Travelodge Calls On More Than 100 MPs to “Stand Up and Fight for Tourism in the House of Commons”

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    Ahead of English Tourism Week (16-24 March, 2013), Grant Hearn, Travelodge CEO has written to 106 MP’s from England’s key tourism constituencies to ask them to stand up in the House of Commons and fight for the industry. With the right regulatory framework the UK’s fifth largest industry has the potential to create 300,000 jobs by 2020. However a lack of Government action will prevent this from happening, which is why Travelodge’s boss is asking for MP’s support to promote tourism from its second class status in the eyes of policymakers.

    In the letter Mr Hearn makes a case that it is high time policy makers woke up and unlocked the true potential of one of the UK’s fastest growing industries and asks MP’s from England’s key tourism constituencies to support a ten point plan to develop a tourism industry capable of leading the economy to sustained growth and job creation.

    The ten point plan calls for the Government to move tourism higher up its agenda, and for the sector to be given the status it deserves – by moving it from the Department of Culture Media & Sports to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

    As tourism is crucial to economic growth the plan also includes a recommendation for a dedicated taskforce to be created, which is headed up by a tourism minister. This group will be tasked with delivering growth and creating a cross departmental cohesive strategy in cooperation with all tourism partners.

    The letter also calls for more to be done to increase the UK’s competiveness, especially to reduce the bureaucracy behind the visa application process which keeps so many BRIC visitors away.

    Grant Hearn, Travelodge CEO said: “English Tourism Week celebrates a vital industry in terms of providing economic growth, inward investment and job creation but it has been largely ignored by successive Governments. The industry needs more than just lip service, as we have a huge opportunity within our grasp to help the economy recover. A lack of action is costing jobs, growth and investment, and whilst we dither, our European neighbours and the USA are successfully pursuing growth via forward-thinking tourism strategies.

    “The difficulties in the economy are well-publicised, but British tourism can act as a catalyst to help grow the UK’s economy and create much needed jobs. It’s crucial that the Government does everything it can to unleash the true potential of one of the few industries that is continuing to grow, but to be able to do that we need MP’s who will champion its cause.

    “Our ten point plan is about positioning tourism as a key element of a sustainable economic recovery, so we hope this provides the catalyst for MP’s to stand up and fight for it.”

    The letter is published on the back of a Travelodge report which provides stark evidence into the role that tourism can play in delivering sustained economic growth. The first ever comprehensive analysis into how tourism performed during the double dip recession shows that the industry outperformed the general economy, leading the way in terms of employment numbers and revenue growth.

    The report proves that tourism is one of the few industries to have continued growing despite the economic crisis. Whilst GDP grew by 8% from 2007, during the same period the tourism industry increased its revenues by 12.6% to more than £40 billion – representing 10% of GDP.

    Against a backdrop of rising unemployment, the reports shows that the industry continued to create jobs, including 120,000 new ones in 2011 alone. As a further illustration of this growth, Travelodge is today announcing plans to help put more young and long-term Britons into employment. The hotel chain is pledging to create 500 new jobs, 100 apprenticeships and 50 work experience positions by 2015.

    The report also shows that the UK’s appeal as a tourist destination endured during the double dip recession, with overall visitor numbers up by 3.1% to 157.4 million. Staycations form the backbone of the tourism economy, with domestic trips and holidays increasing by 5.6% to 126.6 million. This shows that Britons have reacquainted themselves with holidaying at home, and city breaks emerge as particularly popular, accounting for almost a quarter (23%) of all domestic breaks.

    However, the report also highlights there are huge opportunities to grow tourism particularly when it comes to boosting overseas visitor numbers. Between 2007 and 2011, global tourism grew by 23.4% but during that same period, two million fewer overseas visitors came to the UK, a drop of more than 6%. This means the Government’s target for four million new overseas visitors by 2014 will be missed.

    At present, Europe and the USA are leading the way in attracting overseas visitors, particularly from emerging BRIC markets. For every Chinese tourist who visits Britain, eight go to Paris and ten visit America. On average the typical Chinese visitor spends £1,600 whilst in the UK. China has a population of 1.3 billion but in 2011 just 149,000 citizens visited the UK, spending £240m. In contrast the USA attracted 1.1 million Chinese visitors in the same year.

    Daniel Fountain / 16.03.2013

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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