Reports that up to half the staff at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport could face redundancy under government austerity cuts this year have been condemned by the World Travel & Tourism Council.
Such cuts could “stagnate” growth in the sector and see the UK drop out of the world’s top ten tourist destinations.
The WTTC also pointed to the coalition government’s pledge to halt expansion at Heathrow, “over-reaction” to the Icelandic volcanic eruption, the continuing challenges of visa processes and procedures, unfair taxation from Air Passenger Duty and the planned VAT increase from January which will raise the prices of many of the services offered to visitors.
These, coupled with potential cuts to the department responsible for supporting Britain’s leading tourist institutions could harm the travel and tourism industry which supports 3.1 million jobs and attracts £24.3 billion in visitor exports in the UK.
The WTTC plans to meet Prime Minister David Cameron in an effort to raise his understanding of the potential of the travel and tourism industry – and the challenges it faces – and get his government’s support.
WTTC president and CEO Jean-Claude Baumgarten said: “Yet again this coalition government has shown incredible short-sightedness and bad judgement.
“The travel and tourism economy is worth £140 billion to the UK, a similar share of GDP to the financial and business services sector (10.1% compared to 9.2% respectively in 2009), but while the latter received a bailout to the tune of £850 billion and still struggles in its lengthy recovery, the government appears to be actively working to stagnate growth in travel and tourism.
“If it continues down this path, the UK will quickly lose its competitive advantage and find itself fall from the top ten league of international destinations.
“We are not asking for a handout, but the private sector needs this government to implement policies that will help it thrive and quickly create new employment opportunities to help bring the UK further out of recession.”