The Government has announced a Tourism Sector Deal to boost tourism across the UK – and Greater Lincolnshire is in a strong position to be chosen as the location for one of the new Tourism Zones.
The deal announced recently by the Prime Minister Theresa May has been welcomed by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Visit Lincoln.
It will prepare Britain for an extra nine million visitors per year and makes a commitment to build 130,000 new hotel rooms by 2025.
It will create a new Tourism Data Hub to allow businesses to better target overseas visitors and it will support the creation of 10,000 additional apprenticeships for people building their careers in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
Up to five new Tourism Zones will deliver a direct boost to holiday destinations across the country, helping to create new jobs and support improvements to transport connections.
Tourism Zones will receive Government support for growing their local visitor economy through initiatives like targeted support for product and promotion development, mentoring support to businesses and digital skills training.
Ruth Carver, Director of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, said: “Tourism is a vital component of the Greater Lincolnshire economy and an area that has been growing strongly in recent years.
“Between 2012 and 2017 our tourism sector increased in value by nearly one-third; the Greater Lincolnshire visitor economy is currently estimated to be worth over £2.24 billion per year and supports over 39,000 jobs.
“The LEP and Visit Lincoln welcome this Government initiative, which will support us in our commitment to maintain this strong growth.
“We understand the Government is planning up to five pilot Tourism Zones and we strongly believe that Greater Lincolnshire should be one of them. We are already talking to local partners and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) about bidding for a zone and we very much hope for a successful outcome.”
Lydia Rusling, Chief Executive of Visit Lincoln, says the deal will benefit tourism businesses in Greater Lincolnshire, which wants a Tourism Zone of its own.
“As a leading tourism organisation we feel privileged to be working with the LEP on supporting a Tourism Sector Deal, ensuring it will drive growth and support accessibility across the industry, as well as championing talent and skills for the visitor economy across Greater Lincolnshire,” she said.
“Greater Lincolnshire has a unique opportunity to transform its tourism offer now by bringing together the right people who can make the biggest difference. We will use creativity and digital innovation across Greater Lincolnshire to give sustainable solutions not only to people who are currently working in the industry, but also to entrepreneurs who are looking to start new businesses here.
“Working with the public sector, the LEP and private tourism businesses we will deliver economic growth – not just in increased visitor numbers and pounds spent, but also on the wider social value that Visit Lincoln’s work produces.”
Councillor Colin Davie, Executive Member for Economy and Place at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “I’ll be pushing the Government to make Greater Lincolnshire one of its new Tourism Zones.
“We’re working hard to attract even more visitors, and over the last couple of years we’ve dramatically improved what we have to offer. As a result, not only has the number of day visitors increased, but we’re also seeing people staying for longer.
“And although August remains our busiest month, October and March have seen the largest increases in visitor numbers. That suggests our efforts to extend the traditional tourist season, with new attractions like the North Sea Observatory, are paying off.
“And with the Mayflower 400 celebrations in 2020 and much more on the horizon, I’m confident our tourism economy will continue to thrive in the years to come.
“The Government’s new Tourism Sector Deal is the ideal opportunity to build on that momentum.”