Wiltshire's tourist economy could be severely impacted by the county authority's decision to axe funding to a marketing body.

That is the claim from a town council which is fearing the loss of income from the sector.

Wiltshire Council has axed funds to Visit Wiltshire, which has been the official promoter of the county as a place to visit.

But Trowbridge Town Council claims the county is likely to lose additional funding from Visit England because of Wiltshire Council’s decision.

The South West Tourism Research Company says Wiltshire's tourism economy brings in £1.5 billion a year, employs 29,000 people and is nine per cent of Wiltshire’s GVA. 

A Visit Wiltshire spokesperson said: “The timing of Wiltshire Council announcing that they are withdrawing all strategic and funding support for growing the county’s visitor economy couldn’t come at a worse time for the county’s tourism and hospitality sector.   

“According to VisitEngland, Wiltshire Council is the only area in England that has said they will not support the Government’s new national tourism structure, or a Wiltshire Local Visitor Economy Partnership, with the result that Wiltshire as a destination will be excluded from VisitEngland’s domestic, and VisitBritrain’s international, marketing campaigns; business support activity, events, promotional activity and grant funding opportunities.

“Latest official figures indicate that Wiltshire and Wiltshire towns will lose up to £50 million per annum in tourism spend as a result of the council withdrawing its support. Any Wiltshire business concerned about the impact should contact davidandrews@visitwiltshire.co.uk

Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council, confirmed they had taken the 'difficult decision' to not renew the contract to support Visit Wiltshire, which ends in March 2024.

“Looking ahead, we will be reviewing how Wiltshire is marketed as a destination for tourists and visitors in response to changes in the economic landscape and government policy," he said.

"We are in conversations with both VisitBritain and VisitEngland on our future plans as we look to provide consistency to both businesses and visitors alike and continue to promote Wiltshire as a fantastic destination. 

“Our approach to tourism in Wiltshire needs to be aligned to our work around the Towns Programme, the Explore Wiltshire App and the What’s On in Wiltshire App.

"We are also talking to other neighbouring counties about whether we can potentially deliver a wider tourism offer.”

Trowbridge Town Council has voted to write to Wiltshire Council expressing its regret that it is not pursuing the option of partnering in the establishment of a Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP) in the short term with Visit Wiltshire.