Visit Kent’s chief executive has written to tourism minister John Penrose to stress the importance of local council initiatives to promote sustainable tourism. In the letter, Sandra Matthews-Marsh had welcomed the government’s tourism policy but said the budget cuts would make it difficult for destination management organisations to bring businesses together and promote their destination. “Local authorities have a key role to play in pump priming and underpinning the process of bringing various interests together. They help create a platform on which destination businesses can stand together, collaborate and interact in the task of delivering a rounded project to visitors,” she explained. Matthews-Marsh also called for a cut in tourism taxes. “The UK is only one of three of the 27 European member states, which does not apply a reduced-rate of VAT to tourism services. A cut in VAT for our sector would make us far more competitive and could see UK tourism earnings increase by some seven per cent,” she said. Visit Kent also backed calls for historic properties to gain more funding and for hotel building allowances to return.