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Volume 487: debated on Thursday 5 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans his Department has to encourage foreign visitors to the United Kingdom over the next 18 months; and if he will make a statement. (247213)

VisitBritain (VB) is currently formulating a new three-year strategy on the back of the many recommendations of the recent British Tourism Framework Review. The strategy will set out the steps that VB will take between 2009 and 2012 to increase the visitor economy to £133 billion by 2018. The strategy is due to be launched on 11 February.

Overseas visitors demand the highest levels of customer service and we believe that despite the global economic downturn, they are willing to spend on good quality products. VisitBritain therefore announced a new marketing campaign ‘Value for Money’ at the Liverpool Tourism Summit on 8 January 2009 costing £6.5 million. This will include the promotion of London as a more affordable destination at the present time. In addition, the Government will continue to invest in skills and in tourism product itself. This will include the quality of accommodation; the Olympics and Paralympic Games; the Cultural Olympiad; free museums and galleries; heritage and seaside resorts, which are all critical to meeting visitor expectations and their demand for an exceptional experience.