BHA calls on new culture secretary for regional destinations support

10 April 2014 by
BHA calls on new culture secretary for regional destinations support

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) is welcoming Sajid Javid into his new job as culture secretary by urging him to help revive Britain's regional hospitality hotspots following increased competition from European rivals.

It said that greater support is needed to drive visitors back to regional towns, as official figures show a decline in domestic visitor numbers.

Domestic trips fell by over three million in 2013, while spending fell to £23.3b (down £682m decline on 2012), according to the Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS). The report also revealed an increase in the numbers of Brits holidaying abroad.

London saw a 1.3% rise in domestic trips, but six of the eight regions outside of the capital saw a decrease. Yorkshire and Humberside was the worst hit area, seeing a decline of 11% on 2012.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA said: "With a strong economic background Sajid Javid will be highly welcomed as the kind of big hitter the department needs given the challenges ahead.

After two years of growth, this decline (domestic tourism) coincides with countries like Spain, France and Germany stealing a march on the UK. The strong increases by our competitors underline the need for government policy to support improved competitiveness - particularly across the regions.

"The GBTS report rings alarm bells and signals that the hospitality industry and government need to work closely together to help reverse this trend and ensure that the sector can continue to play its part in supporting regional growth and driving youth employment.

"On behalf of the 10% of the population who work in hospitality and tourism businesses up and down the UK, the BHA has been asking the government to focus on creating a co-ordinated task force to ensure joined up action and thinking for the industry across areas such as jobs and growth, airport and infrastructure, visas, food security, vat and regional marketing."

The BHA will be putting its message across to Javid that it is backing a cut in tourism VAT to 5% to bring Britain into line with most European countries, as well as lobbying for a cross-government group to promote policy fixes across the House of Commons.

Graham Wason, chair of the Campaign for Reduced Tourism VAT said: "These figures clearly show that as the pound strengthens, our tourism balance of payments will resume its long-steady decline.

"A reduction in VAT on tourism would increase our competitiveness with Europe, halt this long-term decline and most importantly, add a much-needed boost to regional hotspots that are undervalued by Westminster.

"Tourism is the only British export subject to VAT, which puts it at a distinct disadvantage to Europe - a disadvantage that is now starting to eat into our prospects for regional growth."

2014 predicted to be a record-breaking year for tourism >>

VAT reduction a ‘no-brainer' says MP >>

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