Tourism Policy: Safe in Cameron’s Hands?

UK hoteliers are feeling quietly optimistic about the new coalition government’s tourism policy priorities for the country’s hotel industry.

Industry leaders are hoping for a new era of firm leadership supported by clear tourism policy. Many are hopeful that the new administration will place greater emphasis on tourism policy, support new investment and provide better co-ordination of Whitehall policies across the industry.

With clear policies on regulation, tax policies and interest rates, the new government is in a position to provide better stability for hotel developers, owners and operators, despite cuts in public spending.

Strong Tourism Policy Needs Unified Representation

At this crucial time, the UK hotel industry needs strong, unified representation to government. The strongest organisation is most probably the British Hospitality Association (BHA) who have already raised five key points on behalf of the industry, as follows:

  • Fewer regulations, and those that are introduced should be more accurately costed and assessed for their impact on small businesses.
  • An understanding that the industry is a potential job creator and is the main economic driver of many regions in the country – even including London. Yet, in an industry largely made up of small businesses, past fiscal and regulatory measures have inhibited private investment to a great extent.
  • Greater encouragement by the government for businesses to invest, through the introduction of appropriate tax breaks and capital allowances (eg: Hotel Building Allowance). Only through more private investment will the industry be able to meet rising international competition.
  • A government department (presumably the DCMS) which is stronger and more able to represent the industry with other government departments and throughout Whitehall.
  • Too many local, regional and national tourism bodies are fighting for limited amounts of funding to promote Britain internationally, nationally and locally. Only some Regional Development Agencies have seriously supported their tourism industry while a number of regional tourism boards have been disbanded. A more coherent approach to the country’s tourism infrastructure is required.

Although it’s early days, the industry simply cannot ignore the positive signals emerging from Whitehall. Perhaps the UK’s tourism policy will be safe in Cameron’s hands after all.

By Lee Jamieson

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