Tourism bodies push for budget increase

Tourism chiefs have called on the government to stop splitting promotional budgets between 'ineffective' regional development agencies and centralise an increased spend in national bodies such as VisitBritain ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.

The calls follow a meeting last week between tourism body leaders and the government to put in place early plans for the Games. It comes ahead of a three-year review of VisitBritain's spending, which is due next year.

According to VisitBritain director of strategy and communications Sandie Dawe, the agency will be pressing the government to increase its current promotional budget of £35m so it can capitalise on the 2012 Olympics.

'Part of our Olympic bid was based on delivering a benefit to the whole of Britain and we will be looking at an aligned campaign to deliver this,' she said.

Stephen Dowd, chief executive of British travel trade body Ukinbound, said marketing investment would be more effective if it was centralised.

'The government gives £200m to the regional development agencies, but 95% of that spend is wasted.'

Dawe agreed there was a lack of co-ordination between the bodies promoting Britain as a tourist destination but insisted that there was still a need for 'investment in the regional bodies, as well as strong national development'.

The government has said the 2012 London Olympics could boost the country's tourism revenue by 25% and it has challenged industry and national agencies to devise a plan to take advantage of the Games.

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