Does DCMS do anything for tourism?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Last week, I vented my spleen about the CAA and how many see it as not representing consumers that travel. I also wonder about how the government treats tourism.

Time for some joined up thinking. Image — Musée Rodin

yes, you may not know it but there is a government department responsible for tourism and, therefore, indirectly, the travel industry. It is the ridiculously named Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport or DCMS. I won’t tell you what it is known as amongst writers!

What is it for?

You might think that such a long winded title says it all about its role.

The official government website says that the “DCMS helps to drive growth, enrich lives and promote Britain abroad.”

It goes on to say “We protect and promote our cultural and artistic heritage and help businesses and communities to grow by investing in innovation and highlighting Britain as a fantastic place to visit. We help to give the UK a unique advantage on the global stage, striving for economic success.”

Eagle-eyed readers might have spotted that tourism isn’t mentioned by name but just obliquely. Maybe the person who wrote this doesn’t know that tourism is part of the department!

The DCMS has 45 agencies that are connected to the department and just two of these – Visit Britain and Visit England – are connected to tourism. Yes, you might say, but tourism is devolved so there are tourism ministers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

All true but their roles are to generate domestic tourism not international tourism and certainly not to specifically take an interest in UK nationals abroad

Although the cabinet minister is responsible, there is a junior minister tasked with the tourism brief. Since 2010 there have been ten different ministers in the ten years if we include David Evennett who provided maternity cover for Tracey Crouch, the then tourism minister. In the same period there have been nine cabinet ministers with overall control over tourism.

But these ministers have other responsibilities as well. The current minister, Nigel Huddleston, is also responsible for the lotteries, gaming, sport and heritage as well as tourism. And he is a government whip as well so he has outside responsibilities.

Can anyone get an understanding of their departments over such a short amount of time especially if that person has four almost separate roles?

Why is tourism even in the DCMS?

Wouldn’t it be better situated in the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy? Would it be better in Transport since it is inextricably linked with travel? Without the infrastructure for travel, tourism suffers. A new department for Transport and Tourism perhaps?

Should it be part of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) as that issues travel advice which impacts on whether we go abroad or not?

The DCMS certainly hasn’t been helped a great deal in the last few months with just a few announcements about funding possibilities and little thought on how tourism might survive. What am I saying. It doesn’t seem to have done much in years if nor decades other than make noises about how valuable tourism is.

If anything it seems to be taking the role of the ostrich in the sand! All the the announcements that have mattered to travellers have come from Transport or the FCO.

The time has come to unify and create a tourism and travel department which incudes the travel advisory service and passport departments from the FCO and the Home Office. Maybe then and only then can tourism and travel be seen to be taken seriously by government.

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