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Fading attraction by tyndale


									                                         Fading attraction
                                                                            From The Economist, April 8th 1999

                       Britain is not attracting as many tourists as it should

Spring is in the air and tourists in London are once again succumbing to the pleasures of being
swamped by pigeons in Trafalgar Square, or peering over each other’s heads to watch the changing
of the guard. Londoners, in turn, are starting their annual grumbles about the impossibility of
getting a seat on the tube, as it heaves under the pressure of German backpackers and Japanese

But although Britain may look as though it is stuffed with tourists, it is in fact not doing as well as it
should be. It remains the fifth most popular tourist destination in the world (see chart). But for the
past three years, the number of visitors coming to Britain has been virtually static - despite
continuing rapid growth in world tourism. The slowdown has not come out of the blue. Between
1980 and 1990, international tourism to Britain grew at an annual rate of 5.7% compared with a
world average of 8.5%.

Since tourism is now the world’s largest industry, that has serious economic implications. The
125,000 mostly small British businesses engaged in tourism employ 1.75m people - more than

agriculture, coal mining, steel, car manufacturing, aircraft manufacture, food production and textiles
put together. According to a recent government report, tourism has been responsible for creating
one in every six new jobs over the past decade, and has also generated revenues of more than £50
billion ($79.5 billion) a year, while bringing in 25m foreign visitors.

A tourist industry which fails to live up to its potential will almost certainly cost many more jobs -
but nevertheless attract much less comment and much less government support - than a failing car
plant. Last week, the government is thought to have offered BMW around £150m to keep Rover’s
car factory at Longbridge in Birmingham open. By contrast, funding for the British Tourist
Authority (BTA) last year was £36m - just three times the amount spent by Virginia, a middle-sized
American state.

The current troubles of the British tourism industry are partly a result of the strong pound and
recession in Asia. But years of benign neglect from officialdom have also taken their toll. Although
Chris Smith, the culture secretary, insists that his department places “enormous importance” on
tourism, its lowly status is reflected in the fact that it does not even feature in the department’s full
title of Culture, Media and Sport. Over the past 15 years, there have been at least a dozen ministers
of tourism (officials have lost count) and the junior job has been reshuffled between three
departments, employment, trade and culture. The current incumbent is Janet Anderson, who is best
known for promising while in opposition that there would be “more orgasms under Labour”.

A parliamentary report on the industry two years ago suggested trebling the government’s funding
of tourism, which then stood at £35m. That recommendation has been ignored. In the latest
settlement, following last year’s comprehensive spending review, the BTA’s grant was instead
increased to £36m. “We are deeply concerned that tourism is subordinated in favour of more
glamorous and trivial matters,” noted a follow-up report last year.

Why should tourism be promoted by the state? The most persuasive argument is that it is a
fragmented industry which requires help in marketing, research and strategy. Individual hoteliers or
restaurants, or even small towns, do not have the resources to finance an international advertising
campaign that would ultimately benefit them all. It is also an industry that is labour-intensive and
generates a lot of foreign currency.

Admittedly, the tourist industry does benefit from public spending that does not come from the pot
specifically labelled “tourism”. The British Tourist Authority is placing a lot of its bets on the
millennium. All told, Britain will be spending £3.9 billion on special projects to mark the year
2000: £1.9 billion of this will come from the public purse, of which £400m will be splurged on the
Millennium Dome in London. The BTA predicts that the millennium celebrations will boost tourist
numbers by 3m to 28.3m, and boost revenues from tourism by £2 billion to £14.5 billion.

The industry believes that it has at last begun to get its case across to government. In the past six
months, tourism chiefs have had two meetings with the chancellor. A government strategy paper,
“Tomorrow’s Tourism”, has also been generally welcomed, even if it is woefully short on specifics.
Among its proposals are an annual tourism summit bringing together government a nd industry, new
computerised booking and information systems and a new grading scheme for all hotels.

But the government’s tourism strategy also has some gaps. A particular complaint of the industry is
the high rate of sales tax (VAT) in Britain. The 17.5% standard British levy on hotel
accommodation is the highest in Europe - three times higher than in France, Belgium, Spain,
Portugal and the Netherlands. This is particularly bad news given that the high cost of
accommodation is one of tourists’ most common complaints about Britain. A study by Deloitte

Touche Tohmatsu, an accountancy firm, found that countries such as Ireland, which cut VAT rates
on tourist industries, were rewarded by rapid growth and little or no decline in tax revenues.

