Long-term plan 'needed for tourism'

Leaders from the travel and tourism market have met in London to discuss the infrastructure improvements needed to guarantee the sustainability of the sector in the UK.

According to research from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Britain's travel market is expected to generate over £190 billion in 2007 and grow by 3.3 per cent a year between 2008 and 2017.

As the sector expands, however, infrastructure must be improved to cope with the increasing number of travellers coming into the country, market leaders said.

Alan Parker, chief executive of hospitality company Whitbread, said: "If infrastructure does not keep pace with growth, then business and tourism could drift away from the UK to other markets on the continent."

Geoffrey Kent, chairman of the WTTC, added: "The government must put in place a long-term infrastructure plan with at least a 15-year horizon."

One of the biggest contributors to UK tourism in the coming years will be the 2012 Olympic Games, which Mr Kent said could provide the "platform, focus and budget" for the government's infrastructure plans.

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