Government launches UK Tourism Recovery Plan

The government has launched a Tourism Recovery Plan to boost the domestic and inbound sectors, with the aim of speeding up the industry’s recovery by a year.

The plan targets a recovery in domestic tourism to pre-pandemic levels by 2022 and in international tourism by 2023 – both a year in advance of non-government forecasts.

New government initiatives include a £10 million National Lottery ‘Days Out’ scheme of vouchers to support attractions and a new rail pass to encourage domestic breaks.

The voucher scheme will launch this autumn to encourage trips beyond the peak summer season, with National Lottery players given the chance to claim vouchers to redeem at attractions between September 2021 and March 2022.

A rail pass for ‘staycationers’ will also launch later this year based on the BritRail pass marketed to international visitors through VisitBritain.

In addition, the plan promises “a new focus” on technology and data, with the government committed to explore how tourism data collected at the border can support the sector and pledged to create a tourism data hub to track consumer trends in travel and inform policy and marketing.

The government also promises a Sustainable Tourism Plan later this year to look at measures to reduce tourism’s impact on the environment and to balance the needs of communities with the economic benefits of tourism.

The plan will build on investments already underway, such as the England Coast Path, and will take in “a root and branch review” of how tourism is funded at regional and local levels which is due to report this summer.

The government will also consult on a Tourist Accommodation Registration Scheme in England which will “consider the benefits of short term holiday rentals” and their “impact on local economies and communities”.

The plan notes that before the pandemic England was on course to hit 100 million domestic overnight trips in 2020 and in 2019 41 million international visitors came to the UK, spending more than £28 billion.

It reports £19 million has been earmarked for marketing campaigns to promote cities and towns across the country and a £5.5 million domestic campaign is already underway.

Announcing the plan, tourism minister Nigel Huddleston described the sector as “one of our country’s greatest assets” and said: “The Tourism Recovery Plan is our blueprint for how the sector can build back better from the pandemic, faster than forecasts predict.

“It’s been a challenging year for the tourism sector, especially for our cities, but they stand ready to welcome visitors and I encourage everyone to rediscover the UK’s fantastic tourism offer.”

Lord Patrick McLoughlin, chairman of VisitBritain and VisitEngland, welcomed the Tourism Recovery Plan as “an important step on the road to recovery, recognising the economic potential of the sector [and] setting a clear policy direction”.

He said: “Our spending review bid this year will seek to support the plan’s ambitions.”

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls described the plan as “hugely positive” suggesting it would “not only expedite hospitality’s recovery but also the national recovery post Covid-19”.

Michael Hirst, chairman of the Events Industry Board, said: “Meetings and conferences, exhibitions and trade shows are crucial to the UK’s recovery.  We’re delighted to see this recognised within the Recovery Plan which includes expansion of VisitBritain’s support programmes.”

Airbnb general manager for Northern Europe Amanda Cupples added: “Airbnb is preparing for the travel rebound of the century. We want to work with the government to help everyone benefit.

“We’ve worked with communities across the UK on proposals for a tourism accommodation register and are delighted to see the government take this forward.”

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