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Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what support the Government are providing for leisure and catering initiatives in the tourism industry. (93140)

The Department awarded grant in aid of some £50 million this year in support of VisitBritain's work to promote Britain abroad and England domestically.

Domestically, VisitEngland's present television advertising campaign highlights a range of contemporary leisure pursuits. EnjoyEngland includes the domestic TasteEngland campaign which promotes the excellent catering available throughout the English regions. VisitBritain also has a long-term marketing partnership in place with Food From Britain who promote regional food and drink.

In the leisure and catering workforce, the Department works closely with People 1st, the Sector Skills Council for hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism, to improve skill and productivity levels. We support People 1st's work to develop a National Skills Strategy for the sector, which will focus on improving management and leadership, chef and customer service skills alongside improving staff retention.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what Government initiatives are in place to improve standards in UK tourism accommodation. (93141)

Raising the quality of tourist accommodation across the UK is a high priority for DCMS, which has over the last four years sponsored work to improve and standardise the national accommodation grading schemes run by VisitBritain, VisitScotland, VisitWales, and the Automobile Association.

The Department's consultation on the Tourism Strategy for the 2012 Olympic games and Paralympic games, which continues until November 17, seeks responses on increasing the proportion of accommodation providers which participate in grading schemes. The Department is also currently in discussion with the Office of Government Commerce about all Government Departments using only accommodation assessed under the improved schemes for official travel, (where this is operationally possible,) and within the constraints of competition law.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what support her Department is giving to co-ordination between regional tourism initiatives and those of VisitBritain. (93139)

The Department is working actively with its public sector partners and the industry to improve the Government's engagement with tourism policymakers at all levels.

The Department fully supports the Partners for England initiative, designed to co-ordinate better the marketing and other tourism support work of VisitBritain, the England Marketing Advisory Board, the Regional Development Agencies, and local authorities across the country. Officials attended both national Partners for England seminars held in December 2005 and June 2006.