VisitBritain‘s London office faces losing 40% of its current 225-strong staff as the tourism board undergoes a restructure and following funding cuts.
A further 25% of overseas staff will also be shed reducing the number of people abroad actively promoting the UK as a holiday destination to around 145 employees. A staff consultation is now underway.
The cuts have been justified as part of an ongoing restructure of the UK’s tourism promotion business which has seen an increased devolution of public sector responsibility to Scotland, Wales, London and the English regions.
The situation has also come about following the 18% drop in Government funding from £55.1 million over the next three years which was announced earlier this year.
VisitBritain chief executive Tom Wright said: “This restructure is designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the national tourism organisation, taking into account the devolution of tourism over the last few years.
“Our focus will be on representing the collective interests of Britain’s nations and regions, adding value to the travel industry and its public sector agencies and delivering shared platforms and distribution services overseas, while enabling the development of a robust strategy for English tourism.”
However, the move has angered inbound tour operator group UKinbound which has joined the Tourism Alliance in condemning the announcement.
UKinbound chief executive Stephen Dowd said: “Having already shed over 120 posts within the last two years these latest cuts will seriously undermine VisitBritain’s ability to deliver its core functions, let alone the additional demands of promoting the UK during the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games.
“This announcement can only demoralise an organisation that has been restructured 4 times in just five years by a government that is unable, or unwilling, to appreciate the value and importance of inbound tourism to the UK economy.”