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National heritage secretary Virginia Bottomley has further strengthened the government's partnership with the touri...
National heritage secretary Virginia Bottomley has further strengthened the government's partnership with the tourism industry by announcing the formation of a group of tourism and hospitality experts to help get the industry in the best possible shape to face world competition.

The group will include representatives from the tourist boards and the industry. Members will be drawn from the group to work closely with the department of national hertiage and bring their experience to key areas outlined in the third Competitiveness White Paper, Creating the Enterprise Centre of Europe.

Mrs Bottomley said:

'Good communication between the industry, the tourist boards and government is key to tourism's future growth and prosperity. My department will draw on the group's extensive knowledge and expertise which will complement the work of the tourist boards. I am confident it will strengthen our links with the industry and ensure a more effective partnership.

'The potential of tourism is enormous. We are facing an explosion in the world travel market and we must ensure that Britain is in fighting form. We have already done much to improve the industry's competitiveness. We must continue to set out our agenda for the millennium and beyond.

'As outlined in the white paper, we are currently carrying out two major tourism projects. One focuses on how the industry uses its people. The other is a study of the domestic holiday market. I will be looking to members of the group to provide practical guidance and to help the department take forward the findings of both projects.

'People are the industry's most important asset. We want to find out how the industry recruits, manages and develops its staff in order to draw up a detailed picture of the labour market. The aim of the project is to identify ways that the industry can make more effective use of its human resources and so increase its competitiveness.

'Work has recently started on the English Tourist Board (ETB) led study of the domestic holiday market to help us set up an effective strategy to ensure more people take holidays at home. The study will pinpoint trends and help us gain a greater understanding of the domestic market. We will use the research to better sell Britain as a holiday destination to the British and grow this vital area.

'We are continuing to promote the findings of our benchmarking study which provides hoteliers with practical advice to help them increase both customer satisfaction and profitability.

'Work on the ETB's comprehensive review of the Crown Scheme is nearing its conclusion. Its findings will ensure consumers from home and abroad can look to Crown classification as a reliable guide to quality accommodation.

'The government is committed to policies that will provide the tourism industry with the best possible framework on which to build and compete effectively in the global marketplace.

'Close dialogue between the industry and government is vital if we are to offer effective support. We have already laid firm foundations for a strong partnership through the tourist boards and by the use of industry secondees to the Department. The creation of a group of experts will help us build on and develop that partnership still further.

'Tourism is set to be the world's fastest growing industry by the millennium. The world market is becoming increasingly competitive. We must be prepared for the challenges ahead. By working together to make the industry fighting fit we will ensure we leave the competition far behind.'

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