Thomas Cook head knocks Government's 'stay at home' campaign

Thomas Cook chief Ian Ailles has knocked the Government's focus on promoting domestic tourism, stating that it is "fundamentally wrong" to market holidays within the UK and not to equally support outbound holidays.

VisitEngland: tourist body's recent campaign starred Stephen Fry
VisitEngland: tourist body's recent campaign starred Stephen Fry

Speaking at the ABTA Travel Matters conference today (10 May), Ailles, chief executive, mainstream, Thomas Cook UK and Ireland, claimed that recent research conducted by the tour operator found that taking "UK holidays are no cheaper than going abroad".

Referring to VisitEngland's recent 'Holidays at home are great' campaign, of which Thomas Cook was a partner, Ailles said the operator, "supported the campaign because it made sense for us commercially", but that the Government should be supporting tourism "across the spectrum".

He added: "The Thomas Cook 'Wonderful World' campaign should have run alongside the VisitEngland campaign."

Ailles called on the Government to recognise the economic benefits that overseas holidays bring to the UK economy, saying that Thomas Cook employed more than 19,000 people in the UK. He claimed that 60% of holiday makers would spend £200 at home before embarking on an overseas trip, according to recent ABTA research.

Criticising the Government's rises in Air Passenger Duty (APD), Ailles accused chancellor George Osborne of having employed a "stealth tax", stating that the Treasury will have collected £3.9bn from APD by 2016.

He said: "The Government needs to assess the damage APD does to the UK economy."

Follow Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith on Twitter @LoullaMae_ES


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