UK Government Marketing Cutbacks Blamed for Tourism Standstill

19 February 2008

LONDON: Social commentators often direct their disdain at the so-called "dependency culture" prevalent among the UK's more deprived citizens. That label, it seems, should now be extended to the Big Kahunas of Britain's tourism and leisure industry.

Multinational peddlers of overpriced British accommodation and tourist services are currently whingeing at the Brown administration's reduction in public handouts to the multi-billion pound industry – reduced last year by 18%.

According to the Office of National Statistics, tourist numbers rose to a record 32.9 million in 2007, although growth ebbed dramatically in the second half. For the year as a whole, expansion slowed to a standstill at just 1% over 2006.

Moans Travelodge ceo Grant Hearn: "These figures should be a 'wake up and smell the coffee' moment for Gordon Brown. Not only is this the worst annual tourism performance since 2001, but we also continue to underperform world and European growth averages.

"Underfunding of overseas marketing, a lack of government leadership and decreasing competitiveness are now having a real impact on tourism's bottom line."

The irate exec seemingly did not consider that the pricing, accomodation standards and facilities offered by his nationwide chain compare unfavourably with equivalent offerings in mainland Europe and across the USA.

Travelodge accommodation in Bedford Pennsylvania, for example, is available for as little as $20 per night compared with $100 in Bedford (UK). 

Hearn, together with Gala Coral's Neil Goulden and InterContinental's Andy Cosslett, warn that the nation could lose 110,000 jobs and a maximum of £5 billion in revenues over the next ten years.

Unless, that is, the British government stumps up yet more taxpayers' money to attract overseas visitors to sample their overpriced (and often shabby) offerings.

Complains Kurt Janson, director of the UK Tourism Alliance: "Ten years of underfunding marketing has reduced overseas visitor growth to a sub-standard 1%, down from a recent annual average of 8%-9% and far short of the 6% growth in global tourism during 2007."

Perhaps Janson and his colleagues should first consider the state of their own houses.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff