ONE of Britain’s biggest hoteliers today called for the Government to back Blackpool’s tourism industry.
Travelodge, which has invested in three hotels in Blackpool and is due to open a fourth in St Annes, urged local MPs to support it by fighting for tourism in Parliament.
The budget hotelier believes if the Government promoted tourism more seriously the benefit could be an extra £500m of revenue – bringing 1,050 jobs to Blackpool.
It is also backing calls to cut VAT on UK tourism to bring it in line with other European countries to ensure hotels remain competitive in these difficult times.
Hotel bosses want to see the rate reduced from 20 to five per cent which they believe would help create 79,000 jobs nationally – of which a large proportion would go to workers aged between 16-24.
And they today called on Blackpool MPs Gordon Marsden and Paul Maynard to lobby Parliament’s decision makers.
Guy Parsons, chief executive of Travelodge Hotels, said: “Despite being the fifth largest industry in Britain tourism is virtually neglected in the House of Commons.
“We are one of the few sectors of the economy that can quickly create meaningful jobs and help to pull the country out of its present difficulty.
“To truly be able to do this however we need MPs who will stand up and champion tourism’s cause.
“We have invited Paul and Gordon to visit one of our three hotels in Blackpool so they can see the job opportunities and careers that tourism can offer.”
But Mr Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said any criticism was not justified as he fully supports Travelodge and their calls for a VAT cut.
He said: “I called for a VAT cut just yesterday when I hosted the Tourism Alliance’s reception here in Westminster and spoke at it.
“It’s an issue I’ve raised with ministers, and will keep on raising, as I think the case is a strong one.”
Mr Maynard is chairman of the All-Party Group on Social Tourism, and a Vice-Chair of the main Tourism Group.
He added: “Why should we be in a minority in Europe in imposing VAT on amusement park admission, for example.
“No wonder Merlin advertises prices with and without VAT to make the point to Blackpool’s tourists.
“I’m sure many of my local small hoteliers will have many questions they would want me to ask of Travelodge, so maybe they could send them in as well”.
During his visit to the resort in January, David Cameron emphasised the importance of the tourism industry – and said the resort was a special place to him.
But he was unable to offer hope of cutting VAT for the tourism industry, stating the tax was needed to help tackle the budget deficit.
Blackpool hotelier and holiday flat owner, Mick Grewcock, says Britain’s VAT rate was crippling the resort’s tourism industry.
He said: “Our VAT bills are huge, we pay an incredible amount. It is a fifth of what we earn and taking that much away means we struggle, as to other Blackpool businesses.”
This week is English Tourism Week and MPs are being encouraged to visit and support local attractions.
Tony Openshaw, marketing director of Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board said: “The visitor economy is worth £97bn a year to England. It is England’s third largest employer.
“This year, with Lancashire hosting to the Open Golf Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes as well as Preston Guild we have a great opportunity to demonstrate our wonderful and diverse tourism offer.
“Match this with some of the county’s most spectacular annual events taking place in Blackpool, such as the Illuminations, and we are well placed to increase the county’s £3.25bn visitor economy and build on our 60 million visitors.”