Statement made by Nigel Huddleston, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport and Tourism
The government has published a Tourism Recovery Plan(opens in a new tab) which sets out a framework for the tourism sector’s recovery from COVID-19. This is a cross-government plan which recognises that tourism supports, or is supported by, the work of nearly every government department. This plan brings together recent, existing and planned support for the sector by the UK government into one framework.
In November 2020, as part of the first Global Travel Taskforce report, the UK government made a commitment to bring forward a Tourism Recovery Plan in 2021 which was reiterated in the Prime Minister’s Spring Reopening Roadmap published in February. The commitment to produce a Recovery Plan arose from the simple fact that tourism has been one of the hardest hit sectors of the UK economy by COVID-19.
The UK government wants to see a growing, dynamic, sustainable and world-leading tourism sector reaching its full potential and driving growth across all parts of the UK. Specifically, we are aiming to:
- Recover domestic overnight trip volume and spend to 2019 levels by the end of 2022, as well as inbound visitor numbers and spend by the end of 2023: both targets are a year faster than independent forecasts predict;
- Ensure that the tourism sector’s recovery benefits every nation and region in the UK, with growing accommodation occupancy rates in the off-season, visitors staying longer and world-class levels of investment in tourism products and transport;
- Build back better with a more innovative and resilient tourism industry, maximising the potential for technology and data to enhance the visitor experience and employ more UK nationals in year-round quality jobs;
- Ensure the tourism sector contributes to the enhancement and conservation of our cultural, natural and historic heritage, minimises damage to the environment and is inclusive and accessible to all; and
- Return the UK swiftly to its pre-pandemic position as a leading European destination nation for hosting business events such as trade fairs, conferences and exhibitions.
A short term focus of the Plan is to provide businesses with the support they need to return back to profit. For example, over £25 billion has already been provided to the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors in the form of grants, loans and tax breaks, and tourism has been one of the most reliant economic sectors on measures such as the furlough scheme. The government has allocated at least £19 million to domestic and international marketing activity to help with the recovery, with a £5.5 million domestic campaign led by VisitEngland already underway. Measures such as the VAT cut for tourism and hospitality, and a continuation of business rates relief for eligible properties will continue supporting businesses, and new proposals such as the introduction of a domestic tourism rail product and the National Lottery Days Out scheme that will help stimulate demand. There is a particular focus in the Plan on maximising the set piece events scheduled for 2022; Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, the Festival UK* 2022 and the Commonwealth Games, which will all act as major domestic and international tourist draws.
Once restrictions are lifted, the government will focus on building back better. For example, the Plan lays out significant levels of UK-wide investment already underway in tourism product and infrastructure, as well as new support due to come in over subsequent years, such as the £4.8 billion Levelling-Up Fund. We will also bring forward a consultation on the introduction of a Tourism Accommodation Registration Scheme in England.
A root and branch independent review of Destination Management Organisations (DMO’s) in England, led by Nick de Bois, is already underway. This review was launched in March 2021 and is assessing how best to structure and support tourism at a regional level. Other measures, such as an expanded ministerial advocacy and industry ambassadorial programme for business events, will help cement the UK’s position as a leading European destination nation for hosting business events.
To ensure the success of the Plan, a new quarterly inter-Ministerial group for Tourism, chaired by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, will be set up to deliver and update this Plan as necessary. The Tourism Recovery Plan will be revisited at regular intervals to ensure the right policy interventions are in place. The government will work collaboratively with the Tourism Industry Council and other key stakeholders from across the tourism sector in order to get it done.
A copy of this document will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.