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VisitBritain's 5% budget cut: Keep cool and carry on?

Although -or perhaps, since- recent tourism figures have been excellent in the United Kingdom, with an 8% year-on-year increase in arrivals and strong RevPAR increases over the first semester of 2014, VisitBritain will face a 5% budget cut in 2015/2016. As this cut turns out to be lower than expected, the promotion agency declared it was happy and confident about UK's prospects.

Tourism has recently been on a very positive trend in the United Kingdom: over the first semester of 2014, the country recorded an 8% year-on-year increase in foreign arrivals and very solid RevPAR increases in most local markets.

Still -or perhaps because of this positive momentum- the DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) announced it will proceed with expected budget cuts. VisitBritain, the country's tourism promotion agency, will face a 5% decrease in its budget next year, and yet its management is happy about this. Indeed, many observers believed the budget cut would be steeper, so the 5% unveiled turns out to be less painful than initially expected: this is why the agency's officials and local tourism actors reacted positively to this news.

Christophe Rodrigues, VisitBritain's chairman, thus offered a positive view on the matter: "This is a good result for VisitBritain and clear evidence of ministers' commitment to the tourism industry. This government understands the importance of tourism as one of the country’s leading export industries and a powerful engine of job creation.

Hugh Robertson, minister for tourism, said: “Tourism is a key growth area and has a vital role to play in securing an economic legacy from London 2012. We will continue to work closely with the sector to do all we can to help it increase its contribution to the economy.” With a lower budget but growth in arrivals, Britain sticks to its strong ambitions.

Getting to details though, the cut will not apply similarly to all UK members: VisitEngland, England's tourism promotion agency, has had its budget "ringfenced" so will face no decrease in its budget. This implies that applicable budget cuts will be focused on the central agency's expenditures and/or on those of other local promotion agencies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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