A new rail pass and vouchers for popular tourist attractions are at the heart of a plan to return domestic tourism to pre-pandemic levels by 2022 and international tourism by 2023.
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, helping to make it easier and more sustainable for domestic tourists to get around the country. The new pass will 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 providing discounted entry to tourism attractions.
There will be a new focus on technology and data. The government 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 could track consumer trends in travel, such as the growth in “active tourism” such as watersports and hiking, and booking of sustainable tourism experiences. The data gathered will help inform policy and marketing whilst working to improve visitor experience.
The government will develop a Sustainable Tourism Plan later this year to put the UK at the forefront of the global discussion on sustainable travel. This will look at further measures to reduce the impact of tourism on our environment whilst 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.
The Government has acted to protect jobs and businesses in the tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors, which have received over £25 billion in the form of grants, loans and tax breaks, including £5 billion in VAT cuts.
The government will also launch a consultation on the introduction of a Tourist Accommodation Registration Scheme in England. This will consider the benefits of the rise of short term holiday rentals in attracting tourists to destinations across the country and contributing to the English tourism economy, as well as its impact on local economies and communities. The consultation will help us target further government interventions in the future and create an improved national picture of the precise shape of the accommodation landscape which could feed into a wider Data Hub.
The plan also looks ahead to 2022: a massive year for the UK showcasing the nation on the world stage with a triumvirate of major events. Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Festival UK 2022 and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will promote the very best of Britain at home and abroad. An additional bank holiday for the Queen’s Jubilee will provide a further boost for tourism and hospitality while a £24 million Business and Tourism Programme will run alongside the Commonwealth Games to promote Birmingham, the West Midlands and the UK.
The government is determined to level-up the country and to ensure that every region is reaching its full potential. A root and branch review of how tourism at a regional and local level is funded and supported is already underway, focusing on the important role played by Destination Management Organisations, and will report in the summer.
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.
Read the Tourism Recovery Plan here.