None of us living in Cornwall and the Isles
of Scilly need to be told how important tourism is to our economy – around a
quarter of our jobs are tourism based, and the sector gives a great
introduction to the world of work to many of our young people. Each year around 4.5 million people vote with
their feet for Cornwall as the UK’s favourite place to stay, and another 14
million visitors come on day trips – all told that’s £2 billion coming into
Cornwall every year.
One of the LEP’s jobs is to champion
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly when the government in London is setting
policies, and we worked hard to influence the Tourism Sector Deal that was
announced recently by the Prime Minister.
Sector Deals are how this government
focuses investment of money and time into growing businesses and creating jobs,
so it was really important that we got a good deal for Cornwall.
And overall, we were pleased with the
announcement. The big news was that the government
will support a number of the things we’ve been pushing for:
- Investment in a Tourism Data Hub – this will give access to bang up to date information about trends and spends, so our tourism businesses know precisely what visitors, especially international visitors, are looking for.
- Investment in apprenticeships, so more of our young people will be able to build careers in the high skill, high pay parts of the tourism sector.
- Help to provide more hotel rooms – especially useful to attract business and conference visitors during quieter times of year.
- Investment in accessibility, so everyone can enjoy holidays here – Britain has been lagging behind on providing facilities for people with different abilities or disabilities.
But there’s still work for us to do, and we’ll need the whole region to pull together, and all our MPs to do their bit in pushing for a fair deal. The government announced the creation of five Tourism Zones to drive visitor numbers across the country, with targeted extra support for small businesses – it’d be outrageous if the UK’s top tourism destination missed out on this!
We’re also calling for the government to pass more of the budgets it hands to London-based organisations like Visit Britain straight to Cornwall – we think we can attract more overseas visitors if we’re given the means to get on with it ourselves. And we’re calling for the creation of a national centre of excellence to train the very brightest and best for careers in tourism, and to enable the UK to beat off stiff competition from France and Italy to attract millions of new global travellers from fast growing economies like China and India. What a great opportunity for the whole UK to benefit from Cornwall’s expertise.
Tourism is one of the big economic growth opportunities that the LEP is championing. Let’s hope the government understands this and supports us to do what we do best.