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The problem of attracting visitors and qualified personnel to the tourist industry

Further to your article by Ian Nash (TES, July 28) concerning the effect of skills shortages on the development of the tourism industry, I felt you may be interested in some real developments.

Whilst your article concentrates on perceived problems in the food industry, our own research has shown skills shortages in some areas of visitor attraction management as well.

I believe we are one of a few further education colleges which are also a major tourist attraction in our own right. Our gardens and estates attract nearly 100,000 visitors per year and therefore we feel well qualified to offer courses in support of visitor attraction management.

Currently our courses relate to the management of the physical resource, particularly parks, gardens and country estates, but we are increasingly dealing with wider management training for museums and theme parks.

As a result of our success, and with the full cooperation and support of our local TEC (North London TEC), English Tourist Board and the Government Office for London, we are creating a regional training facility called the National Visitor Attraction Management Training Centre at Capel Manor using finances from the Competitiveness Fund.

With the co-operation of West London TEC and East London TEC we have been able to create outcentres for this initiative throughout Greater London.

Our overall aim is to improve the reservoir of skilled labour available to the tourist industry, particularly in Greater London where many of the numerous tourist attractions away from the centre are still underdeveloped and poorly utilised.

The centre is due to open in February 1996 and will provide a focal point to help address many of the issues referred to in the CBI survey "Filling the Gaps - Skills for Tourism".

STEVEN DOWBIGGIN

Chief Executive Capel Manor Horticulture and Environmental Centre Bullsmoor Lane Enfield, Middlesex

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