UK government aims to grow business events sector through first-ever tourism deal

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

The Prime Minister of Britain has announced a first-ever tourism sector deal to prepare the country for an extra nine million visitors per year.

Theresa May said the UK will commit to the creation of the country’s first-ever tourism data hub, which will show the latest trends and spends for businesses to better target overseas visitors.

Last year around 38 million people visited the UK, contributing £23 billion to the local economy. By 2025, experts predict that there will be an additional nine million visitors to the UK.

The deal will support the creation of an additional 10,000 apprenticeships for people building their careers in the tourism and hospitality sectors, while an additional 130,000 hotel rooms will be built to respond to the increased demand for infrastructure.

The government will also commit £250,000 to improve broadband connectivity in conferences centres across the UK for business visitors, along with a new strategy to grow the number of business events and conferences, which it hopes will drive off-season visitors.

May said the deal was crucial to ensuring that the UK continues to be competitive in international tourism.

“As one of the most visited countries in the world, the UK is a world leader in international tourism and it is crucial that we remain globally competitive to meet growing demands,” she said.

“This deal recognises the important role tourism plays, and will continue to play, in showcasing what our great country has to offer.”

British Tourist Authority (VisitBritain/VisitEngland) chairman Steve Ridgway called the deal a “game-changer” for tourism, saying it spelled a step-change in how the department underpinned the success of tourism for a generation.

“This sector deal is a game-changer for tourism, one of the UK’s most valuable export industries … moving it to the top table as a leading industry for the UK government’s future economic planning,” he said.

“And 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.

“Tourism is one of the most fiercely competitive global industries, and this deal ensures we can continue to compete internationally as a top destination for visitors, driving major economic growth across the whole of the UK.”