Thursday, August 04, 2005

I know it became fashionable amongst some a few years ago to criticise the tourism business for filling the Bay with visitors and holiday makers and providing 'low paid' jobs.

The Bay Authorities have flirted for fifteen years with other forms of industry in a misguided attempt to 'diversify' the local economy to make us less dependant on the hotel and catering trade; meaning that we have missed opportunities to make the best of our main asset, our location for tourism.

We have wasted too much time and money attracting short-term industrial jobs only to watch them exported to India and China; in the meantime we have failed to come up with a meaningful 'corporate plan' for our tourism businesses to work to.

Consider the efforts gone to to protect 6,000 jobs in Longbridge and the work done to try and maintain the Nortel/STC site in Paignton.

Then imagine if there was a single employer in Torbay who employed 20,000 in the Bay, imagine how much time and care the authorities would have spent ensuring that the company had everything it needed, new roads? - No problem; regional grants? - consider it done; a government minister to fuss around whenever things look a bit shaky? No worries.

Yet tourism and leisure easily accounts for that number of employees in our borough, it dominates our economy - it's the main reason Torbay exists at all! - Yet our council scrimps on support, cuts spending on advertising, annoys our 'customers' with stupid and unfair parking restrictions, rips them off with excessive car parking charges, withdraws much needed facilities like public toilets, leaves the place covered in litter and seaweed, and generally treats it's customers as if they were about as welcome as a flock of seagulls.

We have experimented with a diversified economy in the bay for long enough to prove that it is a road to economic oblivion.

Like it or not, Torbay needs tourism and depends on visitors, incomers and tourists for its prosperity.

We should all be proud that so many people want to come to our town.

Torbay council should be making sure that we have a town to be proud of.

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