The UK Government has unveiled its new Tourism Recovery Plan to help the sector build back better from the pandemic, which includes benefits for the business events industry, such as investment in the sector around the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
A review into how the UK’s Destination Management Offices are run is also underway and this could yield further benefit to the business travel and events industry.
The plan aims to recover domestic tourism to pre-pandemic levels by 2022 and international tourism by 2023, which the Government says is at least a year faster than independent forecasts predict.
The scheme includes a new rail pass and vouchers for popular tourist attractions. A £10m voucher scheme will be launched by The National Lottery this autumn to encourage trips beyond the peak summer season, with players having the chance to claim vouchers to redeem at tourist attractions across the UK between September 2021 and March 2022.
A rail pass for “staycationers” will be launched later in the year. The new pass will build on the BritRail pass, which is sold through VisitBritain and currently gives international visitors flexible travel across the country, as well as providing discounted entry to tourism attractions.
There will be a new focus on technology and data. The Government says it will explore how tourism data collected at the border can support the sector.
The Government has said it will develop a Sustainable Tourism Plan which will look at further measures to reduce the impact of tourism on our environment.
Pre-pandemic, England looked set to hit 100m domestic overnight trips in 2020. In 2019, 41m international visitors came to the UK for business or leisure, spending over £28bn while here and putting the UK in the top five countries globally for inbound visitor spending.
However, the sector has been hugely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with cities among the most impacted areas. £19m has also been earmarked for marketing campaigns to promote cities and towns across the country, with a £5.5m domestic campaign already underway.
The plan also looks ahead to 2022, a year in which the UK will showcase the nation on the world stage with a triumvirate of major events. The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Festival UK 2022 and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston MP said: “The Tourism Recovery Plan is our blueprint for how the sector can build back better from the pandemic, even faster than forecasts predict.
“It’s been a challenging year for the tourism sector, especially for our cities, but I know they stand ready to welcome visitors back and I encourage everyone to rediscover the UK’s fantastic tourism offer.”
Michael Hirst OBE, chairman, Events Industry Board, said: “Meetings and conferences, exhibitions and trade shows are crucial to the UK’s recovery in showcasing innovation, growing international visitors, attracting inward investment and creating jobs.
“We are delighted to see this recognised within the Recovery Plan which includes expansion of VisitBritain’s support programmes to include a UK-wide domestic fund, greater cross Whitehall working and enhanced ministerial advocacy support plus elements related to sustainability, skills and accessibility. We are committed to working with Government to ensure the UK retains and enhances its position as a leading European nation for hosting business events.”