Northern tourism bosses call for government support

Leaders from across tourist boards across northern England have asked ministers to support the recovery of the inbound tourism sector and lift remaining travel restrictions.

Their requests come in a letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps and culture secretary Nadine Dorries.

They highlight how northern England had 5.3 million inbound tourists in 2019, creating a combined total expenditure of £2.6 billion.

The tourism leaders expect the latest easing of travel restrictions will boost inbound consumer confidence but they also ask the government to recognise the impact of the remaining curbs.

Their letter says ministers should use the January Review of the international travel framework to “implement fundamental change and create and communicate a clear system and roadmap, so inbound passengers have the confidence to book international travel in advance”.

It also asks for support “to promote that the UK is fully open for business and welcomes international visitors” and to “respond to the long-term damage that has been inflicted on the travel sector by providing direct, targeted support to recover our inbound markets through our gateway airports, inbound travel operators and destination marketing organisations (DMOs)”.

Sheona Southern, managing director at Marketing Manchester, said: “Every day that restrictions remain in place represents another dent in consumer and business confidence, along with damaging the long-term recovery of the inbound tourism market at what is a vital time of year for forward bookings.

“Tourism as a sector has doubled globally between 2010 and 2020, yet even in this period the UK tourism sector grew at a slower pace and has continued to lose market share, especially as competition from new destinations has increased with support from their respective governments.

“Now, following the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK and destinations like Greater Manchester are facing a huge uphill battle to kickstart the inbound visitor market, which is already behind the curve and suffering issues with negative perceptions.

“We must act now and ensure that we do not miss the opportunity to fast track our economic recovery by encouraging an uplift in international arrivals in 2022.”

Karen Smart, managing director at Manchester airport, commented: “We fully support calls from our region’s DMOs to set out a framework for lifting the remaining restrictions, including testing on arrival, which will do a great deal to restore consumer confidence.”

The letter to government has been coordinated by Marketing Manchester and co-signed by leaders from Welcome to Yorkshire, Marketing Cheshire, Cumbria Tourism, Marketing Peak District and Derbyshire, Marketing Lancashire, Visit County Durham, Visit Leeds, Make it York, Marketing Liverpool, Newcastle/Gateshead Initiative and Northumbria Tourism.

Pictured: View from St Peters Square, Manchester. Credit: Marketing Manchester

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