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Published on Wednesday, March 7, 2012

ABTA demands Government ends 'lop-sided' support of domestic tourism

ABTA has written to Chancellor George Osborne demanding that the Government ends its "lop-sided" support of domestic tourism on the day that VisitBritain launched its biggest and most expensive campaign to promote holidays at home.


The call for the Government to support all types of tourism equally is included in a letter to the Chancellor presenting ABTA's wish-list for the budget on March 21.


"ABTA welcomes the Government's focus on tourism but a policy that only recognises the domestic sector is lop- sided," it said, "the Government needs to recognise and support the domestic, inbound and outbound sectors, which all contribute economically to the health and well-being of the nation."


VisitEngland's Holidays at Home are GREAT! campaign, fronted by celebrities Stephen Fry, Julie Walters, Rupert Grint and Michelle Dockery, was launched today at the London Eye. A new TV ad due to air tomorrow will urge viewers to visit to find discounts on accommodation, restaurants, transport and attractions.


It is part of a £24m three-year marketing strategy by VisitEngland which is aiming to generate an additional 5.3m short break nights in England and increase spend by £480m by 2015.


But ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said it was important the Chancellor supported all three travel and tourism sectors: domestic, inbound and outbound.


The Chancellor has it within his power in the Budget to create the economic conditions necessary for the travel and tourism industry to thrive," he said. "His Government has identified the industry as one of its key drivers of economic growth and now is the time to back up these words by taking decisive action."


In its letter, ABTA also ask Osborne to reconsider the rise in air passenger duty and to allow the industry to offset EU Emissions Trading Scheme revenues against the tax; it wants increased air capacity; lower taxes for families to make holidays more affordable and a reduction in red tape.


It said the Chancellor needed to address squeezed consumer spending by relieving the general tax burden and "get the nation spending again".


It also called on the Chancellor to support the removal of sales of travel insurance from FSA Regulations and the lifting money laundering regulations from companies selling foreign currency.


To increase the UK' connectivity, said the letter, it needed a "robust long-term aviation strategy".


"First and foremost we need a strong hub airport...if this is not be be at Heathrow, the Government must urgently look at other options.


"We also call on the Government to make explicit its support for leisure aviation and continue improvements in surface connectivity to airports."




By Linsey McNeill

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