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ABTA the "anti-British tourism alliance"
The head of a leading British holiday parks group, Tony Clish, has dubbed ABTA the "anti-British tourism alliance" after it attacked a new government-funded campaign to promote UK tourism.
Mr Clish, a director of Park Holidays UK, said that the criticism by the travel agents association was "a cheap shot from a body which can't understand why people now prefer Torquay to Turkey".
ABTA was widely reported as rubbishing the £4m advertising campaign by VisitEngland when it was announced recently (08 March 2012*), describing it as "a misguided use of public funds".
Mr Clish said the trade association's comments were hardly surprising, coming as they did from a body whose members' interests were served by encouraging people to holiday abroad.
"We are at the start of a year when the international spotlight will be falling on Britain, and it's perfectly proper for the tourist board to highlight the UK's fantastic tourism product," he said.
"Our tourism industry generates over a hundred billion pounds of spending each year, supporting over two-and-a-half million people in tourism-related jobs.
"What's wrong in spending a tiny fraction of that income in order to generate even more visitors during a year when we will celebrate both the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee?" asked Mr Clish.
He suggests that the steady rise in UK tourism in recent years, and the sharp fall in the number of people taking overseas holidays, might be fuelling ABTA's criticism.
Park Holidays UK he said, with its 25 holiday parks in South and West England, was not alone in recording yet another increase in holiday bookings at the start of 2012.
"Clearly ABTA is feeling the pressure, but people can't be blamed for re-discovering Britain as a wonderful, stress-free holiday destination," said Mr Clish.
" Holiday Britain is really taking off this year, and there's a great tide of patriotism sweeping the country which is helping to swell the number of visitors coming to Britain from overseas.
"The government is making a very shrewd move in launching this advertising campaign, for the cost is just a fraction of what is likely to be recouped by keeping the leisure pound in this country.
"So let's allow families to make their own decision about where to go - and if they choose Ramsgate over Rhodes, then I'd say they are supporting the right economy!" he added.
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