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Former Tourism Minister Calls For Independent VisitEngland

Wallace-and-GromitFormer tourism minister John Penrose is calling for full independence for VisitEngland.

The domestic tourism body is still legally part of VisitBritain – the only one of the national tourist boards in the UK still in this position.

But Penrose – tourism minister in 2011 – believes England needs its own standalone tourism board to match VisitScotland, VisitWales and Discover Northern Ireland.

His proposals also call for VisitEngland to be refocused, to spend more time helping local tourism boards across England to market their areas better in future, and both VisitEngland and VisitBritain should also do more partnership marketing with companies in the tourism industry.

This would make them steadily less dependent on government funding and ultimately abandon being quangos entirely, to become industry-wide trade bodies coordinating tourism marketing campaigns instead, according to Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare.

He has written to Mark Fisher, head of a triennial review of tourism quangos, recommending the changes, citing calls for greater devolution of powers in the wake of the Scottish independence referendum.

Penrose said: “VisitEngland and VisitBritain are vital cogs in tourism’s wheel. Without their work, our visitor economy wouldn’t have been nearly so successful, and the Olympic tourism legacy would have been a lot smaller.

“But the world moves on, so they need to deal with new challenges. VisitEngland should be fully independent, so it can match VisitScotland, VisitWales or Discover Northern Ireland at last.

“And both VisitBritain and VisitEngland should ramp up their partnership marketing still further, so they steadily grow out of their dependence on government cash and eventually become industry-wide marketing coordinators instead of public sector quangos.”

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