Purnell orders review of UK tourist industry

Visit BritainCulture Secretary James Purnell has ordered the UK tourist industry to review the way it promotes the country. The move comes as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announces cuts to tourist body VisitBritain’s funding for the next three years.

Purnell wants the organisation to conduct a review of how best to use the DCMS funding. He says it will give them an opportunity to take an “increasingly strategic position, focus on the priorities for British tourism and act as a catalyst for other agencies”.

He adds: “To ensure value for money, we need better coordination of the resources and capabilities that exist in the tourism industry.” Purnell will also review resources available to VisitBritain closer to the 2012 Olympic Games.

DCMS funding for tourism which includes VisitBritain, VisitLondon and regional development agencies, will be slashed from £55.1m this financial year, £53m for 2008/9, £50.4m the year after and £45.8m for 2010/11. The tourist bodies also receive other sources of funding.

The DCMS says the cuts are a reflection of the government’s decision to invest more directly in the country’s infrastructure and cultural institutions.

Earlier this month, the DCMS outlined plans to invest an extra £50m to the Arts Council in the next three years from £417m this year to £467 in 2010/11. Grant aid to England’s national museums and galleries will also increase from £302m this year to £332m in 2010/11.

VisitBritain asked the government to provide financial support to fund its marketing plans and promote the brand as a tourism destination last week (October 18).

The total amount the government injected into the tourism industry in 2006/7 was £350.7m, and covered the UK, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as local authorities.

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