Monday, 03 October 2016 05:15

Tourism set to soar over next decade

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Tourism set to soar over next decade

THE English tourism sector is set to grow by nearly 3% every year over the next decade, suggests a study.

Research commissioned by the Local Government Association shows that domestic tourism is predicted to grow 2.9% every year over the next decade – more than the overall economy at 2.5%.

The LGA said local areas could use the devolution agenda to turn their counties into thriving tourist hotspots for the growing 'staycation' market and overseas visitors.

It follows latest industry figures which reveal there were 103m overnight trips in England in 2015, an 11% increase compared to 2014, with a total spend of £19.6 billion.

This is an 8% increase in expenditure compared to 2014.

The findings are contained in an LGA report called Local Solutions - Boosting the Visitor Economy.

Regions which saw the biggest increases in overnight trips include the West Midlands (+22%), Yorkshire (+20%) and the South West (+14%), as well as London (+14%).

The LGA said local authorities were already enjoying huge economic returns on investment in tourism through ambitious projects.

They include Staffordshire County Council, which has adopted a new strategic approach to sport, dubbed "Sportshire", which is is paying dividends for tourism.

Alongside the UK Corporate Games, a three-year contract secured by the council to host the long-distance Ironman triathlon attracted 16,000 visitors and £5.4m to the area in 2015.

The LGA said the association was is urging the government to keep up the momentum on agreeing devolution proposals to further boost tourism-led growth.

A recently announced tourism action plan was a step in the right direction, it said, but much more could be done to put the levers of growth in the hands of local leaders.

Councillor Ian Stephens, of the LGA's culture, tourism and sport board, said the tourist economy was one of the UK's fastest growing economic sectors

"Councils have long recognised, and supported, the value of tourism to local growth, jobs and prosperity, which the devolution agenda should be primed to exploit," he said.

"Councils have the opportunity to align their devolved responsibilities to improve their tourism offer to best showcase their unique identity and heritage."

Tourism could be based around a range of activities and attractions – from food and drink and natural landscape to historic buildings and traditional festivals.

Councils could also use devolution deals to improve transport, infrastructure, skills and business support, which were crucial levers to maximise tourism and economic growth.

"There is significant growth potential from tourism and our analysis highlights an opportunity for increasing staycations in order to close the UK's large tourism deficit."

By creating the wider conditions for the visitor economy to thrive, local communities also benefited from a successful local visitor economy, said councillor Stephens.

"The Government needs to keep up the momentum on agreeing devolution proposals to further boost tourism-led growth and transform local economies."

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