The value of tourism to the UK economy could double to £268 billion by 2025 if the government tackles “long-term structural” problems such as transport, according to industry leaders.
A record 40 million people visited the UK in the 12 months to August and is worth £130 billion a year, despite fears that inbound tourists would be put off by Brexit.
The heads of more than 40 organisations, including tourism sector leader Steve Ridgway, Heathrow, Manchester Airports Group and Cox & Kings, are urging the government to make tourism a key part of its industrial strategy.
“We have shown that tourism could be worth £268 billion by 2025. We want to continue to compete globally as a world-class destination for visitors, boosting economic growth across the whole of Britain,” they said in a letter to The Times published today (Monday).
The letter, which was also signed by the bosses of Belfast City and Birmingham airports, called for the creation of special tourism zones in areas where local leaders would improve transport links and extend tourism seasons.
VisitBritan and VisitEngland chief Ridgway, a former chief executive of Virgin Atlantic who is leading the bid to get the special recognition that other sectors enjoy, warned that it would founder without government support to improve infrastructure.
“We want tourism to be a key part of the industrial strategy and call on the government to back our plan,” the letter said.