MP Tobias Ellwood: I’ll act on 10-point plan to help boost Bournemouth’s tourism industry

MP Tobias Ellwood: I'll act on 10-point plan to help boost Bournemouth's tourism industry
TOURISM BOOST: Tobias Ellwood MP, with West Hill Travelodge manager Dan Stooks, left, and Travelodge district manager Matt Hawdon
A BOURNEMOUTH MP has promised to act on a 10-point plan to boost the UK’s tourism economy and try and boost the issue up the government agenda.

Tobias Ellwood, who represents Bournemouth East, pledged to do what he could to help the town’s tourist sector after a visit to Travelodge on the West Cliff.

Travelodge’s chief executive Grant Hearn recently wrote to 106 MPs from key constituencies asking them to stand up and fight for the industry in the House of Commons.

The 10-point plan that they believe would boost the sector includes cutting VAT for the hospitality industry to bring Britain in line with other European countries, reinstating a full-time Minister for Tourism post and ring-fencing funding for hospitality apprenticeships.

Travelodge bosses claim the industry is in good shape, despite the double-dip recession, but that there is more that could be done to harness its true potential. They believe their recommendations would create additional jobs, promote investment and provide a much-needed boost to Britain’s ailing economy.

Mr Ellwood said: “The report shows that Travelodge is thinking not just about its own interests but about the industry as a whole.
“The tourism industry is worth £115 billion a year, which is a staggering amount of money. It’s a very diverse industry and it’s important that the government is able to bring together all the different voices.”

He added he hoped Travelodge would become an integral part of the local community, rather than just a big company that happened to have hotels in the town.

And he said one of the challenges would be ensuring British families who have cut back on international holidays because of the recession don’t jet abroad again if the economy improves.

Matt Hawdon, Travelodge district manager, said: “It was great to discuss these ideas for boosting tourism with Mr Ellwood, and to demonstrate the impact that the industry has on people’s lives through the great career stories that staff working in our hotels have.

“Mr Ellwood is clearly a massive advocate for the industry and I’m confident we will see some real progress.”

Travelodge’s 10-point plan for developing a tourism industry:

1. Move tourism higher up the Government’s agenda, with the first step being to move the industry to where it belongs – the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation. DBIS has both the authority and responsibility to ensure that tourism can flourish.

2. DBIS to take responsibility for setting a national strategy and policy which includes introducing performance targets and better collaboration across the industry.

3. Reinstate a full time Minister for Tourism post.

4. Create a united tourism working party with the Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government, Northern Ireland Assembly and the Mayor of London.

5. Develop a dedicated plan and regional tourism fund to help the national tourist boards develop a “London and beyond” strategy that considers where investment in regional tourism can deliver the strongest results.

6. Assess the business case for regional tourism zones that enjoy allowances on capital expenditure and investment in new projects

7. Ring-fence funding for hospitality apprenticeships to drive growth and jobs in the sector.

8. Simplify the visa process for visitors from emerging markets, especially China. Some steps have been taken recently, which is good news, but a lack of further action will cost jobs, growth and investment.

9. Reduce the current VAT rate of 20% for the hospitality industry to 5% in line with our European neighbours. This will create 236,000 jobs by 2015, 475,000 jobs by 2020 and annually boost the economy by £150 million.

10. Target the investment industry especially companies who invest in pension funds and savings plans to invest in tourism business ventures as an alternative long term investment.

Bournemouth Echo

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