BHA commends appointment of John Whittingdale as Culture Media and Sport secretary

Previous chairman of Commons culture select committee excellent choice to champion industry issues

The British Hospitality Association, the private sector forum for the Hospitality and Tourism industry, today commends the Prime Minister’s appointments of John Whittingdale as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Tracey Couch as Minister for Sport and Tourism. The decision to appoint two MPs with experience on the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee will hopefully lead to positive momentum for the industry. As the former chairman of the committee, Whittingdale said the Government should look into measures that would reduce regulation and taxation burdens to boost the tourism industry’s contributions to the UK’s economy.

Following the conclusion of the Tourism Inquiry, in March 2015 the Commons Culture Select Committee highlighted the Government’s failure to give the tourism industry sufficient recognition and support. The committee responded to the BHA’s recommendations and agreed with the positive effect a cut in tourism VAT could have on the industry and called on the Government to give it full consideration.

According to the latest World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitive Index published last week, while the UK has the fifth most competitive tourism market in the world buoyed by its healthy business environment, strong air travel infrastructure and wealth of cultural attractions, it ranks 140th out of 141 countries for cost competitiveness. Out of all the countries analysed, only Switzerland is a more expensive destination than the UK.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association said: “We commend the appointments of ministers who are knowledgeable of our industry to lead the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. With the recent Tourism Inquiry report serving as a great foundation, we look forward to working closely with John and Tracey especially in leading the delivery of the Inquiry’s recommendations to reduce tourism VAT, improve the speed and cost of visas and to diversify and strengthen the Tourism Council. The time has come for the hospitality industry to be empowered to help our economy reach its potential with more jobs, visitors and tourists across the UK.”

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