Government hails ‘fundamental importance’ of tourism sector

The government is “committed to further growing” the tourism industry, and spreading the benefits of its growth across the country.

The commitment came in its response to the Culture, Media and Sport select committee’s report on tourism.

It also said it “recognises the fundamental importance of the tourism sector in delivering jobs and growth in all parts of the UK” and reiterated the Prime Minister’s five-point plan, which will establish a ministerial group to co-ordinate action across government.

Sally Balcombe (pictured with James Berresford of VisitEngland), VisitBritain chief executive, said: “The government’s new five-point plan shows that it has taken key recommendations from the select committee report on board.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to maintaining support for tourism and continuing GREAT campaign funding, which will help continued growth of an industry essential to Britain’s wider success as a modern global economy.

“VisitBritain is working with the national boards and the wider tourism industry to encourage visitors to explore outside of London, so to see a focus on developing transport within the new plan is very encouraging.”

James Berresford, VisitEngland chief executive, also welcomed the response, adding: “[It] recognises that with sufficient resource VisitEngland can do much to support the regional growth of tourism.

“We look forward to confirmation through the Comprehensive Spending Review of the proposed Product Development Fund recommended in the Triennial Review of VisitEngland, which is essential for us to continue supporting the growth of tourism in the regions, and the development of world class product and experiences in England.”

The government also praised the work done by the National Coastal Tourism Academy, adding: “This government will continue to work on a national scale to help coastal towns and communities to thrive.”

Jason Freezer, NCTA interim director, commented: “We’re extremely pleased that the challenges facing coastal resorts have been highlighted in this response.

“Coastal tourism is a crucial facet of domestic tourism, worth more than £7 billion and offering significant untapped potential.

“From our very outset two years ago we have worked with the coastal tourism industry to unearth the significant new opportunities as well as the barriers for economic growth on the coast using Bournemouth as a test-bed.

“With additional funding we could continue to address some of the major blocks to tourism growth, skills shortages and job creation on a bigger scale.”

Brigid Simmonds, British Beer & Pub Association chief executive, said: “I welcome this response, which very much builds on the government’s five-point tourism plan announced last week.

“It is good to see the continued support for the GREAT campaign.

“Support for more Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) is also a positive step, to draw on best practice demonstrated in areas such as Cumbria to support the tourism industry.

“Sharing application centres for visas should help to encourage more Chinese visitors to the UK, and the Government also reiterates a manifesto commitment to simplify and speed up visas for tourists.

“There is certainly scope for further action, such as more deregulation and a closer look at how the VAT system and business rates hold back expansion of the industry, but overall it is a very positive response.”