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Volume 886: debated on Monday 17 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what effect he estimates his new guidelines for tourism and its promotion in the United Kingdom will have on the volume and value of tourist activity in the West Country Tourist Board area.


asked the Secretary of State for Trade what consultations he has had with the travel, hotel and catering industries in the formulation of his policy guidelines for the tourism industry: and if he will make a statement.

The new guidelines are designed to maximise the benefits of tourism for the national economy as a whole rather than to define the position of particular districts or interests. The three national tourist boards and the British Tourist Authority, who are very closely in touch both with regional problems and with the trade, are being consulted about implications of the guidelines. Until their analysis has been received and studied I should not wish to add to my right hon. Friend's lengthy written reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds. West (Mr. Dean) on 21st November last.—[Vol. 881, c. 525–6.]

Will the Secretary of State give us an assurance that, in developing the untapped potential of tourist areas outside the established centres, no damage will be done to the existing tourist areas and that there will be no reduction of money spent on the promotion of tourism in areas such as the West Country, where this is the No. 1 industry?

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman that assurance at this stage until the results of the review are known and studied. The Government appreciate the importance of tourism to the West Country. However, promotion must be seen as a local and commercial responsibility as well as an Exchequer task. Government funds are available to prime the pump but resources are too limited to make an indefinite subsidy. Above all, there are the less prosperous areas which, with appropriate help, can attract tourism and benefit from it to the benefit of us all.

Is the Minister aware that his right hon. Friend's recent statement was welcomed by many people as evidence that the Government were prepared seriously to rethink the tourist policies? Is he further aware that my interest in the industry enables me to look at how other countries promote tourism? Will he, for instance, take note of the fact that the Hungarians have embraced capitalism in their promotion of tourism in Western Europe and that the Swiss do as he suggested should be done and fully incorporate the views of commercial interests in the promotion of their tourism? Will the Secretary of State keep an open mind on the total rethink of the tourist policy being pursued by the Government?

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's remarks. I assure him that the Government's mind is open on this issue. However, until my consultations are complete we do not wish to add anything to what I have said.

Will the Secretary of State bear in mind, if the Government are successful, as we hope they will be, in developing tourism, particularly in areas such as the West Country and Wales, where the resident population may be low, the strain on the local economy in terms of car parks and other facilities? Will he have discussions with his colleagues in the Department of the Environment and the Welsh Office to consider whether financial assistance can be made available to local authorities for this purpose in the next financial year?

When we have the result of the review and the comments of the British Tourist Authority and the tourist boards, we shall undertake such discussions as are appropriate including, if necessary, discussions with the Department of the Environment.