Recognising the“astonishing contribution”of tourism
by David Weston
Chairman of the
Bed & Breakfast Association
The Culture secretary Karen Bradley recently said that she recognised the “astonishing contribution that inbound tourism makes to the UK economy” – and the latest figures out (Feb) show incoming numbers up 11% and spend up 6%, after a record 2016.
She added that “tourism perspectives on border issues, immigration, and movement of people are essential when developing approaches and policies that work for us all”.
As part of the “Industrial Strategy” so important to Teresa May’s Government, the B&B Association and other tourism bodies are working with the Tourism Department (DCMS) to take part in the creation of a “Sector Deal” bid for Tourism.
A Sector Deal would mean the Visitor Economy featuring in the Government’s long-term economic strategy, allowing our sector to work on longer-term policy goals and making the industry “more resilient and competitive” in the future.
Steve Ridgway, formerly CEO of Virgin Atlantic (and the co-owner of an independent hotel in Cornwall) has agreed to be the figurehead for this bid and over the coming month we will be meeting him (with other industry bodies) to help shape some of the key tourism “asks” of Government and helping to shape the final submission.
The working groups are on: connectivity, regulation, industry of choice, and industry of the future. These groups will now look to pulling out strategic asks of Government, around four key questions:
- Where is the industry being held back from its potential?
- Where can Government step in and help?
- Where does Government need to be challenged?
- What evidence is there of future opportunities where Britain can lead?
Alongside this process (in which we will represent you), an online consultation will be open for small businesses to submit their ideas directly too.
I will be starting on the Regulation Working Group in May, and by the time we sit around the next Tourism Industry Council table this Summer under the Tourism Minister’s Chairmanship, a draft deal should be ready for consultation. The deadline for submission of the Sector Deal proposal is September.
It is easy to be cynical about such Government initiatives, but my view is: they have asked us what we want, so let’s tell them, and give them every chance to help us make our sector of the economy ever more successful. Let’s go for the best “Sector Deal” we can, then hold Government to it.
The Bed & Breakfast Association is the UK trade association for B&B and guest house owners, and exists to inform, support & represent owners. Membership costs £60 a year.