New plans announced to boost UK tourism are unlikely to have the desired effect unless much more fundamental reforms are implemented.
That is according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, speaking in response to plans from Jeremy Hunt, the 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.
Commenting WTTC David Scowsill said: “Jeremy Hunt should be congratulated for recognising the huge economic and social potential of 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 £1,677, 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,” added Scowsill.
“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.
“The 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.”