Theresa May has announced an ambitious new tourism sector deal for the UK, designed to ensure the country’s future as a global player in the international tourism market.
The deal contains a commitment to building an additional 130,000 hotel rooms across the UK by 2025, in order to meet rising demand. It is estimated visits to the UK will jump 23% by the year 2025.
The deal will also support the creation of an additional 10,000 apprenticeships in the tourism and hospitality sectors, to ensure these facilities can be staffed.
The deal outlines the creation of a new Tourism Data Hub, which will collate regularly updated data on the latest trends and spending habits. UK businesses will be able to access the data to better target overseas visitors.
Prime Minister Theresa May commented: “As one of the most visited countries in the world, the UK is a world leader in international tourism and it is crucial that we remain globally competitive to meet growing demands.
“That’s why today I am pleased to announce the UK’s first ever tourism sector deal, ensuring that we continue to innovate, boost connectivity and economic productivity, expand career pathways and break down barriers for visitors with disabilities.
“This deal recognises the important role tourism plays, and will continue to play, in showcasing what our great country has to offer.”
Focus on business events
Business events will be a big driver for the deal’s focus on promoting tourism outside peak summer season. An International Business Events Action Plan has also been launched, which “sets out how the UK will maintain its position as a leading nation for hosting business events in Europe, with clear steps to bring more major conferences and exhibitions to the UK.”
The Events Industry Board, set up to advise government, has identified two priority areas which they can help and support – skills and infrastructure. Working groups set up by the board are considering these areas, and will report later in the year. The deal pledges ‘government advocacy and financial support’.
In addition, the deal outlines an ambition for the UK to become the most accessible tourism destination in Europe by 2025, increasing the number of international visitors with disabilities by 33%.
UK-wide, not just London
Of the 130,000 hotel rooms set to be built across the country, 75% will be built outside of London. £250,000 has also been pledged to improve broadband connectivity in conference centres across the UK.
In addition, the deal pledges to create Tourism Zones across the UK, which will bring businesses and local organisations together to establish a coordinated strategy for growth in their local visitor economy, and to increase off-season visits.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in these areas will receive targeted digital skills training and be offered practical guidance in management and leadership through the ‘Be the Business’ programme.
The full terms of the deal can be viewed online here.