Tourism set to suffer further without coherent action plan, says BHA boss

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Tourism in England, which has already been hit hard by foot-and-mouth disease and the events of September 11, will continue to suffer in the future,...

Tourism in England, which has already been hit hard by foot-and-mouth disease and the events of September 11, will continue to suffer in the future, according to experts.

Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, has hit out at the organisation of tourism in England and warned it will not recover without a marketing plan.

Mr Cotton said in times of crisis such as last year, "what is required is a strategy which brings together all the different strands that affect tourism - marketing, funding, research - so a coherent action plan can be drawn up that shows the industry the way forward".

Pubs have been particularly badly hit by the slump in tourism. Many rural pubs have been forced to close since last year's foot-and-mouth outbreak while those in towns and cities have been affected by the terrorist attacks.

Speaking to members of Best Western at the hotel consortium's annual conference last week, Mr Cotton said the English Tourism Council had no resources to promote tourism in England even though Scotland and Wales had their own organisations.

He added that the English regions were promoting themselves individually without any reference to a much needed "holiday in Britain" message.

"There is no clear tourism structure," he said. "There is too much confusion. There is far too little coherence and co-operation."

In October, the Government hit out at the tourism trade for failing to speak with one voice.

The trade responded by forming the Tourism Alliance with pubs being represented on the body by the British Beer and Pub Association and the British Hospitality Association.

But pubs, particularly in rural areas, are still suffering.

Later this month the UK Rural Business Campaign will present the Government with a writ for £5.1bn. The group claims the Government acted illegally when it compensated farmers for the effects of foot-and-mouth disease, but failed to compensate other businesses such as pubs.

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