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The main political parties have been asked to spell out their plans for UK tourism ahead of Thursday’s general election.
Domestic operator holidaycottages.co.uk posed the question to gauge what level of support for the industry is likely to be forthcoming from the new government.
Support from the next government is essential to ensure that the ‘staycation’ boom and increase in foreign tourists continues and is sustainable, the company says.
Managing director, James Morris, said: “The UK domestic tourism industry is key to the economy of the UK, contributing over £127 billion to the country’s GDP each year.
“Tourism supports over three million jobs in the UK and it’s vital that all political parties recognise this with their policies, ensuring growth and sustainability in this rapidly growing industry.”
The operator spoke directly to party representatives on their stance on the UK tourism industry and the effects their policies will have.
Holidaycottages.co.uk asked the question “What is your stance on UK tourism and how do your policies support the industry?”
Commenting specifically on tourism in the southwest, the office of Geoffrey Cox, Conservative candidate in Torridge and West Devon, said that to help attract growth and support new and existing tourism businesses the Conservatives’ key pledge is to improve connections to the southwest with major investment in the M5, A358, A30 and A303, and the electrification of the Great Western Main Line – bringing new fast trains on the route.
The party’s manifesto makes a specific commitment to invest in these and other projects in order to boost tourism in the southwest.
Cox said: “Tourism is the lifeblood of our local economy and presents real opportunities to secure the growth, investment and jobs we need here in Devon.
“Under this government we have seen real progress when it comes to investment in our infrastructure, which is essential in order to attract visitors down to take advantage of the unique mix of outstanding coastline and countryside our area has to offer.”
“A Labour government will work with the tourism sector to create jobs and growth across the country,” a spokesman said.
“For a number of years the tourism industry has not received the recognition that it deserves, despite many communities across Britain being reliant on tourism for the local jobs and economic activity it sustains. Our rich and diverse cultural and sporting industries attract many tourists to the UK.
“Seaside towns too are a quintessential part of Britain’s tourist industry. Many of these towns and resorts have been neglected and suffer from high unemployment and deprivation. Labour will create an innovative development strategy for coastal economies and support tourism.”
“Tourism and heritage collectively make up as much as 9% of our economy, and yet, in our view, these industries do not have the status they deserve in government or in wider society,” a spokesman said.
“That’s why Liberal Democrats will work to make sure the British tourism industry is able to compete with other major world destinations and be a key generator of growth in the UK economy.”
The party promises to strengthen the Hospitality and Tourism Council, which will act as a voice for tourism in Government and will focus on areas where there are barriers to growth facing the sector.
It also wants to give a higher status to tourism within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and devolve more power, resources and decision-making to local areas to promote their unique tourism propositions in the UK and globally.
The spokesman went on to highlight the need for a better transport infrastructure, a modern railway system, and less road congestion.
UKIP dedicates a section of its manifesto to Heritage and Tourism, promising that it will “stand up for Britain’s beautiful and important heritage and our vital tourist industry”.
It pledged to create a new Minister of State for Heritage and Tourism, bring in zero rate VAT on repairs to historic churches and listed buildings and create rural conservation areas to protect our market towns and scenic countryside.
The party would introduce a “presumption in favour of conservation” into planning legislation and support the regeneration of coastal towns through ‘Seaside Town Status’ designation.
It pledges to support pubs by providing tax breaks for smaller breweries, amending the smoking ban, reversing plain packaging legislation for tobacco products and opposing calls for minimum pricing for alcohol.
The SNP would plan to use its influence at Westminster to deliver key economic advantages for Scotland, including a boost for Scotland’s tourism and hospitality sectors with plans for reduction in Air Passenger Duty to encourage more direct flights to Scotland.
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