Support for travel agents selling domestic holidays will continue, following the formal separation of VisitEngland and VisitBritain.
VisitEngland is to become a stand-alone body for English tourism and focus on supporting “competitive and engaging tourism experiences”.
The change is one of the main recommendations in the government’s Triennial Review of VisitEngland and VisitBritain.
James Berresford (pictured), VisitEngland’s chief executive, said: “This gives us the role we have always wanted. We will be leading strategic development across the industry to ensure England’s tourism offer is compelling.”
He pledged to continue the Holidays at Home are GREAT initiative, which again this year uses Aardman animated characters to encourage domestic holiday bookings via travel agents.
The England Expert training programme – which has already signed up 800 agents – will also continue.
“We are not backing away from recognising the value of the trade or travel agents in particular,” he said.
“VisitEngland will support excellent experiences and excellent products – more brilliant products means there will be more opportunities for the trade.”
VisitBritain and VisitEngland will both be charged with encouraging more overseas visitors to travel beyond London.
Tourism minister Helen Grant said: “The tourism sector is making a significant contribution to our long-term economic plan, with visits and spend from overseas tourists at a record high.
“VisitBritain will be set stretching targets by government to deliver more visitors across the regions helping to boost local economies and create jobs.”
VisitBritain will lead overseas marketing, in consultation with the national tourist boards, while VisitEngland will cease international marketing.
VisitEngland will manage a “challenge fund” for destinations from across England to bid for investment to develop tourism offers.
A VisitBritain statement said: “We are pleased that the report has recognised the importance of inbound tourism – Britain’s third biggest service export – and the need for ‘the full backing of Government including joined-up policy making’.
“While we have seen record visits (34.8 million +6%) and value (£21.7 billion +3%) again in 2014, international tourism is fiercely competitive and the UK is losing market share.”
Berresford commented: “We have not got poor products but in a massively competitive world, we need to help bring forward brilliant products.”
He concluded: “This review means we have had a clean bill of health.
“It says to any incoming government that these are trusted organisations, and to work with them to generate more growth in the UK and create jobs.”
The full triennial review report can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/triennial-review-of-visitbritain-and-visitengland
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