Hospitality benefits from £40m fund as Government pledges to boost UK tourism

By Emma Eversham contact

- Last updated on GMT

England's seafood coast in Devon was one of the first recipients of funding from the Discover England Fund. Photo: Thinkstock/istock/Ian Woolcock
England's seafood coast in Devon was one of the first recipients of funding from the Discover England Fund. Photo: Thinkstock/istock/Ian Woolcock

Related tags: Tourism, Government

Seafood restaurants on the South Devon coastline, hotels and restaurants along the South West coast and golf resorts are some of the tourism businesses set to benefit from a share of the Government's first £40m Discover England Fund.

Seven projects, including one from the English Riviera Tourism Company, inspired by chef Mitch Tonks and with the intention of turning the area into an international seafood destination, were revealed as the first recipients of funding last week following a 'rigorous application process'.

The successful applicants were announced as the Government launched its Tourism Action Plan​ to help drive more visits from abroad and home to tourism areas outside London.

Tourism Action Plan

The plan, which includes the allocation of £40m of funds to projects designed to grow tourism across England over three years, sets out to:

  • Improve the Government's visa service
  • Cut red tape for tourism with 'sensible regulation' by changing alcohol and vehicle licensing to allow B&Bs to offer welcome drinks and pick up visitors from train stations.
  • Allow hospitality businesses in tourist areas to run flexible apprenticeship schemes, allowing training to be completed over a 16 to 18-month period rather than 12, with breaks included. It also plans to start work to promote tourism as a career choice this year.
  • Make travel easier for tourists with a GREAT tourism rail offer, including five new easy ways to book rail itineraries to help tourists travel 'seamlessly' around the UK.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "The British people’s decision to leave the European Union creates real opportunities for growth and we will work in close partnership with the tourism industry, to ensure it continues to thrive as negotiations on the UK’s exit progress.

"We are making it easier for visitors to travel beyond London and experience all of the world-class attractions the UK has to offer, to make sure the benefits of this thriving industry are felt by the many and not the few."

In a statement, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) which has called for a Seaside Tsar to help boost seaside resorts, said it welcomed the Government's 'clear commitment to supporting the tourism industry right across the UK'.

"Coastal tourism alone supports more jobs than the steel, pharmaceutical and aerospace industries combined, and it is often the cornerstone of local economies in these regions. Yet many of these communities face serious social and economic challenges," it said.

Discover England Fund

The first round of funds from the £40m pot were awarded to: 

  1. Golf Tourism England: ​A project to develop an online platform bringing together England's golf-related businesses for the Asia, Europe and North America markets following demand from international tour operators for such a service. 
  2. Telling the Stories of England: Developing Cultural Tourism Products across England for the US Alumni and Affinity Tours: ​A project to develop historical, cultural and countryside tours for the US market.
  3. Gardens and Gourmet: ​Led by VisitKent, this project supports the creation of a bookable visitor pass to enable visitors from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the US staying in London to explore the gardens and gourmet offer in Cheshire and Kent. 
  4. South West Coastal Path: I​nvestment in technology to bring together a range of bookable experiences based along the South West Coastal Path, including places to eat, accommodation and activities for German and Dutch visitors. 
  5. England’s Seafood Coast:​ Inspired by local chef Mitch Tonks and his celebration of local seafood, this bid from the English Riviera Tourism Company will see them working with DEFRA and local partners to transform the Riviera’s status as an international seafood destination in Western Europe as well as to scope the development of a new national product England’s Seafood Coast to attract international visitors.
  6. Incentive England: ​Led by Leopold Marketing, the project is designed to grow the volume and value of the incentive travel market in England from China, North America and the Middle East to help improve bookings. 
  7. Self-guided activity app: ​To help Compass Holidays upgrade their product to provide visitors with rich content on the local area and enable them to make bookings easily. 

UKinbound CEO, Deirdre Wells said : "UKinbound warmly welcomes the Government's Tourism Action Plan announced today. We are delighted that the Prime Minister has recognised the importance of our industry and the role it can play in bringing valuable economic growth to the UK. The funding will be vitally important to enhancing our tourism offer in a post-Brexit environment.

“As a member of the Discover England awards panel, I was really impressed with the quality and variety of projects which were submitted for consideration and the winners are a reflection of the diversity and innovation that is such an essential part of our industry. 

"A key concern for our sector has been to ensure that our visitors not only enjoy our world class capital city, but also the wealth of the countryside and heritage across the UK. We look forward to working with the Government and our rail partners on the new GREAT tourism rail offer to make it as easy as possible for our inbound visitors to explore more of the UK."

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