Mid Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston has welcomed the announcement by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that the Government intends to secure a Tourism Sector Deal.
The Government introduced the concept of Sector Deals in its 2017 Industrial Strategy Green Paper. Instead of the government researching and prioritising sectors for funding as it had done in the past, under this new approach sectors are asked to come together and bid for Government support. Industries which have already been given sector deals include the automotive industry, life sciences, nuclear and creative industries.
Tourism is an area of long-term interest to Mr Huddleston, who worked in the travel and tourism sector before becoming an MP and is currently serving as a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport which has responsibility for tourism.
Tourism supports more than 3 million jobs in the UK overall and plays a vital role in the Worcestershire and West Midlands economy. Recent analysis shows that in 2017 alone there were more than 2 million visits to the West Midlands – an increase on the previous year – and these visitors to the region spent over £800 million.
Nigel Huddleston has been lobbying for a sector deal for tourism since the concept was introduced and worked closely with industry representatives on their submission to the Government. The tourism sector’s proposal called for action in four areas: skills, business events, connectivity, and Tourism Action Zones. Although visits and spend have been increasing across the UK, London still attracts more than 50% of all inbound visitors and the deal proposes targeted Government intervention such as creating Tourism Action Zones and improving connectivity in order to boost visitor numbers beyond London.
Commenting on the announcement, Mr Huddleston said: “I am delighted that after months of lobbying, the Government has heeded the calls from myself and the tourism industry and announced its intention to secure a tourism sector deal. Tourism is a vital part of my constituency’s economy and it stands to benefit greatly from this sector deal. Across the UK overall, tourism represents 10% of the economy and the industry is growing at nearly double the rate of the economy as a whole. By announcing its intent to secure this deal, the Government has made clear that it recognises the economic importance of the tourism industry and is willing to invest in its future. I will continue to work closely with the tourism industry and my colleagues in DCMS as the negotiations on the sector deal continue.”