Tourism bosses are calling on the Government to support British tourism after funding for VisitBritain was slashed by 18%.

The Tourism Alliance has teamed up with at least 30 top industry figures, including British Hospitality Association chief executive Bob Cotton OBE, Business Tourism Partnership chairman Michael Hirst OBE and European Tour Operators Association director general Tom Jenkins, to write a letter to The Times.

They claim Britain is losing out in the international tourism market to countries where governments recognise the importance of tourism and promote their national industry.

The letter reads: “The UK needs VisitBritain to be adequately resourced to lead our overseas and domestic tourism marketing. Suggestions that these cuts can be offset by money clawed back from the regions or local authorities are unrealistic.

“If we are not to lose Britain’s status as the fifth most popular tourist destination in the world, nor squander the opportunity of the 2012 Games, the Government needs to demonstrate that it takes tourism seriously.

“The tourism industry therefore calls on the Culture Secretary James Purnell MP to urgently review the Government’s policy and to support British tourism with the funding needed to maintain our competitive position.”

Culture secretary James Purnell told the marketing body at the end of October that its funding would be slashed from £55.1 million this financial year to £45.8 million in 2010 to 11.