Seeking to make up for lost time, prime minister Theresa May has today launched what the government is describing as the first ever tourism sector deal for the UK.
As she prepares to leave office, May said the deal is designed to ensure the country maintains its position as a key player in the global industry.
It will revolutionise the way data is used by the sector, through the creation of new tourism data hub, revealed a statement.
The hub will collate regularly updated data showing the latest trends and spends, allowing businesses to better target overseas visitors.
The deal will also support the creation of an additional 10,000 apprenticeships for people building their careers in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
May said: “As one of the most visited countries in the world, the UK is a world leader in international tourism, and it is crucial that we remain globally competitive to meet growing demands.
“That’s why today I am pleased to announce the UK’s first ever tourism sector deal, ensuring that we continue to innovate, boost connectivity and economic productivity, expand career pathways and breakdown barriers for visitors with disabilities.
“This deal recognises the important role tourism plays, and will continue to play, in showcasing what our great country has to offer.”
Last year around 38 million people visited the UK, contributing £23 billion to the local economy.
By 2025 experts predict that there will be an additional nine million visitors to the UK.
The new deal commits to building an additional 130,000 hotel rooms to respond to the increased demand for infrastructure.
The deal also outlines the government’s ambitions for the UK to become the most accessible destination for disabled visitors, through improvement of disabled facilities and access to destinations across the country.
Other commitments in the tourism sector deal include:
- More than 130,000 new hotel rooms are set to be built across the UK, with 75 per cent being built outside of London.
- Some £250,000 to improve broadband connectivity in conferences centres across the UK for business visitors.
- A pilot of up to five new tourism zones to drive visitor numbers across the country. Zones will receive government support for growing their local visitor economy, through initiatives like targeted support for product and promotion development, mentoring support to businesses and digital skills training.
- Up to 10,000 employees in the sector to benefit from new mentorship schemes.
- A new government strategy to grow the number of business events and conferences, helping to drive off-season visitors.
Developed in partnership with the British Tourist Authority and Industry, the sector deal forms part of the UK government’s modern industrial strategy supporting the continued growth of the tourism sector, ensuring the UK remains globally competitive as a top tourist destination.
Culture secretary Jeremy Wright said: “Today we have set out our vision for the future of UK tourism - a commitment to an industry that is vital for the prosperity of our communities, our businesses and our economy.
“The UK is one of the world’s greatest destinations and this deal recognises the importance of maximising our natural assets.
“We are dedicated to supporting life-long careers for those that work in tourism, offering insightful data to help grow businesses and ultimately creating a better visitor experience throughout the UK.”
UKinbound warmly welcomed the announcement.
UKinbound chair, James Aitken, said: “We are really pleased that a sector deal has been secured with the government and congratulate all those involved who have helped to drive this work forward.
“Tourism is a major contributor to the UK economy but is made up primarily of small businesses and cuts across many different policy areas.
“For the first time, we will have a national strategy that will help bring the sector together and collaborate on activities and initiatives.
“This will ultimately help visitors get to destinations quickly and easily, have a better experience in those destinations, improve productivity and efficiency and raise awareness about the fantastic employment opportunities the industry provides.”
For more on the tourism sector deal head over to the official website.