English Tourism Week

By | Category: Travel news

Having explored Scottish Tourism Week earlier this month I thought that, with English Tourism Week starting yesterday (March 30th) I would let readers know how English politicians are considering tourism.

Colchester Castle

In particular, I thought I would look at a debate that occurred in the House of Commons on the state of tourism in the east of England which was initiated by Will Quince MP for Colchester.

,As you might expect, Quince spent quite a bit of his speech plugging the tourist delights of Colchester but just doing that doesn’t explain why, in his words, it deserves “the attention, investment, and support of Government.”  If readers were looking to see what changes, improvements or advances in tourism were on the way they would have been disappointed. Until towards the end of his speech when he suggested that “Essex and the eastern region as a whole should do far more—perhaps through local enterprise partnerships—to ensure we make an attractive proposition across the board.” But what? He didn’t say other than wanting to access various government funds to promote what Colchester possessed. Shouldn’t that be happening anyway as part of the local tourism associations remit?

Priti Patel, the MP for Witham which is the adjacent constituency to Colchester called for more investment in infrastructure but a sentence or two doesn’t do this justice. To move tourists around there needs to be better roads, better rail and better paths. An inability for us tourists to get around easily inhibits what we can visit in the limited time we have to enjoy our holidays and breaks. 

John Whittingdale, a former Culture Secretary who would have had overall responsibility for tourism, advocated that there should be recognition that digital marketing is key. He called for more co-ordination of activities. It is tempting to ask why this didn’t happen under his brief. Many ears ago there used to be an East of England Tourism tourism group. But that disappeared many years ago. Is Whittingdale suggesting it should return?

James Duddridge is one of the MP’s representing Southend on of the most important tourist towns on the east coast. Seven and a half million of us visit the area each year and generates £335 million in revenue for the town but what he want for the future? His speech was akin to another tourist brochure.

No other speeches were heard before the tourism minister, Michael Ellis MP, summed up by pointing out the blindingly obvious – that tourism is important. He trumpeted that 2017 brought record numbers of international visitors but that is not the whole story. The average growth in international tourism was higher than in the UK. By that definition we stumbled.   

He drew attention to the future high streets fund and the stronger towns fund both of which he thought would contribute towards developing our more rural and coastal visitor opportunities as would the cultural development fund and the Discover England Fund.  To do that local tourism groups need to band together and apply for funds so that funds don’t end up going to just one or two large places.

That comes down to us. We are both tourists and providers of tourism products for we all know of somewhere special. But how many of us get involved?

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