Government tourism sector deal on the cards

The Government has unveiled plans to boost UK tourism by attracting more domestic and overseas visitors and helping drive economic growth.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright confirmed the Government will begin negotiations with the sector on an ambitious Industrial Strategy sector deal.

He has called upon the industry to respond with a renewed commitment to promote its offer throughout the year, not just in the peak summer months, and increase high-quality, well-paid jobs.

The sector has been asked to look at the key themes of making tourism and hospitality a career for life, making the UK the most accessible tourism industry in the world, sharing industry data to identify growth opportunities in new and emerging markets, and increasing accommodation capacity.

The announcement follows an initial proposal submitted by tourism industry leaders, led by Steve Ridgway, Chair of the British Tourist Authority. It also comes as the Government marks one year since the launch of its modern Industrial Strategy, which aims to boost productivity by backing businesses to create good jobs and increase the earning power of people throughout the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure.

British Tourist Authority Chair Steve Ridgway CBE, former Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic Airways, who is leading the UK tourism industry’s bid for a sector deal under the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy said:

“Tourism is an economic powerhouse, a growing industry with huge potential to scale-up productivity, so it is very welcome news that an official negotiation for a sector deal has today been confirmed by the UK Government.

“Securing this deal will be a game-changer for the industry, spelling a step-change in how we underpin the success of tourism for a generation, fixing issues from skills and productivity to extending the season year-round and building stronger tourism destinations up and down the country. And it will be a game-changer for the economy with a sector deal growing the value of the industry and increasing employment in tourism.”

The Secretary of State also challenged the tourism industry to use the sector deal negotiations as an opportunity to deliver more collaborative data sharing with VisitBritain, around visitor figures, behaviours and audience analysis. This is to help take a more strategic approach to promotional activity and a more united approach to environmental protection.

UKHospitality has welcomed the agreement in principle of a sector deal for tourism.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “We are delighted that a sector deal has been agreed in principle. Securing a sector deal for hospitality has been a priority for UKHospitality and we have worked very hard to achieve it. The tourism and hospitality sectors are closely linked, with over 80% of tourism jobs within hospitality, so this will have a positive impact on our ability to recruit and retain the workforce we need.

“A supportive sector deal will provide us with incredibly useful support to enhance the skills and training that hospitality already provides. As a sector, we are a fantastic employer and proud of the work we do to develop young employees, but a sector deal will enable us to achieve even more. UKHospitality is committed to enhancing the development and training on offer across hospitality, the roll-out of high-quality apprenticeship schemes and on-the-job training. Additional support from Westminster will allow the sector to capitalise on such schemes and augment the training we provide.

“The positive work that we do, and the future initiatives we wish to undertake with the help of the sector deal does, however, rely on the sector being able to access sufficient labour, at a time when we have virtual full employment, and any future immigration policy will need to reflect that. The Government has shown great intent by agreeing a sector deal for tourism, so we look forward to working in partnership, with positive action to secure the future workforce for our sector.”