Ministers came in for sharp criticism from inbound tourism leaders yesterday, with the government described as “the weak link in the chain” in delivering more visitors.

Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) said: “The Australian government failed to capitalise on the Sydney Olympics because it cut funding on overseas marketing and now that is what George Osborne is doing.”

Speaking on the day Chancellor George Osborne announced a new round of spending cuts, Donoghue told the Abta Travel Matters conference in London: “The government is the weak link in the chain in developing the Olympic legacy.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which covers tourism suffered a 7% cut in funding, but and reports suggested VisitBritain would see a 12% reduction.

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Shaw did not comment on the budget cust, but said: “The visa regime, airport capacity and aviation taxes are holding us back and they are policy levers.

“The government wants visitors from the Bric countries, and the Brics are where there is the least connectivity and visitors need a visa other than from Brazil.”

However, Shearings chief executive Dennis Wormwell said: “Ministers are all constrained. Government bashing at these events is great, but we want to work with these people.”