Promoting inbound tourism will help boost inward investment and business, according to a report by VisitBritain.

VisitBritain argued that inbound tourism promotion should be included in the government’s ‘soft power’ strategy – especially in the wake of Brexit.

Positioning the UK as an outward-looking country which is open for business would also “counter perceptions that leaving the EU would result in Britain isolating itself internationally”.

Sally Balcombe (pictured), VisitBritain chief executive, said: “Tourism is one lever which can be used effectively and swiftly to help deliver ‘Global Britain’s’ aim of promoting Britain as an open, inclusive and outward facing free-trading global power.

“Those who come and experience Britain at first hand are not only more likely to tell their friends and relatives to do the same, but they are more likely to want to invest and do business here in the future.

“Britain’s soft power has never been more important, and as this strategy develops, I am clear that tourism is an important and ongoing element to help drive success.”

Called ‘VisitBritain’s response to the proposed Soft Power strategy’, the report made eight recommendations, including better visa services to encourage overseas visitors, and ensuring that European Union citizens can travel to the UK without visas after Brexit.

It also recommended VisitBritain is included in cross-government bodies involved in decision-making that is relevant to tourism, and said that connectivity and tourism should form a key part of UK trade policy.

Furthermore, it called for a sector deal for tourism as part of the government’s industrial strategy.

The British Tourist Authority – which runs VisitBritain and VisitEngland – confirmed last week that a sector deal for tourism has entered an official negotiation with the UK government.

The report said: “Tourism is an important component of soft power.

“This is particularly true for a country such as Britain, where cultural attractions remain the top reason to visit Britain.

“Connecting overseas audiences with our culture digitally will never match the depth of engagement that can take place when people visit this country and experience the creative buzz of the Edinburgh International Festival, the majestic coastline of Wales, or explore the life of the Bard in Shakespeare’s England, for themselves.”