Thursday, August 12, 2010

Everyone welcome! (Once you've convinced Border Control)

From the BBC:
The UK must work to become one of the top five tourist destinations in the world, David Cameron has said.

The country was not "doing enough" to rise from its current sixth place, the prime minister added.

Speaking in London's Hyde Park, he urged people to be more "proud" of the UK and seize a "huge" opportunity to attract overseas visitors.

A report last month suggested tourism's contribution to the economy could grow by more than 60% to £188bn by 2020.

Mr Cameron said measures to help the industry would be speeding up the process of getting visitors' visas for the UK in India and China.

He said: "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 10. Why can't we?"
The strictness of the UK's border control is one reason; the fact that obtaining one visa, the Schengen will entitle you to visit not only Germany but most of the EU is another; and finally, the English Channel. We're not capable of changing our geographical position and hell will freeze over before any Conservative PM takes us into Schengen. So that leaves our own Border control but the government is giving conflicting signals on that one- it's an either/or I'm afraid.
In a criticism of the former Labour government, Mr Cameron said there had been too much emphasis on marketing "Cool Britannia", rather than on the UK's heritage.
"Cool Britannia" always struck me as too much of an Islington/Notting Hill (never mind London)-centric concept. It was designed to fit Blair's image of himself as the "modern guy down with the kids" rather than as a serious attempt to sell the UK as a whole to the world. Undoubtedly, London's sporadic periods of "trendiness" does pull in the odd person for whom such "trendiness" is important, but for every fashion victim looking to visit where the latest teen brat sensation drinks his cocktails, there must be ten more interested in a more rounded trip to the country.

And considering we don't have sun, decent wine, the Vatican, a Disneyland or a 40 million diaspora- I actually think 6th place is quite impressive:
The United Nations ranks the UK as the sixth-most visited destination in the world, behind France, the US, Spain, China and Italy.

6 comments:

Keith Ruffles said...

Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the French's book and ditch the monarchy pronto; it certainly doesn't seem to have dented their first-place position in the tourist stakes too much!

But it's interesting that Cameron mentions China and India - but not Pakistan! - when UK nationals often have quite a lengthy time procuring a visa for those countries themselves. Perhaps a mutually-beneficial reciprocal arrangement should be considered?

andrewg said...

"hell will freeze over before any Conservative PM takes us into Schengen"

Which is a shocking case of self-defeating populism. Schengen is a pretty strict regime, and joining it would hardly open the floodgates to millions of new immigrants. The House of Lords select committe on Europe recommended joining Schengen ten years ago.

Even if that were not possible, I'm sure the UK could accept Schengen visas for the purposes of facilitating tourism.

O'Neill said...

Keith,

"Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the French's book and ditch the monarchy pronto"

Royalty doesn't seem to be a driving force in the case of the US, Italy or China either. And give me a choice of a few days in Sevilla or going to do a royal sightseeing tour in Spain I think I would...

Re Pakistan, I guess population size and not to put it too bluntly, the lack of any meaningful middle-class who'd be interested in the UK purely for tourism reasons; differentiates them from India and China

O'Neill said...

Schengen is a pretty strict regime, and joining it would hardly open the floodgates to millions of new immigrants.

For non-EUers, I'd say it can be as hard to get into Schengen as it to the UK. The eastern and se borders are as iron-tight as any border can ever be. But that, as you know, is not the reason we aren't in Schengen.

Even if that were not possible, I'm sure the UK could accept Schengen visas for the purposes of facilitating tourism.

Curiously enough to work in the UK legally once you're in is in many respects easier than to get work in, for example, Germany. How that would impact in your scenario, I'm not sure but I can't see it ever been sold to the Disgruntled of Tunbridge Wells.

Toque said...

Mark Leonard was responsible for much of New Labour's contrived early Britishness. Check out his scribblings at http://www.demos.co.uk/files/britaintm.pdf

Blair lapped it up. To give Brown his dues, he wasn't so keen.

O'Neill said...

Toque,

Thanks for the pdf. I'd argue that even rown's "Britishness"/Unionism was of the self-serving contrived variety rather than conviction.