At a speech in London today, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to support the UK’s third largest export earner – Tourism. This is an important sector for Brighton & Hove supporting 15,000 jobs and bringing in £500m to the local economy.
David Cameron outlined four elements that affect the tourism sector:
- what government does nationally
- the role of local government and the support of the local area.
- how the private sector in tourism is stimulated
- policy in other areas that will impact the tourism industry.
In the speech he suggested that the current business rates system fails to support the development of tourism, adding that; “If a local council does more to attract tourists to its area they know they’ll be picking up costs but they’ll get none of the additional business rate revenue. Central government sucks in 100 per cent of this revenue generated by all local economic growth.”
“Local authorities must be allowed to invest some of this back into their own communities. This wouldn’t just help tourism – it would help all sectors of local industry across our country. And it’s a vital part of how we can begin to rebalance our economy”. It is uncertain whether 'investment in local communities'means into tourism businesses directly or the wider community, or whether the reference to retaining local business rates heralds a long term future for the Local Authority Business Growth Incentive [LABGI] scheme.
He listed a number of ways that the government intended to help tourism including stopping the removal of the tax breaks on furnished holiday lettings, working more closely with international partners to improve the local delivery of visa services in key markets like China and India and the new £1bn Regional Growth Fund which the industry could bid into for innovative projects.
He also suggested that there was plenty of scope for improvement in other areas e.g. “the speed of our broadband to the speed of our railways to the time it takes to clear customs at Heathrow”
Tourism & Heritage Minister John Penrose has been tasked to produce a tourism strategy by the end of this year in anticipation of a tourism bonanza for the London 2012 Olympics and other sporting events after that.
David Cameron ended his speech with a pledge to raise the UK into the top five tourist destinations in the world. It currently ranks 24th.
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