VisitBritain forced to review Olympic plans as budget is slashed 34%

VisitBritain is to review its operations
further to keep its Olympic tourism strategy on course after the national
tourism board had its budget slashed 34 per cent. The swingeing cut was
announced just hours before the meetings and events industry, led by the
Business Visits and Events Partnership, presents its case to over 60 MPs at the
House of Commons.

A reduced four-year budget settlement
translates as £26.5m in 2011/12, reducing to £21.2m in 2014/15. This compares
with the current year’s grant in aid of £28.8m, its chairman Christopher
Rodrigues said today (20 October). He was responding to the Department for
Culture, Media and Sport setting the new level for the national tourism
agency. 

“This Government understands the value
VisitBritain brings to Britain’s tourism industry, but this
is tough love,” Rodrigues claimed and said VisitBritain would respond to the
settlement “by further cutting overheads and reducing its physical network
overseas to retain as much money as possible for our global marketing
effort”.

Rodrigues added: “It is less than two years
until the eyes of the world will be on the opening ceremony of the London Games.
We have a great chance to use the unprecedented level of media exposure that the
event will bring to boost Britain’s image abroad. We are
determined to do our utmost, despite this reduced
funding.”

Chief Executive of VisitBritain, Sandie Dawe,
described the budget cut as “significant” but claimed it would not change the
agency’s objectives.

“Our aim now is
to tighten our focus clearly onto the UK’s key markets,” said Dawe, “ones
that are already delivering for us and those emerging markets that are key to
our future.”

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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