PM urges tourism industry to grasp 'huge opportunity'

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The British tourist industry must grasp the "huge opportunity" that globalisation will present over the coming decades, Gordon Brown said today.

Speaking to a national tourism summit in Liverpool, the Prime Minister hailed the city's year as European Capital of Culture as an example to the country.

And he said that the UK stood to attract millions more people in the years ahead as world tourism flourished in line with the development of emerging economies such as China and India.

The summit, organised by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, was being held today to coincide with a Cabinet meeting in Liverpool this afternoon.

After a tour of the city's regenerated waterfront with Brookside and Hollyoaks creator Phil Redmond, Mr Brown told tourism executives gathered at the city's Arena and Convention Centre: "Liverpool shows what can be done for the future."

He went on that the world economy would double in the next two decades, creating massive opportunities for all British goods.

"People have huge chances in this new global economy to sell a product that can have a global branding and a global success story," he said.

"And people are going to want to travel more. There is no sign that that is going to end - in fact it is going to be stepped up remarkably over the next few years.

"And the tourism industry in Britain, with our great cultural heritage, with our historic monuments, our great ability to project culture that's based on the English language, with our sporting achievements and functions, with our willingness to be creative and innovative, we have this huge opportunity for the future.

"This is a great industry, millions of jobs depend on it and it creates a huge amount of wealth for our country and I believe it can be even greater in the future."

The Prime Minister said 4 million British jobs depended on tourism, which generated £115bn a year.

He added: "We are in difficult world times, I don't think anybody is in any doubt about that.

"We are seeing the birth of a new type of world economy and we have got to be the leaders of it."

His visit to Liverpool comes on the second day of a regional tour, which took him to Derby yesterday and continues through the West Midlands, South West and Wales tomorrow.