£40m fund launched to draw tourists outside London - Museums Association

£40m fund launched to draw tourists outside London

Government publishes action plan to boost tourism across UK
Profile image for Geraldine Kendall Adams
Geraldine Kendall Adams
The Westminster government is hoping to boost regional tourism across England with a £40m fund that will enable organisations and partnerships to create joined-up offers for tourists.

Administered by VisitEngland, the Discover England fund will invest in different geographic areas with the aim of attracting visitors outside London, which currently benefits from more than 50% of the UK’s international visitor spend.

The first seven recipients of funding were announced last week. Grants of up to £250,000 were handed out to projects including Telling the Stories of England, a plan to create themed, narrative-based tour itineraries for the American market taking in cultural and historic venues across England.

The next round of funding, which will invest grants of at least £1m in large-scale collaborative projects, is now open for applications. Expressions of interest should be logged by the end of October this year.

Alongside the fund, the government has launched a five-point Tourism Action Plan to boost tourism across the UK and ensure the industry continues to thrive, particularly while Brexit negotiations take place.
Measures include the development of an overarching industrial strategy for tourism in collaboration with relevant government departments and tourism ministers in the devolved nations, so that the UK can strengthen its collective offer to visitors.
There are also plans to create joined-up train itineraries that will enable tourists to travel easily around the UK, as well as cutting red tape so that B&Bs can offer welcome drinks and train station pick-ups to visitors.

The action plan cites a target to create 3m tourism apprenticeships in England by 2020 to boost jobs and skills in the sector.
The government will also make visa systems more accessible and welcoming to overseas tourists, as well as capping visa fee rises at 2% per annum for the duration of the current parliament.  

In a foreword to the action plan, the prime minister Theresa May wrote: “The British people’s decision to leave the European Union creates many great opportunities for growth, such as cutting red tape and forging partnerships in new and developing markets.

“Together with industry, the government will work to ensure that tourism continues to thrive as negotiations on the UK’s exit progress. The end goal is a Britain that is even more attractive, accessible and welcoming to visitors.”

The culture secretary Karen Bradley said: “I look forward to helping further strengthen tourism outside London to ensure that growth from the sector is enjoyed right across the whole country.”

UK tourism enjoyed a successful year in 2015, attracting 36.1m visits by overseas residents, a rise of more than 5% on the previous year.

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