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Valuing our visitors: how the Government can support UK tourism

Valuing our visitors: how the Government can support UK tourism

UKinbound | UKinbound

3 min read Partner content

Leading trade association UKinbound calls for greater backing for the UK's lucrative tourism sector. 

Whilst tourism may look like ‘fun’, it’s actually serious economics. In 2014 alone, 34 million visitors travelled to the UK and whilst they were here, spent a whopping £22 billion contributing 9% to UK’s GDP. Putting this into context, that makes inbound tourism the 7th biggest export earner for the UK - on a par with the automotive and pharmaceutical industries.

From our iconic buildings, our world-class heritage, stunning landscapes, fantastic food and drink and retail offering – it’s easy to see why so many tourists flock to the country year on year. However, it’s how we keep welcoming new and repeat visitors for years to come, which is the real challenge.

We need help from the Government, both national and regional to create the optimum fiscal and infrastructure environment to help this dynamic industry grow even further.

As we enter the feverish Election period, UKinboundhas outlined three key asks which we urge the incoming Government to help support. Our asks are simple. As simple as A, B, C…


ACKNOWLEDGE that the travel trade, which UKinbound represents is the real engine behind inbound tourism’s success. The travel trade ensure the UK is export-ready and offer routes to market across the globe.

Tourism is driving both economic and employment generation and has the power to rebalance the UK’s economy. Every additional international visitor to the UK brings £630 in export earnings and secures tourism’s position as the UK’s third biggest employer.

Exponential growth is possible but relies on support from Government in acknowledging the success, but more importantly the potential the industry could deliver if the Government BUILD - to encourage wider UK experiences for international visitors.

51% of international visitors only visit London. 77% said they would like to explore more of the UK. Building a transport network that supports the leisure industry will help do just that. Investing funding with destination management organisations to support product growth and improve quality will deliver a high quality experience to ensure repeat visitors and encourage wider UK travel. Building a world-class airport infrastructure, across the UK and not limited to London, will increase visitor capacity, increase tourism’s GDP contribution, generate more jobs and regenerate areas throughout Britain.

We therefore need Government to COMMIT to tourism.

The UK currently ranks 139 out of 140 for our competitiveness globally. We cannot expect tourism to grow unless there is a commitment to improving this. Sustained funding for international destination marketing via the GREAT campaign is essential in triggering interest to visit the UK in the first instance. We then need to ensure it’s easy to get visitors here – whilst the UK’s visa system is improving, it needs to be more customer-friendly and more accessible.

As the pound strengthens, the UK becomes even more expensive to visit. We already have higher rates of tourism taxation than most of our competitors (Air Passenger Duty and VAT).  We want the Government to commit to reviewing the taxation of the tourism industry and identify opportunities to promote growth, similar to the support which the creative industries – another great UK success story - have received in recent years.

The tourism industry has delivered huge growth in recent years and created 1 in 3 new jobs since the last Election.   It has the power to transform communities and regions, as well as showcasing our world-class cities and towns.  Investing in a winning industry should be a no-brainer for the new Government – as simple as ABC.

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Read the most recent article written by UKinbound - Government urged to 'take more notice' of £60bn tourist industry