Whith friends like these, who needs enemies? might well be the justified reaction of the British hotel industry after hearing the remarks of the government's tourism minister, Dr Kim Howells, who last week described the traditional British seaside hotel as absolutely appalling. In present circumstances, with the tourist industry reeling from the twin blows of foot-and-mouth disease and terrorism, Dr Howells might be expected to be rather more supportive - or, at least, not so downright destructive. His experience of seaside hotels is apparently derived from his frequent attendance at Labour Party conferences at Bournemouth, Blackpool and Brighton. He thinks that the tourism industry has thrown in the towel to the Floridas, to the Spains, when it comes to properly packaging good, high-quality products.
But Blackpool hit back. The owner of five hotels there said: He doesn't know what he's talking about. Blackpool is much better than Spain apart from the weather. Our food is much better. You get good value, good rooms, civil service and everybody is friendly. The hotel industry and British tourism in general might well ask what the government is doing to get the overseas tourists coming back to Britain. Remarks such as those made by Dr Howells tend to get replayed quite widely in today's global village and are really not helpful - even if they contain a grain of truth.