English tourism set for bumper decade, says report

New research from the Local Government Association predicts that English tourism could grow by almost 3 per cent every year for the next ten years.

English tourism to increase Liverpool
English tourism is set to grow by almost 3 per cent every year over the next decade, out-stripping growth in the economy as a whole, according to research published on Tuesday – World Tourism Day ­– by the Local Government Association (LGA).The LGA said the research, which it commissioned from the RCS consultancy, showed that local authorities could use the government's devolution agenda to turn their areas into "thriving tourist hotspots" for both British and overseas visitors.According to the research, English tourism will grow by 2.9 per cent a year over the next decade, compared to the predicted annual rate of growth for the UK economy as a whole of 2.5 per cent.The report said that tourism, which supports 9.5 per cent of the nation's jobs, was boosting the prospects of many areas, including Plymouth, Liverpool and Staffordshire."The LGA is urging the government to keep up the momentum on agreeing devolution proposals to further boost tourism-led growth. The recently announced Tourism Action Plan is a step in the right direction, but much more could be done to put the levers of growth in the hands of local leaders," the LGA said."By focusing on improving transport, infrastructure, skills and business support – all central to devolution deals and key to boosting tourism – combined authorities and other similar arrangements can make better, more efficient decisions to maximise tourist revenue. "Crucially, councils and local partners can link these policy levers to enhance the distinctiveness of destinations, including high-quality attractions and skilled labour to drive England's tourist economy and unlock further growth."

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Ian Stephens, chairman of the LGA's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, added, "Councils have long recognised, and supported, the value of tourism to local growth, jobs and prosperity, which the devolution agenda should be primed to exploit. "The tourist economy is one of the UK's fastest growing economic sectors and councils have the opportunity to align their devolved responsibilities to improve their tourism offer to best showcase their unique identity and heritage, from food and drink and natural landscape to historic buildings and traditional festivals."Local areas have already capitalised on recent tourism opportunities and councils can use devolution deals to improve transport, infrastructure, skills and business support, which are crucial levers to maximise the tourist pound and economic growth."Decisions about these critical success factors for boosting tourism are best taken at the local level, which devolution deals stand to make possible through combined authorities and similar local governance arrangements."The move to full localisation of business rates in 2020 means that it will be even more important for councils to support and attract tourism-related businesses, where this is a local growth priority."There is significant growth potential from tourism and our analysis highlights an opportunity for increasing 'staycations' in order to close the UK's large tourism deficit."By creating the wider conditions for the visitor economy to thrive, local communities also benefit from a successful local visitor economy with an increased choice of facilities such as places to eat out, local shops, events and exhibitions, as well as conservation of local heritage and the natural landscape."The government needs to keep up the momentum on agreeing devolution proposals to further boost tourism-led growth and transform local economies."

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