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More than marketing dollars needed

World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) boss David Scowsill says that new plans to boost UK tourism are unlikely to have the desired effect unless much more fundamental reforms are implemented. The WTTC’s president and CEO was reacting to plans announced by the UK’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt that the “GREAT” marketing campaign would be extended with an infusion of 8-million pounds, plus a further 2-million pounds would be invested to promote domestic tourism. Scowsill congratulated Hunt for recognizing the huge economic and social potential of travel and tourism in the UK, observing that Hunt’s 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 pounds, compared to the average spend per visit from all countries of 563 pounds.” However, the WTTC’s boss pointed out that “the UK is beckoning tourists with one hand and pushing them away with the other. 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.” Scowsill said that 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. And he concluded that while Hunt is right to want to “turbo-charge” UK tourism, “a much more fundamental reform of visa, taxation and aviation policy is required to make a real difference.” Go to http://www.WTTC.org for more.

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