Some advice for the government on their new tourism policy pt.1

Posted on January 10, 2011


There will be a new tourism policy launched by the UK government at some point in the next few months.  This will supersede ‘Winning: a strategy for 2012 and beyond’, an artefact of the previous administration, and will complement the new tourism framework that is being produced by Visit Britain.  You can see the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, talking about this in this video:

Most coalition policy so far has been put together at speed, based as it is on a document written in haste to cement a coalition between two parties with, at the time, very different agendas.  I’m hearing rumours however, that ministers and officials are now beginning to devote more time to meetings and consultation and that there is an acknowledgement at a high level that ministers need to invest more time in developing policies with depth and buy-in from the people and organisations that they affect.   This may explain the long delay between David Cameron’s very early announcement that tourism would be a key industry in the recovery and the eventual production of a policy to support this aspiration.  Let’s hope so. 

Tourism policy in the UK has often fallen between departments and has meant that the tourism industry has often struggled to be heard in the cacophony of industry voices expecting to have the ear of government.  A strong policy statement on tourism, supported by departmental commitments would help to position tourism in the public eye and help organisations and individuals working the industry to contribute to the growth that our economy so desperately needs.   When Labour came to power in 1997 on a wave of Cool Brittania excitement, it was clear that they were championing the cultural and creative industries, which had a galvanizing effect on that sector, which saw employment growth, led by creative industries exports and underpinned by state support for training, networking and promotion of creative producers.   This government’s new tourism policy should be equally bold – situating tourism as a key industry for sustainable economic growth and championing the success stories of UK tourism to domestic and international markets. 

My next few posts on this blog are going to be suggestions for where the state can intervene effectively in the tourism industry to support entrepreneurial, sustainable growth, led-by SMEs in the  private sector, but supported by an enabling state.