Trade association UKinbound, VisitEngland and the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) have announced their support for the Five-Point Plan for tourism announced by the Prime Minister today (17 July) in Cornwall.
Speaking at a ministerial conference in St Austell, David Cameron outlined policies to develop tourism, including new investment in its promotion.
Specifically speaking about the events sector, Cameron said: “We will address a lack of join-up across Britain’s business visits and events sector. We will instigate a Board to identify those events that it is in Britain’s strategic interests to host, and we will then work in partnership across Government to back the biggest and best bids that the UK can work to host and which are affordable within fiscal constraints”.
UKinbound said the government’s new plan was set to reinforce the key recommendations of the organisation’s own #TourismABC campaign which was launched earlier this year.
The Five-Point Plan also includes a commitment to supporting careers in the hospitality sector, sustaining world-class infrastructure and improving the competitiveness of the UK’s visa system to make the UK more accessible.
UKinbound’s chief executive officer, Deirdre Wells OBE, said: “It is great to hear the strong support today from the Prime Minister for tourism – recognising its role as the UK’s third biggest service export and a major employer, particularly for young people. We welcome the commitment to improve the visa service for visitors and to deliver a world class transport network, both air and rail.
“Improving the service which our visitors receive from the ‘border to their bed’ – including visa processing and transport connectivity – is something for which we at UKinbound have long campaigned. We look forward to partnering with the Government to grow this important industry right across all parts of our beautiful country.”
VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford (pictured) also welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement. He said: “The commitment by the Prime Minister today to grow tourism across the UK is further recognition of the enormous value and contribution of this industry, one of the decade’s biggest drivers of economic growth.
“Placing tourism at the heart of government will do much to support plans to rebalance the economy. We will work closely with the new inter-ministerial group and our partners across the country to deliver on these commitments and drive growth across the regions by showcasing and developing the standout product on offer in this country to key domestic and international markets, improving connectivity, ensuring England remains globally competitive and providing world-class experiences for all visitors.”
Berresford said his agency aimed to build on recent success with both the Northern and South West Tourism Growth Funds, and the proposed Product Development Fund recommended in the Triennial Review of VisitEngland.
More activity should be activated by a £5m South West Tourism Growth Fund announced by government. This is expected to generate 1,000 jobs in the South West visitor economy.
In addition, VisitEngland is delivering a £10m Northern Tourism Growth Fund, working closely with VisitBritain and partner destinations from across the region to put the assets of the North firmly on the international map.
The programme aims to deliver an additional 2m visitor nights to the North of England equating to £177m in international visitor expenditure and create 3,280 jobs.
The umbrella body for the UK’s events sector, the BVEP, also added its welcomed to the PM’s initiative, particularly the reference to growing the number of events held in Britain.
Michael Hirst OBE, chair of the BVEP, said: “This is a major speech by the Prime Minister, which we very much welcome, and which clearly shows that government has listened to the events industry and is now committed to working in partnership with us as we work to grow this already significant £42bn sector further”.
The Prime Minister’s speech can be seen as part of a wider business visits and events strategy, which is currently being developed by the new Secretary of State at Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale and tourism minister, Tracey Crouch, having been announced last April by the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid.
This also covers existing events that require support to help them grow and be of even greater value to the economy.
The BVEP are currently working with the Secretary of State, Minister for Tourism and Officials at DCMS, BIS and UKTI to implement this strategy, designed to contribute significantly to increasing Britain’s overall visitor economy, trade and exports.
Words by Paul Colston.