Government launches plan to drive rapid recovery of tourism sector

The Cotswolds from Broadway Tower

The government has announced a raft of new measures to help UK tourism recover from the pandemic.

A new rail pass and vouchers for popular tourist attractions are at the heart of a government plan to return domestic tourism to pre-pandemic levels by 2022 and international tourism by 2023.

A £10 million voucher scheme will be launched by The National Lottery this autumn to encourage trips beyond the peak summer season, with players having the chance to claim vouchers to redeem at tourist attractions across the UK between September 2021 and March 2022.

A rail pass for “staycationers” will also be launched later this year. The new pass will build on the success of the BritRail pass, which is sold through VisitBritain and currently gives international visitors flexible travel across the country, as well as providing discounted entry to tourism attractions.

The government also plans to explore how tourism data collected at the border can support the sector and will look to create a tourism data hub. The hub could track consumer trends in travel, such as the growth in “active tourism” such as watersports and hiking, and booking of sustainable tourism experiences. The data gathered will help inform policy and marketing whilst working to improve visitor experience.

A sustainable tourism plan is also planned for later this year to put the UK at the forefront of the global discussion on sustainable travel.

Pre-pandemic, England looked set to hit 100 million domestic overnight trips in 2020. In 2019, 41 million international visitors came to the UK for business or leisure, spending more than £28 billion, putting the UK in the top 5 countries globally for inbound visitor spending.

However the sector has been hugely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with cities among the most impacted areas. £19 million has also been earmarked for marketing campaigns to promote cities and towns across the country, with a £5.5 million domestic campaign already underway.

Tourism Minister and MP for Mid Worcestershire, Nigel Huddleston, said: “Our brilliant tourism sector is one of our country’s greatest assets, making a huge contribution to our economy and delivering jobs across all communities. This is why we’ve provided it with £25 billion in support so far during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Tourism Recovery Plan is our blueprint for how the sector can build back even faster than forecasts predict.”

The news has been welcomed by key tourism organisations.

VisitBritain/VisitEngland chairman Lord Patrick McLoughlin said: “The UK Government’s Tourism Recovery Plan is a welcome and important step on the industry’s road to recovery, recognising the economic potential of the sector, setting out a clear policy direction for the future and outlining the ambitions for domestic and international tourism.”

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive Officer, UK Hospitality, added: “The Tourism Recovery Plan is a hugely positive and welcome recognition of the social, economic and cultural importance of the hospitality and tourism sector. It is not only our third largest export earner but also domestically it delivers jobs, growth and investment at pace and scale in communities across the UK.”

Tourism is an important part of this region’s economy.

Oxford, the tourism gateway to the rest of Oxfordshire, attracts approximately seven million day time and staying visitors per year, generating £780 million of income for Oxford businesses. In terms of overseas visitors to the UK, Oxford is the eighth most visited city for staying visits.

The Cotswolds attracts 38 million visitors per year.

In South Warwickshire, tourism was worth £691 million to the south Warwickshire economy in 2017. More than 10 million tourists visit every year.

Tourism contributed more than £179 million to Worcester’s economy in 2018.

The visitor economy in the Bristol region is one of the biggest in the UK. According to research data compiled by Destination Bristol, the tourism economy in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire region is worth £1.4 billion a year and supports over 29,000 jobs.

In total, around £473 million was spent on trips to Windsor and Maidenhead in 2019 by overnight and day visitors, a rise of severn per cent on 2018.