AIM responds to the Culture Media and Sport Committee’s report on Tourism  

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee have today (26 March 2015) released a report pointing out that the UK’s tourism industry needs stronger support from the next government in Westminster, a point of view with which AIM heartily agrees.

Museums and heritage are a big driver of tourism visits to the UK and many AIM members rely on both British and international tourists for a large number of their visitors. AIM’s benchmarking and visitor research programme, Visitor Verdict, shows that nearly half (48%) of visitors to participating museums come from outside the museum’s own region – 40% coming from other parts of the UK and 8% coming from abroad. The contribution museums make to tourism was highlighted in Arts Council England’s recent report on the Economic Value of Museums.

AIM provided written evidence to the Committee as part of its deliberations and is pleased to see some of the concerns we raised reflected in the Committee’s conclusions including:

  • A concern to see better support for tourism at a regional level and more encouragement for visitors to travel beyond London.
  •  A call for reduction in tourism VAT to bring the UK market in line with others in EU. AIM is a member of the Cut Tourism VAT campaign
  •  The need for small tourism businesses to have their voices heard and for tourism to have a higher profile within government.

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The Committee’s full conclusions were:

-support for tourism in England was damaged by the abolition of the Regional Development Agencies without putting in place adequate arrangements for tourism promotion.

– with sufficient resources, VisitEngland  is well placed to move more decisively into the organisational vacuum left by the abolition of the Regional Development Agencies and the Regional Tourist Boards,  and could better coordinate the disparate efforts of some 200 local Destination Management Organisations.

– VisitBritain has shown marked success in attracting overseas visitors, but should remain alert to the need to leverage even more the undoubted lure of London to bring more visitors to other parts of the United Kingdom.

– the GREAT Campaign continues to demonstrate its originality and vitality: funding for this campaign needs to be confirmed for a longer period.

– further improvements to visa processing and cost reductions are needed.

– long before it becomes feasible to increase airport capacity in South East England, regional airports could be better promoted to encourage visitors to the UK in general and the regions in particular.

– reductions in VAT and Air Passenger Duty would make the UK offer even better value for money to holidaymakers, business travellers and students: the Government should give full consideration to this.

– too many regulations are ill-fitted to the world of small businesses that characterise much of the tourism industry:  the Government should take forward with greater speed the recommendations of the Tourism Regulation Taskforce, updated as necessary.

– training arrangements and apprenticeships should be better adapted to the features that make many tourism businesses unique, such as seasonality, scale and uncertainty in customer demand.

– in view of the potential benefits, not least to the tourism industry, of daylight saving time, we recommend that the Government commissions a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, including the research needed to properly inform this.

– many tourism businesses are small and struggle to have their voices heard: giving people like professional tourist guides a voice on the Tourism Industry Council would be a step forward, but most important of all, tourism needs a stronger voice in Government.

John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “The tourism sector is a major part of the UK’s economy and creates millions of jobs, involving a lot of small businesses and unique features such as seasonality and uncertainty in customer demand. Given the size of its contribution, there is not enough recognition of or support for the sector or adaptations to its unique features. Tourism needs a stronger voice, and Government should look at how the burden of regulation and taxation on the tourism industry could be lightened to boost its contribution even further.”

 You can view and download the full report here: Tourism Report

This blog post has been created using information from a press release issued by the Culture Media and Sport Committee with additional information from AIM added by Tamalie Newbery, Executive Director of AIM.

 

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