There are also worries about domestic tourism. The declining appeal of many British seaside resorts
is a problem. The number of people taking their main holiday in Britain has fallen over the past 20-
odd years: it was 27m in 1975, but only 16.5m in 1996. Blackpool will never be able to match the
sunshine in Benidorm. But making British seaside towns less tacky might attract higher-spending

The government’s new paper has lots to say on the need for depressed English resorts to regenerate,
to adapt and to develop niche markets. But the document is silent about the bizarre disposition of
government funding which has resulted in grants for the English Tourist Board being halved in real
terms since 1991-92, even though 85% of all visitors to Britain visit England exclusively. The
current level of government spending on English tourism is 24p per head of population compared
with £3.78 for Scotland, £5.24 for Wales and £8.45 for Northern Ireland. The parliamentary
committee comments: “It is ludicrous that England’s tourist attractions should be undersold in this

Sir George Russell, head of the Northern Development Corporation, points out that while the
government is happy to spend millions in grants to attract a new factory to the north-east, very little
is spent to advertise the attractions of the Northumbrian countryside - although an expansion in
tourism might generate many more jobs than a semiconductor plant. Sir George says that a tourist
getting on a train at King’s Cross will see large posters advertising the beauties of Scotland, but
nothing on the attractions of the north-east. That, he feels, is a direct reflection of the lower
spending on tourism in England. grant

Quite apart from money, how should Britain be sold? When Labour first came into office, it wa s
very keen on the notion of “rebranding” Britain as a young and modern country. A much-touted
pamphlet by Mark Leonard, now head of a think-tank linked to the Foreign Office, suggested a
tourism strategy that laid more emphasis on “Cool Britannia”, the Britain of “street fashion, London
clothes markets, trendy bars, dressy clubs, way-out designers and artists, and a rich music scene.”

Mr Smith, the culture secretary, initially strongly favoured this approach, but the tourism industry
has mounted an effective rearguard action, arguing that avant-garde artists are never going to be as
big sellers as history. Of course, there is no reason why a coherent strategy could not emphasise
both aspects of Britain. But while it might be uncool to say so, the future of Britain’s tourism
industry may still lie in the past.

SECTION A TASK: To find the meaning of unknown or unfamiliar words used in the text. Match the word
taken from the text with the most suitable definition in the opposite column.

1      fading                                          A      tourists travelling on foot or public transport,
                                                              carrying a rucksack on their shoulders
2      swamped                                         B      income
3      peering                                         C      crowded
4      grumbles                                        D      recession
5      heaves                                          E      happened suddenly and unexpectedly
6      backpackers                                     F      losing
7      Stuffed                                         G      looking very carefully and with difficulty
8      slowdown                                        H      complaints
9      come out of the blue                            I      moves up and down
10     revenues                                        J      surrounded, flooded

1.….; 2…..; 3…..; 4…..; 5…..; 6…..; 7…..; 8…..; 9…..; 10…..

11     live up to                                      A      reorganised
12     nevertheless                                    B      increasing
13     officialdom                                     C      further
14     taken their toll                                D      exciting, attractive
15     reshuffled                                      E      be as good as what was expected or promised
16     incumbent                                       F      unimportant, insignificant
17     trebling                                        G      nonetheless, despite this
18     glamorous                                       H      harmed, damaged people
19     trivial                                         I      person in charge
20     follow-up                                       J      government departments

11.….; 12…..; 13…..; 14…..; 15…..; 16…..; 17…..; 18…..; 19…..; 20…..

21     pot                                             A      tax
22     bets                                            B      undercut, sold at a cheaper price
23     purse                                           C      increase
24     splurged                                        D      reduced to half
25     boost                                           E      money owned by government, public money
26     woefully                                        F      cheap and shabby
27     levy                                            G      source, container
28     tacky                                           H      unhappily, sadly
29     halved                                          I      spent
30     undersold                                       J      money

21.….; 22…..; 23…..; 24…..; 25…..; 26…..; 27…..; 28…..; 29…..; 30…..

31     grants                                          A      holding, claiming
32     keen                                            B      very strange, informal
33     much-touted                                     C      group of persons working together on new ideas
34     think-tank                                      D      much-advertised
35     laid                                            E      conservative, traditional
36     dressy                                          F      not trendy, not attractive
37     way-out                                         G      Ready
28     rearguard                                       H      Put
29     arguing                                         I      contributions, fundings
40     uncool                                          J      Elegant

31.….; 32…..; 33…..; 34…..; 35…..; 36…..; 37…..; 38…..; 39…..; 40…..

SECTION B TASK: To understand what is implied in the text. Read the text again and then decide if the
statements below correspond to what is being said or implied. Then put TRUE or FALSE in the column

1. When spring arrives, Londoners complain about being impossible to have a seat in the
underground because of an incredible number of tourists.
2. Britain is the fifth most popular tourist destination and the number of incoming tourists is
growing steadily.
3. Serious economic implications concern tourism as the world’s largest industry.
4. In 1999, 125,000 British businesses were engaged in tourism and employed 1.75m people.
5. A strong pound and recession in Asia are the main causes of the current troubles of the British
tourism industry.
6. A failing car industry causes more worries than an ailing tourist industry because tourism is often
subordinated in favour of other matters.
7. Although a parliamentary report on tourist industry in 1997 suggested that the government’s
funding should treble, that recommendation was ignored.
8. Tourism should not be promoted by the state.
9. Tourism is an industry that needs help in marketing, research and strategy.
10. Tourism is an industry that generates a lot of foreign currency and is labour-intensive.

