ANNE MARIE MORRIS IS THE CONSERVATIVE MP FOR NEWTON ABBOT AND HAS BEEN SINCE 2010
The UK is one of the most visited countries in the world and it is crucial we remain globally competitive in our hospitality offering to meet growing demand from tourists. Tourism is a vitally important sector for Devon and the prosperity of local communities.
The hospitality industry employs 1 in 10 people in coastal towns. In Teignbridge we are blessed with some of the most beautiful coastline in the UK which lends itself to our thriving tourism industry.
During the summer months, the population of Devon swells by an extra 1.4 million people at the height of the holidays. South Devon received a record number of visits from tourists in 2018, up by 5 per cent on 2017. These numbers increased further this year.
More people were planning to holiday in the UK this summer with a survey by Travelodge finding that seven out of ten adults say they would be taking their annual summer break in the UK. I was delighted to see the survey also found Devon to be in the top three holiday destinations in the UK alongside Cornwall and Blackpool.
Anne Marie Morris MP
Since 2010 tourism has been the fastest growing sector in the UK in employment terms. Britain is forecast to have a tourism industry worth over £257 billion by 2025. Tourism is one of our most valuable industries which is why I was delighted to see the Government agree the first ever tourism sector deal at the end of June this year.
The deal will prepare Britain for an extra 9 million visitors per year and commits to build 130,000 new hotel rooms by 2025, 75 per cent of which will be outside of London. A number of proposals to support and promote the sector are detailed within the plan, which is aimed at improving recruitment, attracting business and leisure tourists and promoting data sharing to facilitate growth. I was pleased to see the deal also formally recognises the sector’s importance to the economy as a whole and its status as a major employer.
More from Teignbridge
The deal includes the creation of a Hospitality and Tourism Skills Board, chaired by former Travelodge chief executive Grant Hearn, which will work with the Tourism Industry Council.
The board will oversee a significant increase in the number of apprenticeships in the tourism and hospitality sectors to a total of 30,000 a year by 2025 – a 10,000-a-year increase on current numbers – as well as leading a mentoring programme for 10,000 hospitality employees every year.
The Government has also outlined, as part of the deal, its ambitions for the UK to become the most accessible destination for disabled visitors, through improvement of disabled facilities and access to destinations across the country.
Teignmouth beach (Image: Andy Styles)
A key part of the deal will be the creation of five new ‘Tourism Zones’ to drive visitor numbers up across the country. These zones will receive Government support for growing their local visitor economy, through initiatives like targeted support for product and promotion development and mentoring support to businesses.
The plan is for the areas selected to reflect the diversity of the country, including rural, coastal and urban destinations, with winning bids likely to include plans to extend the tourism season outside of the summer months, invest in the local workforce, increase accessibility and enhance attractions. More information about the bidding process will be released later in the year, with a view to commencing projects in 2020.
I am greatly encouraged to see the Government implementing more policies to allow for tourism to thrive. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country but coastal communities have faced increasingly difficult economic conditions in recent years.
I will continue to lobby for the crucial investment in our transport and broadband infrastructure that will support our local economy and boost visitor number. I encourage everyone to visit this half term and see what our beautiful part of Devon has to offer!