Seaside Holidays

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th December 2000.

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Photo of Mr Lawrie Quinn Mr Lawrie Quinn Labour, Scarborough and Whitby 12:00 am, 11th December 2000

If he will make a statement on how his Department intends to promote seaside holidays. [141882]

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

We are making good progress in promoting resort regeneration. This summer, the Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting toured seaside resorts, including my hon. Friend's constituency, to see at first hand the problems and the opportunities. We fund the British Tourist Authority, which does an excellent job in marketing England abroad. Regional tourist boards, local authorities and other destination organisations all play an important part in promoting seaside holidays. I am pleased that we have been able to secure regeneration assistance for a large number of seaside resorts.

Photo of Mr Lawrie Quinn Mr Lawrie Quinn Labour, Scarborough and Whitby

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. Not only Scarborough and Whitby but the constituency of the hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) are benefiting from objective 2 status. Will my right hon. Friend make every effort possible to discuss with lottery-awarding bodies whether we can lever in extra assistance for the many seaside resorts throughout the country that desperately need regeneration? I thank him and his Front-Bench team for all their efforts to promote the traditional seaside holiday in Britain.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. Eight wards in Scarborough are included in objective 2 for potential funding. That is welcome. In relation to lottery funding, we are determinedly bringing pressure to bear on the lottery distributors to ensure that the spread of funding is fairer geographically throughout the country than it has been in the first five to six years of lottery funding. We shall look particularly at seaside resorts that have hitherto lost out in the fair sharing of lottery funds, and shall try to ensure that fairness is re-established over the coming years.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Conservative, Vale of York

Is the Secretary of State aware that the recent flooding has caused damage not just to seaside resorts, but has turned many parts of the Vale of York into a seaside lookalike attraction, causing many caravans and mobile homes to be evacuated? What measures do the Government intend to take to ensure that those who are likely to lose their livelihoods over the next year because of the flooding damage will have some tourism industry to look forward to in the next year?

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Of course, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, who has primary responsibility for the matter, is already taking action with local authorities to ensure that the best possible measures can be taken, as rapidly as possible and at as little cost to local authorities as possible, to ensure that the damage is put right, and particularly that economic livelihoods—be they in the tourism industry or any other industry—can be re-secured after the flooding has died away.

Photo of Bob Blizzard Bob Blizzard Labour, Waveney

My right hon. Friend will know that many of Britain's seaside resorts are areas of high unemployment. Thanks to the Government, however, many of them—including Lowestoft in my constituency—have assisted area status. Will my right hon. Friend approach the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to seek clarification on tourism businesses' eligibility for assisted area status money? It is very important that we maximise employment in all industries, and in those towns tourism obviously has enormous potential for growth.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My hon. Friend is right about the enormous potential of the tourism and hospitality industry: already, more than 1.7 million people in this country are employed in tourism and hospitality. They are among the fastest-growing categories of employment in the United Kingdom, and it is important that we ensure that that strength continues. I am particularly pleased that, under round 6 of the single regeneration budget, Lowestoft has received £1.25 million. We hope that it will be able to ensure that some of that funding goes into the generation of new employment opportunities in those sectors.

Photo of Mr Richard Body Mr Richard Body Conservative, Boston and Skegness

Is the Minister aware that there is one east coast seaside town that is proving very successful—much more successful than Lowestoft and Scarborough; is attracting an increasing number of people; and is not bothering him about public funds, subsidies or anything else? That town—which I entirely recommend him to visit to see how all that can be managed—is Skegness.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I certainly commend the hon. Gentleman for his devotion to the bracing atmosphere of Skegness, and I am sure that almost everything he says about it is true. The only quibble that I might have is with the unfair comparison that he made with both Lowestoft and Scarborough, which I am sure are every bit the equal of Skegness in the delights that they have to offer the visitor.