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Tourism Society 2009 Annual Conference

Tourism can save the UK economy

The 120 delegates at the Tourism Society 2009 Annual Conference unanimously agreed that the tourism industry has the potential to save the UK economy. The conference included presentations from different regions and sectors of the industry, kicking off with a keynote speech from Nigel Leacock MTS, Managing Director of Lloyds TSB Cardnet who warned the UK recession could continue into 2010. The new Chairman of VisitEngland, Penelope Lady Cobham FTS, stated that 87% of the people who took an English break or holiday last year said they plan to do so again this year. She went on to say “there are few other opportunities for sustainable growth for Britain emerging from this recession. Inbound tourism and the British staying at home instead of going abroad are capable of generating massive economic gains”.

Perhaps the most eye-opening statistic of the day came from Deborah Evans MTS from the London Development Agency who announced that a 3-month New Year campaign to market London to Europe had cost £600,000 but generated a proven £11million economic impact. This had impressed the LDA board so much that “if they are only looking at return on investment they would spend their entire budget on tourism marketing.”

Sir Thomas Ingilby FTS from Ripley Castle announced that the £30million investment in tourism promotion in Yorkshire had resulted in the largest rise for attraction visits of any region in the UK. Sir Thomas commented that this was “proof that if it were so minded, the government could provide a considerable boost to the national and regional economies and shorten the recession by investing more money promoting the country for tourism.”

The importance of bringing large exhibitions to the UK was demonstrated by Nick Cust OBE MTS of Superbreak who sold 2,000 tickets to the First Emperor Exhibition in just four weeks with a night’s accommodation in London.

David Bailey from TRI Hospitality noted that the budget hotel sector is doing surprisingly well; a sector which only started in 1985 is now worth £1.3bn, which outperforms sales of Coca Cola in the UK (£969m).

The next Society event will take place on 14th July in London at the Royal College of Physicians, joint with the UNWTO, the debate with international tourism ministers and the new Secretary General of the UNWTO will look at tourism’s role in the G:20 economies. Visit for more information.