  Task C: Check your understanding of the passage by fixing the answers to the following
  1. Are Londoners happy when there are many tourists around?
  2. Is tourism in Britain thriving?
  3. What is the worry about tourism in Britain?
  4. What the position of British government?
  5. Why should tourism be promoted by the state?
  6. What the Millennium Dome in London
  7. What about the paper “Tomorrow’s Tourism”?
  8. Tell about gaps in the government’s tourism strategy.
  9. Are there worries about domestic tourism? Tell about this issue.
  10. Compare the government spending on tourism in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
  11. What does the Head of the Northern Development point out about Northumbrian
  12. Comment on the question “how should Britain be sold?”
  13. What do you know about “Cool Britannia”?

   Cool Britannia is a media term that was used during the mid-to-late 20th century to describe the
contemporary culture of the United Kingdom. The term was prevalent during the 1990s, and was
closely associated with the early years of "New Labour" under Tony Blair.[1] It is a pun on the title
of the British patriotic song Rule, Britannia!.
   Origins of the term
      The phrase "Cool Britannia" was first used in 1967 as a song title by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah
   Band. The phrase "Cool Britannia" reappeared in the mid-1990s as a registered trade mark for
   one of Ben & Jerry's ice-creams (vanilla with strawberries and chocolate-covered shortbread).
   The ice cream name and recipe was coined in early 1996 by an American lawyer living in
   London, Sarah Moynihan-Williams, as a winning entry in a Ben and Jerry's ice cream
   competition. Her name for the ice cream as "Cool Britannia" was meant to presage the era of

     New Labour, which came about with their election win in May 1997. The phrase was quickly
     adopted in the media and in advertising, seeming to capture the "It" quality of London at the time.
     The election of Blair's government in 1997 on a platform of modernisation and with Blair as a
     relatively young Prime Minister gave the idea fresh currency. There is a strong parallel between
     this and the catch-phrase "Swinging London" (catchall term applied to dynamic cultural trends in
     the United Kingdom, centred in London), in the second half of the 1960s. during the early years
     of Harold Wilson's Labour government.

    The Millennium Dome, often referred to simply as The Dome, is the original name of a large
dome-shaped building, originally used to house the Millennium Experience, a major exhibition
celebrating the beginning of the third millennium. Located on the Greenwich Peninsula in South
East London, England, the exhibition opened to the public on 1 January 2000 and ran until 31
December 2000. The project and exhibition was the subject of considerable political controversy as
it failed to attract the number of visitors anticipated, leading to recurring financial problems.
    While all of the original exhibition and associated complex has since been demolished, the
canopy or shell of the dome still exists, and it is now a key exterior feature of the The O2
entertainment district.

    The O2, typeset in branding as The O2, is a large entertainment district including an indoor
arena, a music club, a cinema, an exhibition space, piazzas and bars and restaurants, built within a
large dome-shaped building (formerly the Millennium Dome), on the Greenwich peninsula in South
East London, UK.
    It is often incorrectly referred to by various names: the O2 Dome; the O2 Centre, which is
actually a shopping centre in Finchley Road; or the O2 Arena, which (as a proper noun: "The O2
arena") properly refers to the arena in O2. The name of the Entertainment District officially became
The O2 when O2 plc (now Telefónica Europe plc) purchased the naming rights from the
developers, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), during the development of the entertainment
    The dome-shaped building, also referred to as the Dome's canopy, was originally constructed as
the Millennium Dome, often simply known as the Dome, and housed the Millennium Experience, a
major exhibition celebrating the turn of the third millennium. After the closure of the exhibition on
31 December 2000, the interior of the building was demolished, leaving only the shell of the Dome.
Although AEG has transformed the interior of the Dome's shell and have renamed it The O2, many
still refer to it as the Dome.
    Since the closure of the original exhibition celebrating the millennium, several possible ways of
reusing the Dome's shell were proposed and then rejected. The official renaming of the Dome on
May 31 2008 gave publicity to its transition into an Entertainment District including an indoor
arena, a music club, a cinema, an exhibition space, and bars and restaurants. The interior of the
Dome's shell was completely cleared prior to the development and construction of the new
facilities. The Dome's shell itself remained in situ but its interior and the area around North
Greenwich Station, the QE2 pier and the main entrance area was completely redeveloped. In this
role the plan is to host the 2009 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and the artistic
gymnastics and basketball events of the 2012 Summer Olympics,[1] as well as two National Hockey
League games and a National Basketball Association game in 2007. The ATP World Tour Finals, is
intended to be held in The O2 arena from 2009 to 2012. In 2008, Red Bull Air Race World Series
came to the Greenwich Peninsula, although the actual event was over the River Thames, and stands
were made on the bank, you had to book via the O2. The area is served by North Greenwich tube
station, which was opened just before the millennium exhibition, on the Jubilee Line, and by bus

   Thames Clipper operate a river boat service for London River Services; the present dome
tenants, AEG, purchased Thames Clipper in order to provide river links between Central London
and The O2. As well as a commuter service, Thames Clipper also operate a new O2 Express


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