BTA and ETC pool their resources for merger

The British Tourism Authority (BTA) and the English Tourism Council (ETC) are to merge to create a unified body. The body is as yet unnamed but will be effective from 1 April this year. It will be headed up by BTA chief executive Tom Wright. Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport Tessa Jowell explained the need to strengthen the marketing of Britain. “These two organisations have served tourism well, but combining their resources and strengths allows us to develop more quickly the marketing team we need for England,” she said. Jowell added additional funding of £10m would be made available for tourism in England over three years following on from the reforms. Business Tourism Partnership (BTP) chairman Michael Hirst welcomed the move. “We will fully back all the plans as long as the recommendations leading to this merger are followed through.” Hirst explained the recommendations the new body has set out include 20% of the marketing focus to be on business tourism. Other plans include gathering greater market intelligence and creating a global database of business events, as well as ministers becoming more involved in the pitch process. There are also plans to develop new products for the incentive market and to call for better partnerships between destinations. “This is very exciting for the UK C&I market, and I have been given verbal assurances by Kim Howells [Minister of Tourism] and Tom Wright that business tourism will remain key,” adds Hirst. The BTA’s strategy for tourism, laid out at the end of last year, will still be adhered to post merger. Its current indicators point to business tourism accounting for 45% of inbound tourism expenditure by the year 2010.

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