Local tourism leaders meet Conservative MP

THE region's tourism leaders have heard calls to push the crucial industry further up the political agenda following a Tourism Forum in Barnstaple. The event at the Park Hotel was organised by North Devon Plus and guest speaker was Tobias Ellwood MP, Shad

THE region's tourism leaders have heard calls to push the crucial industry further up the political agenda following a Tourism Forum in Barnstaple.The event at the Park Hotel was organised by North Devon Plus and guest speaker was Tobias Ellwood MP, Shadow Tourism Minister, who said the country had to do more to promote its fifth biggest industry.Mr Ellwood was speaking at the forum following the invitation of Philip Milton, Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for North Devon.The aim of the event was to discuss tourism in North Devon and Torridge. After short presentations from Commercial Director Robin Makeig-Jones, Marketing Manager Sarah Steptoe and Business Adviser Janet Hernaman, their guest addressed the meeting on the latest Conservative views for tourism strategy.He said that in 1997 the country had 6.7 per cent of global tourism, which has now dropped to 3.9.He noted DEFRA has a �30 million budget for farm diversification, including holidays, whilst Visit Britain's overall budget was only �11 million and that Yorkshire tourism is spending �30 million advertising itself in America alone.There was "no joined-up thinking" in relation to the significance of tourism, with the last Tourism Act in 1969 he said.A question and answer session with the audience saw a number of points raised, including the need for an effective and efficient transport infrastructure in North Devon.There was a call for clarity in relation to the many tourism bodies which seemed to proliferate across the country and with a mixture of accreditation processes which seem unwieldy, expensive and impractical.Mr Ellwood pledged a future Conservative Government would do something about this and ensure money would be better spent to boost the industry across the UK.He said he would return regularly for further meetings with tourism leaders and recognised the importance of North Devon and the successful model of North Devon Plus.Philip Milton, who is also a licensee and local hotelier himself, has promised to pass further concerns on to Mr Ellwood, who will be tabling numerous parliamentary questions as a result of his visit.


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