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Issue Date:- 11 February 2008


AS Britain heads into another holiday season, businesses, accommodation providers and attractions, Tourist Information Centres, regions and destinations, are being urged to encourage their local MP to gain a 1st-hand understanding of tourism and the issues they face.

The 2nd annual British Tourism Week takes place from 10 to 18 March this year and the Constituency Day – when MPs are encouraged to go back to the floor in tourism businesses – takes place on Friday 14 March.

Tom Wright, chief executive of VisitBritain and co-chairman of British Tourism Week’s multi-sector steering committee, says:- “I hope that MPs will take this chance to lead the way in demonstrating their commitment to Britain’s fifth largest industry and visit a tourism business in their area during British Tourism Week.  Their help will highlight the appeals of heritage sites and historic buildings, of exploring our countryside and cinematic landscapes or taking a break in contemporary cities.”

Last year many MPs, including Nadine Dorries, Michael Howard, Simon Hughes, Theresa May, Dawn Primarolo and Andrew Smith, visited their local tourist information centres, holiday parks and centres, farms, accommodation providers and attractions.  MPs are also being asked to show their support ahead of the Week by signing a pledge card at the House of Commons on Wednesday 5 March. They also have the opportunity to enjoy a Blue Badge guided coach tour of attractions around their London ‘office’ on Thursday 13 March 2008.

Stephen Dowd, co-chairman of British Tourism Week and chief executive of UKinbound, adds:- “We urge businesses to write, email or call their local MP and persuade them to take some time to show their support for tourism in the area and the people who depend on the industry for jobs and livelihoods.”

With His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales as patron, British Tourism Week aims to galvanise organisations and individuals to take pride in being part of the nation’s 5th biggest industry. Events aim to raise the profile of an £85 billion visitor economy and draw national awareness to its critical importance and the contribution it makes to local economies and millions of livelihoods.  Already more than 60 different events are listed on the website, but organisers hope that every region and destination will organise something to help businesses or raise awareness of tourism experiences among consumers.

Visit  and enter your postcode to find your local MP. 

You can also visit  for more information on the week of events being organised around the country.

Coastguards Begin Voting On Strike Action

ON 5 February 2008, Public & Commercial Services Union members with in Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) began being balloted for strike action in a dispute over pay. If a strike is called by MCA staff, it would be an unprecedented move as it would be the first time in the organisation's history. The move comes in response to pay levels that fall way behind those paid to other emergency services and below inflation cost of living increases.

One officer who does not want to be named told us that:- "It comes as a shock to think that in the MCA, a Coastguard Watch Assistant, only earns the national minimum wage!   A Coastguard Watch Assistant actively participate in search planning and other duties, in response to 999 calls, so they are highly trained people and the pay they get should reflect this.

We have also been expected to stomach a pay cut, with our pay rises averaging just 2.5% for many and the most experienced staff receiving pay increases of less than 1%.

I do not think people and the government in the UK realise just how vitally important our roll is and what we do."

The strike ballot closes on 27 February 2008 with the result being announced shortly after.

Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary told the media that:- "Members are angry at the continued refusal to implement findings of pay comparison exercises carried out at the end of last year that support the union's claim for comparability with other 999 services. It is an absolute disgrace that you have coastguard watch assistants receiving a pay rise in October last year (2007) merely to comply with the increase in the national minimum wage.  Added to this is the insult of below inflation pay which is leading to a pay cut in real terms for dedicated staff who deliver a vital emergency service and save lives.

Our members within the MCA take on both administrative and operational duties in respect of emergency and 999 distress calls, like anti-pollution measures and ship registration. Operating out of 19 rescue co-ordination centres they control search and rescue operations and task Lifeboats, helicopters and other rescue teams.   Some of our PCS members also have to look after the River Thames and other inland waterways through out the UK.   This is a vast area that they cover.

Together our members have save thousends of lives every year, so it is shocking to see them treated this way. The government and the MCA can avoid the inevitable disruption that strike action will bring by acting now and recognising that coastguards deserve fair pay at comparable levels to other emergency services."

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