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First Base is the equivalent of an 'Editorial'. It is the opportunity for S & A to provide comment and provoke discussion on topical issues relating to leisure and tourism. This will be provided each month and we would welcome your feedback on the matters raised.

First Base 5: Attractions fight back

Date: 20/5/2004

The clear distortion that now exists in the marketplace as a result of the Lottery funded and heavily subsidised attractions has stimulated considerable debate ... some of that debate conducted on these pages (see Archive). At the recent 'Euroshow and Amusement Trades Exhibition at Olympia, the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers, and Attractions (BALPPA) organised a debate entitled, "Should the Government be in the business of running and funding tourism and tourist attractions?"

The clear distortion that now exists in the marketplace as a result of the Lottery funded and heavily subsidised attractions has stimulated considerable debate ... some of that debate conducted on these pages (see Archive). At the recent 'Euroshow and Amusement Trades Exhibition at Olympia, the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers, and Attractions (BALPPA) organised a debate entitled, "Should the Government be in the business of running and funding tourism and tourist attractions?"

Gordon Marsden MP and Chair of the British Resorts Association demonstrated a rather uncharitable view that the ills of the private sector had little to do with the Lottery projects ... particularly uncharitable given his position within the industry.

It was left to Nick Varney, MD of Merlin Entertainments, to fight the corner for the private sector with Peter Ainsworth (Shadow Culture Secretary) providing his support. NickÕs call for a tax break for the private sector is novel only in the context of its proposed application to ticketing at attractions. Tax breaks have been a fundamental tool of tourism development in several European countries in recent years.

Europe's most successful tourism economy over the past decade has been Ireland. Surely it is no co-incidence that this has been a country that has exploited the opportunities for tax breaks to encourage private sector enterprise in the industry. Here is an opportunity, perhaps, for the newly devolved governments in Scotland and Wales to do something different?

In England, perhaps the Government should look towards this potential rather than continuing along the misguided social welfare route of allowing free access to the already heavily subsidised public museums. For over thirty years the market for tourism products has clearly shown us that if the product meets the needs, interests and demands of the consumer they will purchase at the price asked.

If you want evidence of this examine the spend per head and the socio-economic profile of those who play bingo, those who visit Disney from the UK and those who regularly gamble.

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  • First Base 5: Attractions fight back
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