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Putting Britain firmly on the world tourist map

Submitted by on 23 Nov 2010 – 12:28

By John Penrose, Tourism and Heritage Minister

This Summer I’ve been visiting all corners of the country and, like the millions of people who choose to holiday in the UK, I’ve been experiencing the huge wealth and fantastic delights offered by our British tourism industry.

As an MP for a seaside constituency I already know the huge impact tourism has on both the local and national economy, but what my regional tour has shown me, whether it’s Bath, Cumbria, York or Newport, is that there are fantastic opportunities to be had if we all work together.

Both the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt and I have been keen to demonstrate our commitment to the tourism industry, a sector which has often been left as a poor relation in terms of government policy. We’re clear about the priorities and challenges ahead particularly with just two years to go until we host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We want to make sure there’s a lasting tourism legacy that benefits the whole country for years to come. With this in mind, we’re planning to create a new fund with the aim of generating £1 billion worth of PR and marketing activity. We’ll be working with private sector partners to help build up the fund and work out the most cost effective way to use it.

And just as I’ve been seeing first hand all the UK has to offer, we also want to give domestic tourism a massive boost by making sure more people in Britain spend some of their holiday budget at home. We’ve set the industry a new goal to increase the proportion that residents in the UK spend on domestic tourism to 50 per cent of their overall tourism spend. Over the past few months I’ve been hearing from those working at the heart of the industry on how they think we can best achieve this. All their thoughts and ideas are helping me as I work on a new tourism strategy which I hope to publish in the Autumn.

Of course all these new plans are set against an extremely tough economic backdrop. The most urgent issue facing the country is making sure we reduce the deficit. But I believe that tourism has the power to be a huge economic driver over the coming years with some fantastic opportunities ahead. It’s not just the Olympics that offer tourism an opportunity to showcase the best the UK has to offer, but also the Diamond Jubilee and other sporting events including this year’s Ryder Cup in Wales, and the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and Rugby Union World Cup in 2015.

What’s clear to me is that tourism thrives and achieves its potential when all the organisations and people involved come together. I’ll be making sure I have regular contact with all those across government on issues such as better regulation, transport and tax so that working in partnership we can secure the long term success of the UK’s fifth largest industry that makes a huge contribution to the country’s economy and is vital to our financial recovery.