Fylde MP Mark Menzies has welcomed the Government’s Tourism Sector Deal – but says more could still be done to help coastal towns reliant on the visitor economy.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have been working with VisitBritain, the tourist board of Great Britain, and across government to negotiate and develop the ambitious Tourism Sector Deal, as part of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy.
The strategy sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. Sector Deals bring industry and government together in partnership to boost productivity in their sector and to ensure sectors are able to take advantage of major global changes such as those identified in the Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges.
The Tourism Sector Deal, announced by Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark, has six main aims.
Tourism Zones will be introduced to bring together businesses and organisations to create growth strategies; some 30,000 apprenticeships will be created in the sector by 2025 alongside a mentoring programme to keep people working in the sector; small businesses will be able to access tourism data hubs and learn from the biggest travel companies; more than 130,000 hotel rooms will be created , 97,500 of which will be outside London, by 2025; the UK will become the most accessible tourism destination in Europe for disabled visitors by 2025; and a clear carbon footprint reduction plan will be put in place for the sector.
Fylde MP Mr Menzies said: “We have a large visitor sector economy in Fylde with Lytham and St Annes and Fylde’s rural villages attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
“I welcome the Government’s announcement of a sector deal, especially a drive to reduce the impact of seasonality on the sector.
“Any action to reduce the difference between the surfeit of jobs in the summer months, and the reduced number in the winter months, is most welcome. We want to see jobs created which are permanent, and which can be a part of a career progression programme for employees.
“However, I believe there is still more we can do to help our tourism sector.
“In Europe there is vastly-reduced levels of VAT on certain tourism-related goods and services. I believe we should be looking to level the playing field go make us more attractive to visitors from all over the world.
“We have seen some reductions, such as for ski lift operators in Scotland, but I believe we can go far further to help attract more people to the UK; the small reduction in VAT collected from tourism operators will be more than outweighed, in the long run, by the increase in spend from visitors to the UK.”
It is hoped the Tourism Sector Deal will ensure the tourism industry can continue to grow inbound visitor numbers by an estimated 23 per cent by 2025. Those visitors will boost local economies by making best use of tourism assets throughout the year, ensuring visitors of the future get the very best of experiences throughout the country.