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Regional Tourism (Television)

Volume 113: debated on Tuesday 31 March 1987

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asked the Paymaster General what information he has about the effect on regional tourism of television programmes depicting the English countryside, history and way of life.

It is not possible to quantify the actual effect of television programmes on regional tourism, but many successful television productions have clearly resulted in substantial increases in the number of visitors to the areas in which they are located.

Given that the BBC television series "Bergerac" has promoted jobs and tourism in Jersey, does my hon. Friend agree that many more regional companies should promote the areas in which their films are made? I refer to films such as "Connie", "Adrian Mole", and "Little Lord Fauntleroy", all of which were filmed in Leicestershire.

Perhaps it is more appropriate for my hon. Friend to refer to "Little Lord Fauntleroy", than to "Bergerac". He is right. We should do more to encourage regional television companies to do more to increase awareness of the location of their film and television productions.

Does the Minister agree that any television programme showing the conditions on railway lines between Bradford and Leeds will greatly inhibit the efforts that Bradford is making to promote tourism? Therefore, will he make urgent inquiries to find out why British Rail is reluctant to electrify the line to provide clean, fast and comfortable trains, which would help tourism, promote local industry and help us to combat unemployment?

The hon. Gentleman has something of a reputation for pushing the negative rather than the positive. I shall draw the point that he raised to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. The area that he represents—the point has been dealt with in the substantive question on the Order Paper—has benefited considerably from the production, "Last of the Summer Wine", and the hon. Gentleman well knows that.

Will my hon. Friend please have discussions with the television companies to see how the success of "Bergerac" and of "Little Lord Fauntleroy" may be developed and increased so that they can be sold abroad, and will he contemplate the development of a series on the railways so successfully based on Birmingham and the green county in their past development?

Does my hon. Friend agree that with about 1·5 million people working in tourism, it is one of our major areas of employment and future employment, and whereas the making of films is helpful and essential, it is only one part of that. However, there is nothing that I would like better than to see "Rob Roy" on the television screen.

It is a long time since any of us saw "Rob Roy" on television. It had a good run for a time, but I am sure that the vast majority of people in Britain, and possibly abroad, could stand another showing of that excellent film.