Tourism

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1972.

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Photo of Mr Robert Hicks Mr Robert Hicks , Bodmin 12:00 am, 7th February 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will introduce legislation to extend to intermediate areas the forms of financial assistance for approved tourist projects that at present apply only to development areas.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

No, Sir. We judge it right to concentrate the limited funds available on the development areas where the need is greatest.

Photo of Mr Robert Hicks Mr Robert Hicks , Bodmin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the present position can give rise to regional inconsistencies? Would he be prepared to review the situation of the South-West intermediate area and, in particular, the Tamar Valley, as we are of the opinion locally that the best way of alleviating unemployment there is by the development of tourism?

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

Yes; I entirely accept that any arrangements of this sort are apt to lead to regional inconsistencies. We will certainly keep the matter under review for the future.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

Will my right hon. Friend think again about areas or towns where unemployment is massively above any regional or national level? I think of Exmouth, where the unemployment level is about 13 per cent. and which is entirely a tourist area. It is strange that in the West Country some areas without such employment problems can get aid whereas other areas with employment problems can get nothing.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

Such an argument is fair, but administratively it would be very difficult to arrange in the way that would suit my hon. Friend and, indeed, myself.

Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Birmingham Handsworth

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many visitors came to Great Britain on holiday in each of the years 1967 to 1971 inclusive.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

Holiday visits to the United Kingdom numbered 2·1 million, 2·2 million, 2·6 million and 3·0 million in 1967 to 1970, respectively; there were 2·7 million visits in the first three quarters of 1971, an increase of 4 per cent. over the same period of 1970.

Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Birmingham Handsworth

I welcome and recognise the dramatic increase that there has been in the number of overseas visitors to this country, but is my right hon. Friend satisfied with the liaison between his Department and other Departments, particularly the Department of the Environment, about the very real problems? At present too many people want to visit too few places on too few occasions. Does not my right hon. Friend think that as much money as is expended on encouraging people to come to this country should extol the virtues of bases outside the obvious meeting grounds of London, Stratford, Edinburgh Castle and Coventry Cathedral?

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

My hon. Friend has raised a point which most of us who live in places outside the immediate tourist areas are keen to develop. I would recommend to him a talk with the British Tourist Authority because that is the body responsible for spreading the advertising money, not only in this country but all over the world.

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Shadow Spokesperson (Scotland)

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that in the light of these clearly increasing figures the time is appropriate for the Government to end the hotel development scheme? Does he not think that we will face a crisis of lack of bedroom accommodation for these ever-increasing numbers of visitors?

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

All hon. Members who have studied this scheme will realise that it has been a much greater success than was originally thought when it was brought in by the previous Government. A large number of extra beds have been provided in the most desired areas—if "desired" is taken to mean those areas to which the tourists are going. At the moment, however, a considerable expansion is going on in the Highlands under the Highlands and Islands Development Board.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Bristol North East

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people, in departments for which he is responsible, are working solely and exclusively on the development of tourism.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

Including the tourist boards responsible to my right hon. Friend, 555.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Bristol North East

I am grateful for that answer. Does my right hon. Friend believe that that is enough in view of the importance of the tourist industry to employment? Is he aware that 93,000 jobs are available in the tourist industry, which is now the largest dollar-earning industry in the country? Is he satisfied that his Department is giving sufficient priority to the part which tourism could play in the country's increasing prosperity?

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

I am exceedingly pleased to see the great success which the tourist industry has had, but I do not believe that that success is necessarily related to the number of civil servants who may be looking after it. Apart from those in the Department of Trade and Industry and the tourist boards, there are others in other Ministries who are directly concerned with tourism. Without making them complacent, I should like to congratulate them all on how well they are doing.

Photo of Mr Arthur Palmer Mr Arthur Palmer , Bristol Central

Does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that some of those people could be usefully diverted to raising the level of industrial activity in North-East Bristol, where unemployment is now at record heights?

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

I am not certain whether people from the tourist boards would be very successful in that respect. They have their own job to do and they are doing it extremely well.