Tourism value to UK 'could grow by 60% in 10 years'

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Media captionVisitBritain CEO Sandie Dawe: "The weak pound certainly helps in the short term"

Tourism's contribution to the UK economy could grow by more than 60% to £188bn by 2020, a report suggests.

The number of jobs directly and indirectly linked to tourism could rise by 264,000 to 2.89 million in that time, said the study for VisitBritain.

Domestic and overseas visitors put an estimated £115bn a year into the UK. Foreign visitors' spending could almost double from £16bn to £31bn by 2020.

Government help was needed on tourism market problems, the study added.

Professional services firm Deloitte and forecasting organisation Oxford Economics produced the report, which studies the effects on firms both directly and indirectly serving the tourist industry.

It predicts that favourable exchange rates and the prospect of the 2012 Olympics mean the tourism sector is likely to grow by 3.5% per annum between 2010 and 2020.

'Enormously encouraging'

VisitBritain said only the financial and business service sectors were likely to grow faster than tourism over the next few years.

But the report warned government intervention would be essential to success, by helping tackle a range of problems in the tourism market.

These included co-ordinating marketing to help small and medium-sized tourist businesses and helping rural firms with higher operating costs to adopt innovative technology.

It also called for support for areas across the UK which rely disproportionately on tourism as a source of jobs for low-skilled and part-time workers.

Image caption The tourism industry is urged to adapt to new trends, such as more older travellers

The report said the industry needed help to improve its ability to predict what facilities would be needed for tourists and ensure the modernisation of hotels took place in a manner sympathetic to their original style.

It also called on it to adapt more swiftly to new trends, such as the growth in older tourists.

The chairman of VisitBritain, Christopher Rodrigues, said the report was "enormously encouraging".

"The continuing low level of the pound and the approaching Olympics in 2012 give us a tremendous opportunity to promote Britain's attractiveness as a destination to the rest of the world," he said.

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