Prime Minister David Cameron has thrown his weight behind Britain's tourism industry, as he set out a vision for the country to be one of the world's top five destinations.
Speaking in central London today Cameron said that the sector had been viewed as 'second class' for too long and that it was essential to rebuilding the British economy.
And he highlighted the fact that tourism was Britain's third biggest export earner after chemicals and financial services, as well as having a large domestic market.
Cameron, who claimed to have holidayed throughout the country, said: "This really will be the greatest sporting decade in British history. And of course there will be great non-sporting moments too like the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. We have to ensure that when the cameras leave after all these great events the people don't leave with them. And that the benefits are spread across the country and not just felt here in London or in our other major cities.
We can do even better - the missed opportunity."
"But quite frankly, right now, we're just not doing enough to make the most of our tourism. The last government underplayed our tourist industry. There were eight different Ministers with responsibility for tourism in just thirteen years. They just didn't get our heritage. They raided the national lottery taking money from heritage because it didn't go with their image of 'cool Britannia'."
"I want to see us in the top five destinations in the world. But that means being much more competitive internationally. Take Chinese tourists, for example. We're their 22nd most popular destination. But Germany is forecast to break into their top ten. Why can't we?"
And he promised that Britain's 200,000 tourism businesses would benefit from a reduction in red tape and business taxes, which includes pre-announced measures such as waiving some employment taxes on the first 10 jobs created by new businesses outside London, the South East and the Eastern Region, as well as cutting the main rate of corporation tax to 24p and the small companies rate to 20p.
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