Manifestos and tourism

By | Category: Travel news

As Just about Travel has done in previous UK elections, we have pored over the manifestos of the major political parties to see what they have on offer. Admittedly, tourism and travel won’t be a major issue – when is it ever – but with Brexit how we move around after withdrawal, assuming that we will withdraw, is important.

What are the manifesto commitments to tourism?

Tourism is a devolved issue and therefore the UK general election will have little impact for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales other than in the fact that Visit Britain is the body tasked with encouraging people to visit the UK.

But their policies on domestic issues such as Air Passenger Duty and VAT may have an impact on us in years to come.

Starting alphabetically

Conservative Party

There is no mention of travel arrangements post Brexit in the one page devoted to Brexit. On page 26 there is talk of a Towns Fund to help regenerate and support towns which includes money for supporting museums and cultural events which bring communities together. Page 27 tells us that there will be a re-opening of some of the Beeching closed rail lines such as Fleetwood in Lancashire and Willenhall in the West Midlands.

There is no decision on whether HS2 will go ahead.

They will create new National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Northern Ireland tourism gets a mention on page 44 with a pledge to improve it (the manifesto doesn’t say how) and to consider devolving Air Passenger Duty.

Green Party

It will install more cycle ways and footpaths at the same time as reducing fares on trains and buses to make them more appealing over car usage.

They will cancel HS2 and use the money to electrify all lines between cities, re-open closed stations where possible and create a “golden age” of trains.

There will be a carbon tax on aviation fuel for domestic flights and tickets will lose their VAT exemption.  In addition they will ban advertising for flights and introduce a 15% frequent flyer levy to reduce the impact of the 15% of people who take 70% of flights but this will only aply to those people taking more than one flight per year. They will also stop the building of new runways and all increased road capacity.

It will also encourage more domestic holiday travel, through removing VAT from UK hotel and holiday home stays and attractions.

Labour Party

It pledges to restore some 3,000 bus routes which will enable visitors to see more of our countries and commits to taking HS2 to Scotland. It says that by taking rail into national ownership, there will be cheaper fares. It will also “deliver rail electrification and expansion across the whole country, including in Wales.”

It also says it will create more national parks.

Although there are three pages about the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (which is responsible for tourism) it says nothing about tourism other than saying that they will continue with free entry to museums and that it will support a UK Town of Culture to match the UK City of Culture

Liberal Democrats

They specifically refer to tourism on page 17 saying that they will upgrade “the status of tourism within government, by creating a Department of Digital, Culture, Media, Sport and Tourism, with a designated Minister of State for Tourism.”

They will also enable local authorities to bring in tourist levies to fund local tourism infrastructure.

There is also a commitment to HS2, Crossrail 2 and other major new strategic rail routes.

They will continue free access to national museums and galleries.

They will refuse any expansion at Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted and in the Thames estuary.

Bus routes will be restored but they is no mention of how many.

There is support for HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, East-West Rail and Crossrail 2. In addition, they will devolve Air Passenger Duty to Wales so that it is on a par with Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Plaid Cymru

They advocate the electrification of all major railway lines by 2030, re-open the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line and embark on a new cross Wales line from Porth in the north west to Pontypool in the south east.

They will improve the bus network and establish metro systems in many areas.

They want Air Passenger Duty devolved to Wales.

They would scrap HS2 and would oppose the building of the third runway at Heathrow saying that although these are English projects they have a direct impact on the other nations as well.

They will introduce a new public holiday for St David’s Day ( March 1st) in Wales, maintain free entry to museums and establish a National Museum of Contemporary Art.

At the very end of the manifest on pages 87 and 88 there is a section on tourism. The party wants to see tourism VAT on hospitality cut to 9% from 20% and it will spend more on tourism promotion. It will set up a National Academy for the Welsh tourism sector “to provide hands-on learning from apprenticeships to degree level, offering world-class vocational and professional development.”

It will also launch a Celebrate Wales year to stimulate tourism.

SNP

On page 25 of the manifesto there is just one proposal which is to call on the UK government to examine a reduction in VAT for the hospitality sector, levelling the playing field with other EU nations A further six pages on, the SNP says “we are committed to making the Highlands and Islands the world’s first net zero aviation region by 2040.”

In Northern Ireland, the DUP, (although published last week,) UUP have not yet loaded their manifestos to their websites. The SDLP says on its website that tourism is one of its priorities but says nothing else. In the manifesto of the Alliance Party I can’t remember reading anything about tourism in  the 44 page document. Sinn Fein is not included as they don’t take their seats even though they have been elected to the Hosue of Commons.

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