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Government's Tourism Strategy by John Penrose MP (2011)

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As Tourism Minister John authored the Government’s tourism policy to help the industry achieve its potential as a major employer and source of economic growth at a time of austerity, and grasp the opportunities of the 2011 Royal Wedding, and the 2012 Olympics and Diamond Jubilee.

Below is a breakdown of some of the aims that John laid out in the paper and a review of their progress so far...

The Results so far

  • In 2013 tourism revenues grew by 13% on 2012 and in the first 6 months of 2014 were up 7% compared to the same period in the previous year.
  • Average spend on arrival is up from £563 to £640 too, meaning not only are we getting more visitors but they are - as hoped - pumping more money into the economy.

Modify Tourist Boards to become industry-led partnerships between local firms and government, funded through partnership marketing campaigns which will eliminate the problems of free-riding by non-participating firms, matched by public money. VisitBritain will focus on researching, creating and delivering marketing campaigns which will attract more inbound foreign tourists, and VisitEngland will become a national tourism body to match VisitScotland and VisitWales. This will dramatically and permanently reduce the sector’s dependence on taxpayer funding, increase the amount of money available for collective destination marketing, and create a sustainable new model of destination marketing and management which will change the way the industry operates for good.

For more information see Triennial Review submission.


  • Grouping neighbouring tourism destinations together, so they can create packages of attractions and visitor activities which have the size and scale to rival London (which currently takes the lions’ share of foreign inbound visitors) and spread our visitors more widely and evenly around the country. This will help our Regional Growth Strategy to stimulate firms outside London and the southeast, by expanding regional airports and by creating new high-speed rail routes to link newly-arrived visitors at Heathrow with the midlands too.
  • Improving tourism industry staff and management skills significantly, in partnership with People 1st (the main sector skills council).
  • Driving product improvement, including making the visitor economy more resilient to bad weather. We must improve the product which we’re offering our visitors by configuring our destinations and attractions around ‘all weather’ products wherever possible and practical. Too many firms view themselves as summer season businesses that make a little more money if the weather’s good in May or October, rather than investing in their products to make reliable returns throughout the winter as well.
  • Improving the planning process and cutting red tape, to make it quicker, cheaper and simpler to run and expand a tourism business or attraction.

The Results so far

  • We have been recording a record number of inbound visitors from abroad since the launch of the Tourism Strategy, meaning we're on target for 40m in 2020.
  • Average spend on arrival is up from £563 to £640, meaning not only are we getting more visitors but they are - as hoped - pumping more money into the economy.
  • The GREAT image campaign (which John launched) generated a return of £200.25 million - a return on investment (ROI) of 8:1.
  • Around 10% of visitors “definitely / probably” booked a trip to Britain or stayed for longer as a result of GREAT campaign media.
  • A VisitBritain model estimates that the GREAT campaign limited a potential downturn in visits of 903,000 which Britain might have seen without the campaign (due to bad weather), equating to a potential loss of £463.9 million (over almost two years to March 2014). Instead, we saw record numbers and spending.
  • In the South West, 2013's figures show a 48% rise in holiday visits with 512,000 holidaymakers visited during the summer (an all-time high).
  • Again, using the South West as an example, overseas visitors alone spent £244 million in 2014's summer months – another new record and an increase of 29% on 2013.

  • Making the visa application and granting processes simpler, faster and more convenient. We will dramatically increase the number of visa biometric ID centres, so they’re easier to get to (it can take days to reach one in some parts of the world at present); put applications online; and publish both the application forms and guidance notes in more local languages too.
  • Reduce the time it takes to get through our ports and airports.
  • Reforming Air Passenger Duty to spread the tax widely, so it doesn't fall so heavily on each visit coming to - or leaving - the UK.

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