The strategy, which aims to boost the revenue potential of the industry, has been launched to build on the marketing plan announced by the Government in January, which aims to generate four million extra overseas visitors in the next four years, who would bring an extra £2bn of spend to the UK.
It suggests moving the May Day Bank Holiday from 1 May to either 23 April (St George’s Day) or to coincide with the October half term in order to create a new “national day” for England.
It is thought the movement would not only extend the tourism season, which falls between May to September, but provide the nation with an opportunity to be patriotic and persuade people to holiday in Britain instead of abroad.
However the Government believes the economic and social disruption caused by moving the bank holiday would be significant, and will launch a consultation with the industry to find out whether it is a viable option to continue with.
Red tape & VAT
The Government has also outlined the erection of a specialist red tape task force, led by senior industry figures who will identify and cut, modify or abolish sector-specific rules, regulations, inspections and forms that are affecting the growth and prosperity of businesses.
However, despite numerous and prolonged calls from the industry to cut VAT, the Government has stated there is “little scope for tax cuts in any area”, and will instead continue to focus on reducing the country’s debt.
John Penrose, Minister for Tourism, said: “The UK tourism industry… generates £90bn for the economy every year, employing 1.36 million people and supporting more than 200,000 businesses, large and small. So it’s no surprise that the Government sees it as a key element in our plans to grow the economy and get Britain back on its feet.
“The Prime Minister asked me last year to prepare a report on the industry and to set out positive steps that we could take to promote growth. This strategy paper is the result - a simple blueprint of practical ideas that show what can be done when government departments and agencies work together towards a common goal.
“The next four years are set to be the most important and successful for this industry in more than a generation. The challenge is huge, but the rewards for us all could be greater still.”
Other elements outlined in the proposal include:
• Working closer with People 1st, the sector skills council, to improve the “behaviours, personality and skills” of industry staff through extra apprenticeships and courses in order to deliver a higher standard of welcome
• Making tourist visas simpler, faster and more convenient to get
• Updating local tourist bodies to become Destination Management Organisations (DMOs), which will work alongside local companies to market their area more effectively. The strategy also allows for the erection of thematic tourism bodies as well, which are based around a certain type of holiday.
• Encouraging rating schemes and consumer websites that improve the quality of information of travel, accommodation, attractions and accessibility.
• Broadening Britain’s tourism offer by promoting alternative destinations to London that have “enough top-quality visitor attractions within a reasonably defined area”.
Prime Minister David Cameron said he was confident that through the strategy Government and industry could together make the next few years “the best ever for tourism in Britain”.
“Government will play our part, but we know that the real key to making Britain’s tourist industry flourish lies with the industry itself and the businesses and organizations at its heart,” he said. “Our strategy sets out how we will modernise tourism bodies to ensure they reflect the natural geography of a tourist area, allowing businesses and organisations to work together in partnerships to market their area in the most effective way.
“Most importantly, this strategy will ensure decisions on local tourism policy are driven by those that know their area best and allow the industry to take responsibility for its own future.”
BigHospitality spoke with Minister for Tourism John Penrose ahead of the Tourism Strategy launch. Watch the video here.