The first ever tourism sector deal announced on Friday by outgoing prime minister Theresa May has been heralded as a “game-changer” for the sector.
A new Tourism Data Hub will be created to revolutionise the way data is used as part of the breakthrough.
The hub will collate regularly updated data showing the latest trends and spends, allowing businesses to better target overseas visitors.
The new deal will also support the creation of an additional 10,000 apprenticeships for people building their careers in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
It also carries a commitment to building an additional 130,000 hotel rooms to respond to the increased demand for infrastructure.
The scheme outlines the government’s ambitions for the UK to become the most accessible destination for disabled visitors, by improving facilities and access to destinations across the country.
Around 38 million people visited the UK last year, contributing £23 billion to the local economy, with numbers forecast to rise by an additional nine million by 2025.
Developed in partnership with the British Tourist Authority and the industry, the sector deal forms part of government’s Modern Industrial Strategy supporting growth of the tourism sector
Other commitments in the deal include:
• More than 130,000 new hotel rooms set to be built across the UK, with 75% outside London. A sum of £250,000 to improve broadband connectivity in UK conference centres for business visitors
• 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
• 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
BTA chair Steve Ridgway said: “This sector deal is a game-changer for tourism, one of the UK’s most valuable export industries, spelling a step-change in how we underpin the success of tourism for a generation, moving it to the top table as a leading industry for the UK Government’s future economic planning.
“And it is a game-changer for the economy, growing the value of the industry and employment in tourism, fixing issues from skills and productivity to extending the season year-round, building stronger tourism destinations up and down the country and developing world-class experiences for domestic and international visitors.
“Tourism is one of the most fiercely competitive global industries and this deal ensures we can continue to compete internationally as a top destination for visitors, driving major economic growth across the whole of the UK.”
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 break down 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.”
Culture secretary Jeremy Wright added: “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.”
Business secretary Greg Clark said: “Tourism is one of our most valuable industries and it plays a vital role in our economy, with nearly two million people employed in the communities across the country and £23 billion spent by visitors in the UK last year.
“As part of today’s ground-breaking deal, new tourism zones will deliver a direct boost to holiday destinations across the country, helping create new jobs as well as supporting improvements in transport connections.
This is one of the many ways in which the deal will be key in building a world-class experience economy, helping us deliver on the ambition we set out in our modern industrial strategy; Government and industry working hand-in-hand to build on our exceptional strengths in this sector, boosting productivity and further increasing the UK’s attractiveness as a holiday destination.”
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.”
Hilton executive vice president Simon Vincent, co-chair of the Tourism Industry Council, said: “The tourism sector deal is an important vote of confidence in the UK tourism industry, providing a long-term vision which reflects the skills and innovation in our sector and will help ensure we continue to thrive in a highly competitive global market.”
Jeremy Sanders, Head of UK at budget hotel chain OYO, said: “It’s fantastic to see the government recognising the tourism sector’s hugely important contribution to our national prosperity and supporting future growth.
“The UK hospitality sector is one of the most vibrant and exciting in the world – but it’s also one of the most sophisticated and challenging, especially for smaller, independent players.
“We need to make sure they can capitalise on the opportunities too – whether through investment, technology, knowledge sharing or inspiring the next generation of independent hoteliers.”
Interhome UK and Ireland commercial sales manager Danny Waine said: “The sector deal is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our industry to work together for the greater good; both for our tourism industry and for the future of people working in the sector.
“This has been a perfect example of how our industry can collaborate to make the government listen.
“Now we need to ride the wave, build momentum and raise awareness of the amazing career paths that young people can take in our industry, both in the inbound and outbound sector; as well as helping up-skill people across all regions of the UK.
“With investments in technology and the regional tourist zones, there is a real opportunity here for the whole country to benefit long in to the future.”
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