Transatlantic tourism has been badly hit as a result of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Airlines are reporting ticket sales down by between 20 and 30 per cent. on some key transatlantic routes. The impact on the British tourism market is severe, because transatlantic tourists typically spend £6 for every £1 spent by a domestic tourist. The fall in income could reach £2.5 billion this year, but a survey from the British Tourist Authority suggests that there will be a recovery in the second half of next year.
I have visited New York three times since
Is the Secretary of State aware that the BTA has estimated a fall in overseas visitor numbers of up to 25 per cent. for the final quarter of this year? Given the pressure that the industry was already under as an after-effect of the foot and mouth crisis, what practical steps are Ministers taking—other than earning air miles—to alleviate the industry's problems?
The tourism industry was hit hard in a multitude of ways by the terrorist attack on
May I remind my right hon. Friend of one of our more successful tourist venues, the Aldeburgh festival, which took place at the weekend? It is one of our major literary festivals and I am delighted to say that it was absolutely packed out. Will she congratulate all those involved in its organisation, including Michael Laskey and Naomi Jaffa, on producing such a successful event?
Does the Secretary of State agree that there is no historical analogy with the last great disaster in tourism to affect the United Kingdom, which happened after the American bombing of Libya and events in Chernobyl? The recovery then was led by the airline industry. Does she also agree that £5 million expenditure is peanuts? If she does not authorise a massive increase in spending through the devolved Assemblies, her Department and the tourism authorities, the industry will not recover to benefit the UK.
Having had the opportunity in New York to talk to the BTA and American tourism bodies, it is clear that marketing travel to Americans at the moment will not get New Yorkers who do not want to leave home and are afraid of flying on to planes. That is why the BTA's strategy of marketing Britain to other countries that are part of the major market for inbound tourism is right. It welcomed the opportunity to reallocate resources, and I hope that that, coupled with its commitment, will be borne out by an increase in the number of visitors to Britain.
Does my right hon. Friend recall in her discussions with the BTA mention of one of its most successful publications linking film production to tourism? Given the increase in tourism at Alnwick castle after "Elizabeth" and in Sheffield after "The Full Monty", and given the success of the Harry Potter film, will she link both industries in the interests of both?
I understand that the BTA has been involved in the development of a promotional film making precisely the link to which my right hon. Friend refers. We have also used football to promote British tourism in addition to the normal attractions of culture and heritage. So, the BTA is looking imaginatively at ways of marketing Britain, and I hope that that will be rewarded with the success that it deserves.
My husband works for an American airline company, so the House will appreciate that I am only too aware of the effects on the promotion of English tourism caused by the tragedies on
Does the Secretary of State accept that tourism numbers were already down before
I welcome the hon. Lady to her new responsibilities on the Front Bench.
The hon. Lady will be well aware that the figures were down as a result of foot and mouth, but as I said in response to an earlier question, they were recovering, especially in transatlantic travel. Domestically, the picture is patchy. It is clear—in the work that we have been doing with leaders of the tourism industry, there is widespread recognition of this—that although tourism was badly hit by foot and mouth and then by the events of