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Tourism

Volume 175: debated on Tuesday 3 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action he intends to take to encourage tourist agencies, airlines and the Civil Aviation Authority to work together to stimulate new tourist trade by promoting new British destinations; and if he will make a statement.

The British Tourist Authority and the regional tourist boards are actively engaged with all interested parties in developing and promoting the tourism industry in all regions of the United Kingdom.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to encourage the tourist market from Japan to Britain.

The British Tourist Authority already actively promotes the United Kingdom as a tourist destination to the Japanese. In addition the BTA has established the "Britain Welcomes Japan" group under the chairmanship of Countess Spencer. This group is looking at ways of encouraging more tourism from this vitally important market, particularly by highlighting the steps the tourism industry needs to take to make Britain more attractive to Japanese visitors. An action plan with recommendations for the industry will be produced shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action he intends to take to encourage air travel tourists to use regional entry points, rather than London; and if he will make a statement.

The British Tourist Authority promotes the advantages and benefits of using regional airports to foreign visitors and airlines. This is particularly important if we are to encourage overseas visitors to the regions and thereby spread the economic benefits that tourism brings.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what assessment he has made of the effect that the decline in the number of young travellers between the ages of 16 to 24 years as a proportion of all incoming tourists will have on the tourist market.

International passenger survey figures show that the number of young travellers between the ages of 16 to 24 years has remained broadly constant over the three years from 1986 to 1988, at about 17 per cent. of all visitors.One of the key objectives of the European year of tourism is to encourage travel by younger people. It is recognised that the young traveller of today is the mature tourist of tomorrow.The British Tourist Authority, through its promotion of the United Kingdom, encourages a broad spectrum of age groups to visit this country.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if his Department has any plans to further increase investment in the British Tourist Authority from next April; and if he will make a statement.

The British Tourist Authority will receive grant in aid amounting to £27.7 million in 1990–91, an increase of over 11 per cent. compared to 1989–90. Funding in subsequent years will be considered in the light of the Government's overall public expenditure plans.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is his policy on encouraging airport and other tourist-related staff to learn European languages; and if he will make a statement.

It is very important that all employees in the tourism industry should be encouraged to learn foreign languages. Foreign language competencies are an important element of the skills they need to welcome overseas visitors to this country. This is fully recognised in the British Tourist Authority's recent report "Lost for Words-Language Skills in the British Tourism Industry" and in its related European tourist year language campaign.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to encourage other British cities to follow Birmingham's worldwide promotion scheme.

The British Tourist Authority has been actively involved in the "Birmingham Invites You" overseas marketing campaign. A number of other cities have undertaken joint promotions overseas with BTA and the authority is always happy to consider proposals. I would welcome similar initiatives by British cities and recommend they make use of BTA's expertise in promoting Britain abroad.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to increase the accessibility of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the European tourist.

The British Tourist Authority is keen to spread tourists throughout Britain and widely promotes the attractions of the country worldwide.The British Tourist Authority continually assesses transport links between all areas of the United Kingdom and points of entry, making appropriate representations to the responsible Government Departments, and potential transport operators.