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END UNFAIR SUBSIDY OF CHEAP AIR TRAVEL TO REGENERATE BRITISH SEASIDE RESORTS, TRAVELODGE TELLS INQUIRY

29th Jan 2008


END UNFAIR SUBSIDY OF CHEAP AIR TRAVEL TO REGENERATE BRITISH SEASIDE RESORTS, TRAVELODGE TELLS INQUIRY

Travelodge, the UK's fastest growing budget hotel chain, told a House of Commons Select Committee inquiry into tourism today that unfair tax breaks for short haul airlines* are slowly bringing the curtain down on regional tourism including Britain's seaside resorts.

Travelodge Director of Communications Greg Dawson claimed budget airlines "are the single biggest cause of decline in traditional tourism resorts and we urge the Inquiry and Government to investigate the airlines' unfair grip on holidaymakers that is squeezing the life out of British tourism."

Research provided to the Inquiry reveals:

- Inward tourism spend declined 16% between 1995 and 2002; outward spend increased 48% creating a tourism balance of trade deficit of 18bn
- The North East region has a tourism deficit of 2.5bn South West 1.5bn, Midlands 4bn and North West tourism economy exports 2.5bn more in spending overseas that it attracts**
- All are forecast to double by 2020 creating a national deficit of 58 Million visits and 25 Billion spending

He continued: "VAT exemption on flights immediately puts domestic tourism on the back foot. It is an inbuilt cost incentive to holiday abroad rather than stay at British resorts and attractions. We call on the Government to create a fair playing field for British tourism by adding VAT to air travel.

"What are the budget airlines doing to attract more international visitors into the UK? Tourism and the airlines must work together from now on. A 10% reduction in overseas flights by British tourists by 2020 would create 31, 250 jobs and inject 1Billion*** into struggling tourism locations outside of London. Our Prime Minister's love of Britishness must now embrace the challenge of saving seaside tourism."

Travelodge CEO Grant Hearn told the Inquiry: "Labour has thrown away of decade of growth potential for the tourism industry.

"7 Tourism Ministers, a 10 year funding freeze, a 9% drop in world market share and the slowest growth rate of growth of our European competitors is a sad story of mismanagement and failed policy. Winning the 2012 Olympics was a highlight but the Government is still dithering over whether to release the funds needed to secure the much hyped tourism legacy.

"Today we called on the Government to embrace tourism as a national economic priority, address the complete lack of a coherent business plan for British tourism growth and suggest that the Prime Minister follows the example of successful European tourism economies by moving tourism from a
culture to an industry focused department. We are ready to engage in anyway the Prime Minister wants."

Travelodge CEO Grant Hearn forecast that regional and seaside tourism could be rebuilt through a combination of private sector investment, Government incentives to attract new attractions and better marketing.

Following a 7% year on year rise in visitor numbers to its seaside properties, Travelodge will today announced it will invest 50 Million doubling its number of seaside hotels to 20 by 2010.

New hotels in Worthing, Great Yarmouth, Brighton, Bournemouth, Scarborough, Eastbourne and Blackpool (2) will spearhead the Company's campaign to help regenerate seaside resorts.


---Ends---

For more information, please contact:
Mark Hutcheon, ReputationInc Tel: 0203 178 4765
Shakila Ahmed, Head of Consumer PR - Travelodge
T: 01844 358 703
E: pressoffice@travelodge.co.uk

Notes to editors:

*Budget airlines receive 10 billion in tax breaks each year because of tax-free fuel and VAT-free tickets and planes.
**Source: Friends of the Earth
***Research contained in Travelodge submission to Inquiry

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