Government urged to boost tourism

MORE should be done to promote rural tourism, the government has been told.

The Country Land and Business Association said the government needed to work more closely with the tourism industry to boost visitor numbers in England and Wales.

With 34,000 members who run a wide range of different tourism businesses, the association made the plea ahead of the late May Bank Holiday weekend.

It said the National Rural Tourism Partnership needs to be reformed to drive integration of the tourism sector.

CLA president Harry Cotterell said: "As one of the big holiday weekends of the year begins, we need to ask ourselves if our tourism industry is getting the support it deserves.

"Are small and medium-sized tourism businesses getting what they need from Visit England and Visit Wales?

"Is rural broadband provision sufficient for the needs of the tourism industry?

"Is there enough coordination of Destination Management Organisations, Local Enterprise Partnerships and the rural tourism sector?

"The answer to these questions is clearly no."

The CLA's views on improving rural tourism are spelled out in its recently published report, Wish You Were Here?: CLA Policy on Rural Tourism.

Mr Cotterell said the document threw down the gauntlet to the tourism industry to do more to help individual rural tourism businesses.

"We need to push for more locally sourced food at tourism sites and better signage to tourism destinations."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the government was doing all it could to promote England as a holiday destination.

A new VisitEngland campaign to encourage 'staycationers' was unveiled by tourism secretary Maria Miller earlier in May.

The Great Adventure advert aired on TV from 12 May.

It sees Aardman Animations' creations Wallace and Gromit travel up and down the UK, exploring the best of what the country has to offer to inspire more Britons to holiday in the UK.

The advert forms part of VisitEngland's award-winning Holidays at Home are Great campaign.

The £4 million campaign, led by VisitEngland and supported by the tourist boards of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, aims to raise domestic tourist spending by £80 million and encourage more than 1 million overnight stays.

It follows last year's hugely successful campaign which featured Stephen Fry and Julie Walters.

Ms Miller said: "As the UK's fifth-largest industry, tourism delivers £115 billion per year to our economy, and employs almost three million people.

"So when we increase the number of visitors from both home and abroad, and that means economic growth, jobs and success for our country.

"Not so very long ago, people would visit their travel agent and almost automatically think of a holiday in Spain, Turkey or another part of Europe.

The word 'holiday' became almost synonymous with the word 'abroad'. Holidays at Home changes that."


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