New plans announced to boost UK tourism are unlikely to have the desired effect unless much more fundamental reforms are implemented, says the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Reacting to plans from Jeremy Hunt, the UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport, for an £8m extension of the “GREAT” marketing campaign, and a further £2 million to promote domestic tourism, David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC said:
“Jeremy Hunt should be congratulated for recognizing the huge economic and social potential of travel and tourism in the UK. His plans to invest in a new domestic marketing campaign to draw on the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics and to specifically target the high-spending Chinese market are sensible options. Figures from VisitBritain show that the average spend per visit of Chinese visitors to UK is £1677, compared to the average spend per visit from all countries of £563.
“But, the UK is beckoning tourists with one hand and pushing them away with the other. The UK has the highest air tax of any country in the world. Heathrow and Gatwick are effectively full, and there is no discernible long-term aviation policy that will provide the routes to China on the scale being provided by other European countries. UK’s visa policy which requires visitors from key growth markets, such as China and India, to go through an expensive, time-consuming, and cumbersome process to obtain visas is also a clear deterrent.
“Jeremy Hunt is right to want to ‘turbo-charge’ UK tourism, but a much more fundamental reform of visa, taxation, and aviation policy is required to make a real difference.”
According to WTTC figures, the travel and tourism industry is expected to directly contribute £35.6 billion and almost 950,000 jobs to the British economy during 2012. When the wider economic impacts of the industry are taken into account, travel and tourism is forecast to contribute over £100 billion to the UK economy and generate 2.3 million jobs – or 1 in 13 of all jobs in the UK.