The Government has announced an 18% cut in funding for VisitBritain over the next three years.

Culture secretary James Purnell told the tourism marketing body its funding would be reduced from £55.1 million this financial year to £45.8 million in 2010-11.

He said the review would provide an opportunity for VisitBritain to “focus on its priorities and act as a catalyst for other agencies”.

Chairman of VisitBritain Christopher Rodrigues said the funding cut would be “challenging” for the body but it would remain committed to delivering the tourism benefits of the Olympics.

Tourism Alliance chair Ros Prichard OBE slammed the Goverment’s decision.

She said: “This lack of understanding and joined up thinking makes a mockery of the Government’s new Olympic Tourism Strategy that was just launched last month.

“To achieve tourism’s potential up to and beyond the Olympics, we need to invest in tourism development and marketing to challenge competitor destinations for overseas visitors and motivate more UK residents to holiday in the country. This is a simple business principle that the Government just doesn’t seem able to grasp.”