The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, is putting pressure on the Government to address challenges faced by tourism businesses, such as poor broadband, recruitment problems and under-investment to enable countryside tourism to thrive.
CLA senior rural business and economist adviser Dr Charles Trotman said the Government needed to recognise that rural tourism is different from urban.
“Rural tourism supports rural businesses and local communities providing around £11bn a year to the English economy. However, poor digital connectivity and under-investment threatens the unique nature of rural tourism," he said.
Trotman told the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Select Committee inquiry that rural tourism businesses needed 'confidence to invest in the future'.
"It is crucial that the tourism industry and the Government work together to establish how vital funding which supports tourism across the countryside currently provided under EU funding streams will be replaced up to and beyond Brexit.”
The CLA has issued a five point plan in which it is asking the Government to:
- Remove fragmentation between the rural tourism industry and the Government to help promote growth, innovation and productivity;
- Boost apprenticeship and skills by developing and implementing a dedicated apprenticeship programme for rural businesses;
- Create a dedicated rural funding mechanism to ensure enough investment is made post-Brexit;
- Improve digital connectivity to allow rural businesses to benefit from the digital revolution;
- Create a rural tourism between Government and the industry so the right business decisions can be made and support economic growth.