Hirst lambasts Government stance

Business Tourism Partnership (BTP) chairman Michael Hirst has hit out at the Government and Visit Britain in particular for its lack of support in attracting business travel groups to the UK. Speaking at this morning’s British Tourism Week Breakfast Summit Meeting, produced by Eventia and supported by Visit Britain and the BTP, Hirst said the UK was considered expensive and most other EU countries had lower levels of VAT and transport taxes. He added that only 5% of Visit Britain’s budget was spent on business tourism. "We need greater resources to attract business travellers," he said. In response, Visit Britain head of business visits and events Joss Croft said: "We are constantly asking for more funding." The body had put in a bid for additional funding related to business visits and events connected with the Olympics. He said business visitors contributed 28% of spending by all visitors to the UK. Of that figure, 84% came from corporate meetings, which were less open to influence than association meetings and other events. Elsewhere in his presentation, Hirst criticised senior government representatives for not matching their international counterparts in backing the UK meetings industry. "We need greater assistance from ministers as part of the bidding process," said Hirst. "It happens with major sporting events – why not showcase business events, as happens in other countries?"

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