THIS has the potential to be a momentous year for British tourism – the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and Olympic Games are golden opportunities to promote this great country to the world. Yet, with the both celebrations revolving around London, there is also a risk that the Government’s marketing activities will be to the detriment of regions like Yorkshire that are seeing their marketing budgets squeezed.
As such, the new Holidays at Home initiative – which enables people to acquire a 20.12 per cent discount on accommodation or attractions across the country – is a commendable initiative to ensure that the whole of Britain benefits from these events. It still needs tweaking, internet users from here and overseas may not have the foresight to venture into the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s website to find the relevant link.
This glitch illustrates a more wider issue: the future of tourism in this country once this year’s festivities have passed, and when funding sources will come under even greater financial pressure. That the word “tourism” does not feature in the title of its Ministry is indicative of its second-class status in Whitehall.
Yet, without a flourishing tourism sector, Yorkshire’s coastal resorts and rural heartlands would be even more impoverished. And the advances made by Welcome to Yorkshire will be halted unless Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt ensures future funding decisions are taken nationally rather than on a piecemeal basis locally, and that every region of the UK is treated fairly. While Mr Hunt’s 20.12 initiative will make a difference, it will only last for one year – what is still needed is some 20/20 vision and a fully-funded tourism strategy for the remainder of the decade.