As many as three million jobs supported by tourism in England are at risk due to the impact of Covid-19 unless the government overhauls its support for the industry.
The warning came from the Tourism Society in a call for MPs to launch an inquiry into the issue as the pandemic has “decimated” the sector.
The trade body has written to the chairman of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee demanding a probe into the current structure covering tourism.
The Tourism Society is lobbying for a new strategy “to provide a vision and direction for the development and management of the sector”.
It wants to see a policy to strengthen domestic tourism and redress the “highly negative” tourism balance of payments – with UK spending on outbound trips exceeding inbound by about £15 billion.
The tourism sector currently suffers from a “haphazard system of support” which fails to reflect the varying needs and potential of different areas.
This has followed the tourism structure in England having been dismantled by consecutive governments over the last 20 years.
The national organisation Visit England does not have responsibility for marketing England at home unlike the national tourism organisations in the devolved nations, the Tourism Society argues.
Chairman Kevin Kaley said: “The current structure in England is not conducive to an effective rebuild of the tourism economy post Covid-19.
“The pandemic’s swift and severe impact on the tourism sector highlights the weaknesses from the lack of a well-financed and clear tourism structure in England.
“The disparity in resources between destination management organisations has led to a high variation in the level of support they can offer their businesses.
“Addressing this is crucial if we are to ensure that our industry can recover swiftly and sustainably.”
He added: “To underpin the recovery of the economy we recommend the strengthening of the English tourism structure through high yield, sustainable growth.
“England’s tourism sector needs much stronger leadership and better co-ordination if its economy is to recover, rebuild and become more resilient.”
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