Its April Fool’s Day so lets revisit English Tourism Week

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Michael Ellis; Parlaimentary Under Secretary at the DCMS and responsible for tourism

On April Fool’s Day I could spin a yarn about something improbably such as Jet 2 launching  (correct word chosen there) holidays to the moon.

Or I could look at something serious which might be considered ajoke by others. How useful was English Tourism Week?

Visit England had, at least, arranged to publicise discount and offers that took place at attractions up and down the country. But like Scottish Tourism Month and Welsh Tourism Week in May,  the concentration is on the travel trade publicising themselves.

During the week there were questions to the tourism minister (its Michael Ellis in case you have forgotten) who, of course, has a brief for just England because tourism is a devolved responsibility. Except that isn’t quite true either since he has responsibility for Visit Britain which promotes all of our countries abroad. But some tourist authorities wonder about the impartiality of Visit Britain when it shares some administrative functions and a building with Visit England.

After the usual hidebound questions about what the minister is planning, members of the House of Commons got down to questions and we learnt that over 50 MP’s were doing constituency days. And the others don’t?

James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk stated that five mediaeval wool towns were banding together to promote themselves and would the minister visit them. Although he didn’t ask for support for the towns, Michael Ellis suggested two sources of finance which the group should have known about already.

Chris Davies, MP for Brecon and Radnor wanted to know how the rest of the world can be told about the Brecon Beacons to which the answer was that the government was working with the national parks. That was probably about as far as Ellis could go since promoting the Beacons would be a Visit Wales issue other than for overseas promotions.

Big PIt at Blaenavon

Nick Thomas-Symonds, MP for Torfaen (also in Wales) questioned what steps could be taken to get  industrial heritage a fair share of advertising space in ports and airports and received an odd answer that suggested heritage ( not necessarily industrial heritage) was one of the main reasons why overseas visitors come. Anyone could have suggested that but how about industrial heritage like coal mines, steel plants and cotton mills?

From the MP for Barnsley East, Stephanie Peacock came a question about why the Culture Secretary’s constituency, West Suffolk, gets £ 22 million and hers only gets £13 million only to be told that the government wants to encourage as much funding throughout the United Kingdom as possible.

Simon Hoare, MP for North Dorset, wanted more promotion for rural areas and was told that the  rural economy benefits hugely from tourism and, on a similar theme, Melanie Onn the MP for Great Grimsby wanted help in promoting the town’s fishing heritage and a charter dating back to 1201. The minister agreed that people should visit Great Grimsby.

For English Tourism Week, six MP’s (two of whom were from Welsh constituencies) asked questions about tourism. The other 549 English MP’s seem unconcerned by not showing up. Maybe they don’t see the value of tourism in jobs and economic development. Or maybe its because tourism doesn’t make headlines in mainstream media for them to have their moment of glory.

In the light of this evidence from our legislators is there any point in having an English Tourism Week or do they regard tourism as an April Fool’s joke? Next time, Visit England, forget the politicians who did next to nothing to help and concentrate on publicising tourism benefits to us – the visitors.

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