Furore as UK Government Slashes 18% from Tourism Ad Subsidy

01 November 2007

LONDON: The UK tourism industry is up in arms following the Brown administration's decision to reduce by 18% its marketing funding of VisitBritain - a government/industry promotional partnership to entice overseas visitors to the nation's shores.

Industry body UKinbound duly declared itself "shocked and horrified" at the reduction of taxpayers' involuntary support of the multi-billion pound tourist trade - the more so as the cuts will come into effect one year before the nation hosts the 2012 Olympic Games.

In a tirade directed at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, UKinbound ceo Stephen Dowd fumed: "This announcement confirms that DCMS has completely lost the plot.

"The London 2012 Olympics could provide a once in a generation opportunity to promote the UK as a tourism destination to a global audience.

"For the Secretary of State responsible for the UK tourism industry to forego this opportunity is utter madness. Secretary James Purnell has emasculated VisitBritain and our competitors will be rubbing their hands with glee"

As will many British taxpayers who, in considerable numbers, are either hostile or indifferent to the hosting of the Olympics on their patch.

Some observers ask if the ad subsidy cuts were necesitated by the commercial ineptitude of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, whose budget has almost quadrupled to £9.35 billion ($19.33bn; €13.4bn) from £2.4bn in July 2005 when the Games were awarded to London instead of frontrunner Paris.

LOCOG might perhaps be a more appropriate target for angry tourism tycoons to direct their pique. Among its distinguished innumerates are:

  • Lord Sebastian Coe (chairman), businessman, erstwhile MP and Olympic gold medallist.

  • Sir Keith Mills (deputy chair), co-founder of Air Miles International Group, now chairman of Loyalty Management Group which owns the Nectar UK loyalty programme.

  • HRH The Princess Royal, an accomplished equestrian and winner in 1971 of the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year.

  • Charles Allen, ousted former chairman of ITV.
It is, of course, entirely possible that thwarted Parisians filched LOCOG's collective abacus.

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff