The response highlighted the importance of institutions like the Bowes Museum in Durham to their communities

Museums are vital to rural tourism, MPs told

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 21.09.2016
Response to rural tourism inquiry urges continued public investment
Museums in rural and coastal locations play a “critical role” in the tourist economy, MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) select committee have been told.
The committee is undertaking an inquiry into the role of tourism in supporting rural growth. In a joint response to the inquiry by the Museums Association, the National Museum Directors’ Council and the Association of Independent Museums, the committee was given evidence of the impact museums have on rural areas.

The response described how museums make a place attractive to live in and work in and bring both direct and indirect employment to an area, as well as drawing in overnight visitors and attracting tourists in both high and low seasons.  

It outlined the “unique and distinctive” character that museums bring to a place, as well as their role in supporting festivals and event tourism.

However, the response said that rural museums were not "assured for the future", with local authority budget cuts set to have a "serious impact on the future vitality of the museum sector".

The response urged the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to work with local authorities and museum sector bodies to promote the role of tourism and museums in local economic planning, ensure continued public investment and remove “unnecessary barriers to enterprise”.
It also recommended changes to infrastructure such as public transport, high speed broadband and signage, to enable museums to maximise their potential.

It called for the creation of a “funding and tax regime which reflects the logistical challenges and day-to-day reality of operating charitable museum enterprises in rural areas”.
The MA’s policy officer Alistair Brown said: “Museums make a really important contribution in attracting visitors to rural areas – but at present many are under-used and under-promoted. I hope that the Efra committee takes this message on board and puts museums at the heart of their recommendations on rural tourism.”


Joint submission to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Rural Tourism (pdf)