms.

I am also announcing additional funding for tourism services in England. £10 million over three years is available, but will only be released on the effective implementation of reform, on industry rising to the challenge by coming together with matching funds, and the delivery of increased productivity we are looking for in the tourism industry.

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