VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, welcomes the Prime Minister's unequivocal statement of support for the tourism industry which is a vital contributor to economic growth.
We share the Government's commitment to encouraging visitors to explore outside of London and are working with the National Boards, destinations and the tourism industry to promote Britain's amazing experiences to visitors around the world.
That process has already started - In 2014 visits to London were up 4%. This compares to 7% increase for Wales, 11% increase for Scotland and 13% increase for Yorkshire - but there is much more that can be done with a coordinated approach and focus.
As part of today's announcement for further growth, the Prime Minister will set up a new inter-ministerial group to co-ordinate activity across Government and ensure that tourism is factored into decision making across Government departments.
This will focus on five key areas:
- A better co-ordinated sector: Greater collaboration between local attractions and tourism organisations to grow the sector for everyone
- Skills and jobs: Driving and retaining talent in the sector to encourage growth
- Common sense regulation: Reforming regulation sensibly to drive competition and improve the tourism offer for visitors
- Transport: Forging innovative links between the transport and tourism sectors to help visitors travel outside of the capital
- An improved welcome: Delivering a world class welcome at the Border
The focus on transport as an enabler to regional exploration is to be welcomed. Interestingly, our research shows that practical issues remain a barrier for visitors to venture out and explore more of the country. VisitBritain will advocate that we should learn from our European competitors - ensuring tickets and deals are easily bookable by overseas visitors in their own language. VisitBritain already sells the BritRail pass through its online shop and would welcome ideas to further increase promotion and encourage more travellers to use them.
Sally Balcombe, Chief Executive at VisitBritain said: "International tourism is the UK's third largest service export and delivers economic benefits right across Britain - including jobs. We are one of the most diverse destinations in the world, so it's excellent news that there will be a renewed emphasis on delivering jobs and growth to our nations and regions, with VisitBritain at the heart of this activity.
"As principal international delivery partners of the £5 million South West and £10 million Northern destination funds, we are working closely with VisitEngland, partners, airlines, ferries, tour operators and local businesses to ensure that international visitors aspire to explore Britain and can easily book our wide range of world-class experiences."
Tourism is a fiercely competitive business - one in which Britain competes well on the global stage. At a time of economic uncertainty in the Eurozone - the source of 54% of our visitors - VisitBritain welcomes the new focus on supporting the continued economic growth of the industry, that delivers jobs and growth across the nations and regions of Britain.