Tourism chiefs call for government funds

Leading Norfolk tourism chiefs have demanded David Cameron puts his money where his mouth is after he promised to give the county's �2.5bn tourism industry the backing it deserves.

Leading Norfolk tourism chiefs have demanded David Cameron puts his money where his mouth is after he promised to give the county's �2.5bn tourism industry the backing it deserves.

The prime minister yesterday set out his dream of creating the strongest tourism strategy possible after he claimed it had been neglected under Labour.

However, his Downing Street speech did not detail any specific policies his coalition government would bring in to bolster the country's and Norfolk's tourism sector.

Following the speech, Norfolk Tourism and VisitNorwich set out their list of demands for the prime minister to implement if he wants to help.

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The demands included VAT relief and dualling the A11.

Michael Timewell, chairman of Norfolk Tourism, said: “We welcome the prime minister's speech and hope it will result in a real and sustained interest in tourism.

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“We look forward to seeing the detail.

“In Norfolk, the industry is worth �2.5bn to the local economy and supports 47,000 jobs - our tourism businesses are a vital part of the county's economy.”

Mr Timewell went on to suggest six policies Mr Cameron should adopt: dualling the A11; VAT relief for tourism businesses; investing in the Norwich to London rail link; sustained investment in marketing Norfolk; tourism grants to encourage start-ups and support for existing businesses as they grow; and a stable tourism structure locally and nationally.

Clare Millar, head of VisitNorwich, said: “We warmly welcome what the prime minister has said since tourism has too often been the poor relation when its comes to public funding.

“In terms of shifts in government policy, we would very much like to see the following: funding for tourism development and promotion at the local level; an emphasis on getting funding into the real brands and destinations such as Norwich and the Broads; and specific additional funding for prime destinations such as Norwich and Norfolk between now and 2012.

“If we really want to maximise our opportunity, it would be good to also hear the prime minister confirm positive messages about improve-ments to infrastructure including decisions on dualling the A11, firm decisions on the Norwich to London rail franchise and investment in rail services and capacity.”

Mr Cameron made his tourism pledge as he promised to get Britain back into the top five global destinations for holidaymakers to boost the nation's economy.

He said: “We are going to be a government that understands the huge potential of our tourism industry and that gives the industry the backing it needs.

“The last government underplayed our tourist industry. They just did not get our heritage.”

Mr Cameron went on to say how much he loved Britain's varied seaside towns and swam on a Norfolk beach.

He said: “The beautiful 'Mediterr-anean' coastline that Gwyneth Paltrow was washed up on at the end of Shakespeare in Love was actually Holkham beach where I went swimming one April.”

Britain's tourism industry generates �115bn a year and the country is 11th on the World Economic Forum's tourism competitiveness rating.

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