50 objects 18: Perceived effect of the Channel Tunnel on tourism

Amongst the opposition faced by supporters of the Channel Tunnel was the idea that the easier crossing would have a detrimental effect on tourism and related economies in Britain; that, for instance, families from the north of England would holiday in northern France rather than on the south coast of England and so the hotel trade would suffer.

In the late 1920s, a sub-committee of the Channel Tunnel Parliamentary Committee contacted businesses involved in UK tourism to ask for their views on the Tunnel, in particular whether it would help or hinder their business.

Letter showing summary of bodies in favour and against

Letter showing summary of bodies in favour and against

The Channel Tunnel archive holds three files of this correspondence, annotated in blue pencil by the committee, and divided into “in favour”, “against”, and “neutral”. While the majority of the letters are short and business-like, the collection as a whole reflects an intriguing range of attitudes to the Tunnel and to tourism.

The tone ranges from terse to discursive, from uninterested to fiercely invested, and some letters go beyond the tourism issue and investigate other aspects of the Tunnel.

One of the longest and most eloquent letters in the “against” section, pictured below, reasons that not only would the Tunnel be detrimental to the  hotel trade, but it would also lead to problems with foot and mouth disease, with a knock-on negative impact on farming; the shipping industry would also suffer, and “with our glorious traditions of the sea, it would not look well for Britons to enter the Continent by a rat-hole.”

Letter against the Channel Tunnel

Letter against the Channel Tunnel

Selections from letters on all sides of the question

Selections from letters on all sides of the question

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