VisitBritain hails “welcome and important step”
A new rail pass and vouchers for popular tourist attractions are part of a plan to return domestic tourism to pre-pandemic levels by 2022 and international tourism by 2023, the government has said.
A £10 million 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 this year, and will hope to build on the success of the BritRail pass, which is sold through VisitBritain and currently gives international visitors flexible travel across the country, as well as discounted entry to tourism attractions.
The government said it will explore how tourism data collected at the border can support the sector and we will look to create a tourism data hub to give the sector access to “robust, accessible and timely data”.
The hub, it said, could track consumer trends in travel, such as the growth in active tourism such as watersports and hiking, and booking of sustainable tourism experiences.
Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston MP said: “Our brilliant tourism sector is one of our country’s greatest assets, making a huge contribution to our economy and delivering jobs across all communities. This is why we’ve provided it with £25 billion in support so far during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“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.”
VisitBritain chairman Lord Patrick McLoughlin said: “The UK government’s Tourism Recovery Plan is a welcome and important step on the industry’s road to recovery, recognising the economic potential of the sector, setting out a clear policy direction for the future and outlining the ambitions for domestic and international tourism.
“Tourism is a critical industry, a powerhouse of innovation, creativity and employment, injecting cash into the economy with a track record for growth and levelling-up, supporting local economies in every part of the UK and strengthening our place on the world stage.
“By working together to drive demand and build back visitor spend as quickly as possible we can emerge from the pandemic and also look towards a brighter future building an industry that is more resilient, sustainable, inclusive and innovative.
“Our spending review bid this year will seek to support the plan’s ambitions and to build on the successful projects we have been running, working with the UK government and across the industry to cement the recovery and the future of one of this country’s greatest industries.”
The government will develop a Sustainable Tourism Plan as part of the discussion about sustainable travel. It said this will look at further measures to reduce the impact of tourism on our environment while balancing the needs of local communities with the economic benefits generated by tourism. The Plan will build on the significant investments in sustainable tourism already underway, such as the completion of the England Coast Path – the longest of its type in the world – and the almost £1 billion investment in electric vehicle charging hubs at service stations.
Pre-pandemic, England looked set to hit 100 million domestic overnight trips in 2020. In 2019, 41 million international visitors came to the UK for business or leisure, spending over £28 billion whilst here and putting the UK in the top 5 countries globally for inbound visitor spending.
However the sector has been hugely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with cities amongst the most impacted areas. £19 million has also been earmarked for marketing campaigns to promote cities and towns across the country, with a £5.5 million domestic campaign already underway.