Culture secretary Maria Miller has outlined a strategy to increase tourism spending in Britain.
In a speech to the tourism sector, Miller said the aim was to welcome 40 million overseas visitors each year, spending £31.5 billion, by 2020.
The strategy, produced by national tourism agency VisitBritain, aims to unite the government and the travel industry with key public and private sector bodies in having the same ambition for growth by supporting an extra 200,000 jobs across the country.
Last year, Britain welcomed a record 31 million international tourists who spent £18.6 billion and if successful the new proposals would see a 29% growth in visits.
The aim is to ensure the new strategy can build on Britain’s improved international image, increase engagement with the travel trade and broaden the product range on offer for inbound tourists.
It is also hoped the plans will make it easier for tourists to get around the country.
Miller said: “Tourism is central to the government’s economic growth strategy. It’s worth £115 billion to our economy a year and we need to ensure we retain a competitive edge and can compete with other destinations around the world.
“With VisitBritain’s GREAT campaign we are selling the best of Britain, building on strengths to boost tourism income right across the country.”
To kickstart the strategy, VisitBritain has announced a £2 million, two-year partnership with Emirates to promote Britain overseas.
Chairman of VisitBritain, Christopher Rodrigues, added: “There are few British industries as strong as travel and tourism, and few have such growth potential.
“The success of our travel industry not only helps the economy, but is key to Britain’s image and its trading power around the world. There is no better time for us to capitalise on the increased interest there is in coming here and deliver a golden legacy for Britain.”
The plans were welcomed by Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer.
He said: “We welcome VisitBritain’s new tourism growth strategy with the objective of boosting the number of overseas tourists visiting the UK to 40 million by 2020.
“This is an ambitious target but one we welcome. VisitBritain is right to highlight the UK’s visa regime and aviation capacity constraints as barriers to achieving this target.
“Abta supports inbound, outbound and domestic tourism and if we are to achieve tourism’s full potential the Government urgently needs to address these issues to ensure that as we invite people to come and visit we don’t deter them by making it difficult to get here.”
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