A trusted advisor to Government and industry

Supporting a Tourism Sector Deal
Keep tourism at the heart of policy
Industry leadership and advice

We make sure the economic importance of tourism is understood, briefing politicians, Government departments and media about the benefits it delivers to every nation and region. We ensure that our intelligence on markets and customer insights is widely available, informing Government policy and helping businesses of all sizes to grow and export.

Supporting a Tourism Sector Deal

treesTourism accounts for nearly £127bn to the UK economy every year. Growth continues to be strong with overall annual growth expected to be 3.8% every year up until 2025. Tourism in the UK is a thriving industry which continues to outperform forecasts, and creates jobs across the country – in every local authority. It is two and half times bigger than the automotive industry, a bigger exporter than the insurance industry and is growing faster than digital. Simply put, tourism matters to the UK economy.

However, the strength of tourism – its diversification, and the number of sectors involved – makes it complicated for Government departments to engage with and factor into decision making..

In January 2017, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published an Industrial Strategy green paper, and this presented a one-off opportunity for tourism to be recognised as an industry of the future: competing globally and backed by Government.

At the February 2017 Tourism Industry Council, an agreement was reached that the tourism sector would push for a Tourism Sector Deal. The bid was led by Steve Ridgway CBE, former CEO of Virgin Atlantic and current hotel owner, an industry leader and expert and current Chairman of the British Tourist Authority. We facilitated this by helping the industry to pull its proposals together.

Through meetings between Steve and a great number of industry leaders from across the entire sector, many practical solutions and views were collected. This was in addition to industry-led working groups which focussed on four key areas to inform the sector deal: with leading figures and organisations contributing to these to help formulate the plan being presented. Alongside this, a consultation was held for the 200,000 SMEs who account for the vast majority of the industry to ensure that all who have a stake in the sector had the opportunity to make their views heard.

In late September 2017, the core strands of the proposed Sector Deal were agreed by The Tourism Industry Council, clearing the way for the tourism sector bid to be submitted to the Government for consideration.

The British tourism industry is the strongest it has been in decades, but there is much more to do and the sector deal offers a long-term plan of where the industry could grow and how it could further benefit the economy. It also offers practical asks, some challenges to Government that need to be addressed, and some proactive, positive offers of how the industry can engage constructively with the Government in the coming years. It is the result of the industry working together over many months to ‘seize this opportunity’ to put tourism at the top of the Government’s agenda.


Keeping tourism at the heart of policy

Sally Balcome Patricia Yates interviewsIn 2016/17 we continued to influence policy and keep tourism top of mind in government decision-making, by engaging with politicians to ensure that issues affecting the sector are understood.

  • During ­English Tourism Week (ETW17) we worked to raise the profile of the industry. In collaboration with the Tourism Alliance, we hosted a parliamentary reception, where MPs met with key industry stakeholders and tourism businesses.
  • We also encouraged local MPs – including the now Tourism Minister, John Glen MP – to visit local businesses during the week. The then Tourism Minister, Tracey Crouch MP, visited three locations during ETW,  meeting representatives from tourism bodies in Plymouth and Wiltshire, to hear first-hand from the sector.
  • In January, our Director of Strategy and Communications, Patricia Yates, addressed MPs, cabinet ministers and tourism businesses at the All-Party Parliamentary China Group’s (APPCG) Chinese New Year Reception at the House of Commons.
  • We gave evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry on Rural Tourism.
  • In February, Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain/VisitEngland, appeared before the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee to discuss the implications of Brexit for UK tourism.
  • At our flagship travel trade event, ExploreGB, MPs from across England, Wales and Scotland met travel trade representatives from their constituencies. John Glen MP attended along with the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Events Industry, James Heappey MP.
Press and PR coverage across a range of domestic and international activity
Examples of Newsletters
Our fortnightly industry enewsletter reaches over 13K subscribers
MP engagement
MP engagement during English Tourism Week and ExploreGB on Twitter

Industry leadership and advice

As well as being the Government’s expert on tourism, we also provide vital leadership and research to help the industry grow.

We recognise that realising Britain’s growth potential is not the job of just one organisation. So, we have continued to strengthen relationships with destination management organisations across England and our strategic partners: the national tourist boards for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London.

A structured programme of regular engagement - including the British Marketing Board, the Strategy Directors and six expert-to-expert working groups - ensures that we continue to cooperate effectively and build a shared agenda to address and respond to common issues affecting tourism.

With our strategic partners, we have developed a new high-level marketing plan for Britain which identifies how the national tourism boards can work together to deliver sustainable growth in the volume and value of inbound tourism, leisure tourism and business events.

We also chair a number of industry groups and bodies. Our quarterly meetings with the Welcome to Britain Group ensure government, tourist boards and industry stakeholders collaborate to give visitors the best possible first impression of Britain. In addition, the British Tourism Industry Group (BTIG) brings policymakers, industry and tourism bodies together to discuss key sector issues.

Strengthening partnerships with English destination management organisations, we organised several engagement sessions around the country: providing updates on the Discover England Fund as well as running two English Destinations Forum as a platform for exchanging information on strategic national and local tourism issues among destinations and other key industry players. Two newly created Rural and Coastal steering groups will ensure that the issues affecting these destinations are represented and encourage closer collaboration across the English tourism landscape.


Keeping the industry informed

Our dedicated industry website is a one-stop shop on English and British tourism for the industry, providing a wealth of official statistics and other market research and resources:

These materials enable the sector to adapt and grow and our has had over 1.2 million visits between October 2016 and August 2017.

We produced a regular industry newsletter, distributing it to over 13,000 recipients in 2016/17. Together we reached thousands of individuals and organisations through our Twitter and LinkedIn channels,

Our corporate/industry PR continued to position us as the go to experts on tourism matters – shaping the national media narrative by regularly communicating the value of tourism to the economy and raising the profile of the industry. Over 6,000 articles featured in the national, trade and international press – covering a range of our activities tas well as the latest tourism news.  

Finally, we facilitated the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group (TIER), which provided a coordinated response following the terror attacks in London and Manchester; including coordinating media lines to make it clear Britain and its attractions remained open for business, and providing coordinated impact assessment to government.

  • Inbound tourism into Britain is due to grow at 3.8 per cent every year until 2025
  • Tourism supports 3.1 million jobs and contributes 9% of UK GDP annually
  • In 2016/17 we produced 20 in-depth Destination Reports revealing visitor perceptions of key tourism locations in England
  • 13,000 people receive our dedicated industry newsletter
  • VisitBritain’s LinkedIn page provides industry news and insight to 15,510 followers (update on 1 October)
  • Our industry website achieved over 1.2 million unique page views between October 2016 and August 2017
  • The #ETW17 hashtag was tweeted more than 13,000 times and achieved 125 million impressions
"We make sure the economic importance of tourism is understood, briefing politicians, Government departments and media about the benefits it delivers to every nation and region."