Prime Minister Gordon Brown hosted his first Cabinet meeting of 2009 at ACC Liverpool today, only the third time a Prime Minister has called a cabinet meeting outside London or Chequers in almost 90 years.
Senior ministers convened a 90-minute Cabinet session at the BT Convention Centre, followed by a public Q&A session.
Gordon Brown also addressed a tourism summit where representatives from public and private sector organisations reminded government that, with the financial services sector shrinking, Britain needs to look to other industries to deliver revenue and create jobs. Now, they say, is the moment to invest in the £114 billion visitor economy.
Led by national tourism agency VisitBritain, the summit highlighted tourism’s role as a fast creator of jobs – for every £40,000 spent in the visitor economy, one tourism job is created. Tourism leaders warned that without investment for growth, the economic downturn could result in 114,000 fewer jobs in the sector.
Executive chairman of VisitBritain, Christopher Rodrigues, chaired the summit and says: “To realise all of the benefits which flow from tourism – jobs created, vibrant communities regenerated, health and wellbeing improved, overseas investment in the UK increased and foreign exchange generated, our cultural and natural assets appreciated and celebrated, and Britain’s contribution and place in the world acknowledged – we must invest, politically and financially.”
“We can choose to invest for that growth and thereby build our national economy, or we can fail to take action and accept the gradual decline of the industry and its worth.”
Tourism minister Barbara Follett says that over the next ten years the UK will be hosting a series of exceptional sporting and cultural events: “Building on the Liverpool model we hope to use these to boost visitor numbers and the tourist economy.”
General manager of the BT Convention Centre Jacquie Rogers (pictured with Gordon Brown and ACCL chief executive Bob Prattey), says No 10’s decision to bring the Cabinet meeting to Liverpool is a reflection of the excellence of the venue and the vast strides the city itself has made.
“Although we may be a relatively new venue, our team has extensive experience of managing high profile and high security political conferences,” says Rogers, who stresses the BT Convention Centre’s “world-class facilities and the fact that it is effectively surrounded on three sides by water, makes it extremely secure”.
In Liverpool’s Capital of Culture Year, 2008, the ACCL contributed some £200m to the city region’s economy, with 700,000 people passing through its doors.