Launched by Prime Minister Theresa May on 28 June, the UK’s first tourism sector deal means that the Government will prioritise and support the sector as a driver of economic growth and job creation.
The agreement will herald the creation of a Hospitality and Tourism Skills Board to promote hospitality jobs as viable career options and fund a three-year industry led skills and recruitment campaign.
Moreover, the deal will see local ‘tourism zones’ created alongside a new ‘business events’ strategy and further investment in infrastructure – including a commitment to build 130,000 new hotel rooms by 2025, 75% of which will be outside London.
In announcing the deal, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “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.
“That’s why today I am pleased to announce the UK’s first ever tourism sector deal, ensuring that we continue to innovate, boost connectivity and economic productivity, expand career pathways and break down barriers for visitors with disabilities.
“This deal recognises the important role tourism plays, and will continue to play, in showcasing what our great country has to offer.”
The deal will also support the creation of 10,000 new apprenticeships for anyone building a career in tourism or hospitality.
The importance of pubs and bars to the revival of seaside tourist hot spots has previously been acknowledged by a House of Lords select committee, which published a report titled The Future of Seaside Towns earlier this year.
According to stats from VisitEngland, pub visits are third on overseas visitors’ list of things to do in Britain, with more than half visiting one while in the UK.
Moreover, a number of breweries, wineries and distilleries were recognised among VisitEngland’s top tourist attractions in 2018.
Discussing the announcement of the sector deal, Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) explained: “Brewing and pubs are vital attractions for our tourism industry, which is why the BBPA has been at the heart of the development of the sector deal for tourism.
“Working with VisitBritain, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department for Business, Enterprise, Innovation and Skills, we have created a partnership with support from across Government that will boost our sector.
“The BBPA will be leading on the skills aspect of the sector deal, pledging £100,000 towards a recruitment and retention campaign. This will help attract and retain talent in our industry and provide them with a clear and exciting career pathway.
“London alone is aiming for 30% growth in visitors by 2025, so the sector deal for tourism is both timely and welcome.
“We hope it will be the beginning of greater support and understanding across Government of tourism and the place of hospitality in it, creating an industry that is world class.”
Hospitality sector trade body UKHospitality also welcomed the launch of the deal – hailing it as a landmark moment.
“This sector deal marks a tremendous moment for all of us in the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries,” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls explained.
“The move will be absolutely critical in changing the perception of the sector within Government and the wider public opinion, and acknowledges hospitality is key to the country’s economic growth.
“Tourism and hospitality are inextricably linked, with over 80% of tourism jobs within hospitality, so this will have a positive impact on our ability to recruit and retain the people we need.
“UKHospitality has worked tirelessly to ensure that the Government understands the importance of our vital industry and we look forward to continuing this partnership, with positive action to secure the future workforce for our sector.”
Commitment to pubs
Pub operators joined the BBPA and UKHospitality in welcoming the deal. Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Kent-based brewer and pub operator Shepherd Neame commented: “A sector deal for tourism shows Government commitment to our sector and is very welcome for the tourism industry, which is worth £127bn to the UK economy.
“Pubs are very much a part of this, and it is one of our best-kept secrets that you can be running an exciting business at, or even before, the age of 25.
“For entrepreneurs who enjoy working with people, it is one of the best possible careers out there.”
Moreover, James Staughton, chief executive of Cornwall-based brewer and pub operator St Austell, added: “As a company that trades in the south-west of England, we welcome the sector deal for tourism and the Government’s support for the tourist industry, which plays such an important part in the region’s economy.
“Broadband coverage remains inconsistent across our region with many businesses still held back by poor speeds. This additional investment will help reach customers worldwide and enable tourism-related businesses in particular to benefit from an extended season and greater sharing of tourism data to assist them in their decision making.”