Outgoing prime minister Theresa May has announced a package of measures to boost the UK’s inbound tourism industry.
The government’s Tourism Sector Deal is a range of initiatives designed to help the UK inbound industry to cope with an expected extra nine million international visitors annually by 2025 – the UK welcomed 38 million arrivals in 2018.
As part of the deal, the government said it was committed to adding 130,000 new hotel rooms by 2025, as well as 10,000 new apprenticeships per year and creating a new tourism data hub, which will identify insights and trends to help the UK sector better target overseas tourists.
There will also a “new focus” on removing accessibility barriers for visitors who have disabilities.
May said: “I am pleased to announce the UK’s first ever tourism sector deal, ensuring that we will 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.”
Other plans include the piloting of five new Tourism Zones to increase visitor numbers throughout the UK, which will receive government support to grow their tourism industries. Meanwhile, 10,000 employees in the sector will be able to take part in new mentorship schemes.
British Tourist Authority Chair Steve Ridgway called the tourism deal a “game-changer” and showed the sector was “moving to the top table” in the government’s future economic planning.
“It is a game-changer for the economy, growing the value of the industry and employment in tourism, fixing issues from skills and productivity to extending the season year-round, building stronger tourism destinations up and down the country and developing world-class experiences for domestic and international visitors,” added Ridgway.
UKinbound chair James Aitken also welcomed the government’s announcement.
“For the first time, we will have a national strategy that will help bring the sector together and collaborate on activities and initiatives,” he said.
“This will ultimately help visitors get to destinations quickly and easily, have a better experience in those destinations, improve productivity and efficiency and raise awareness about the fantastic employment opportunities the industry provides.”