The journey to achieve a Tourism Sector Deal

The Tourism Sector Deal represents more than two years of hard work, commitment and determination from the tourism industry which came together with one voice. The below details the journey we took to reach the deal. 

In answer to the ask by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright the industry came together to build consensus on ideas for the future and offering commitments that align with the five key pillars of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy. Read how tourism will deliver against the five pillars.

In November 2018, the Government announced they will be entering into an official negotiation with the tourism industry for a tourism sector deal, to attract more domestic and overseas visitors and help drive major economic growth.

Recognising the tourism industry as one of the UK’s most successful exports, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright called upon the industry to respond with a renewed commitment to promote its offer throughout the year, not just in the peak summer months, and increase clear career paths.

The sector was asked to look at the key themes of:

  • Making tourism and hospitality a career for life
  • Making the UK the most accessible tourism industry in the world
  • Sharing industry data to identify growth opportunities in new and emerging markets
  • Increasing accommodation capacity

In September 2017, the Tourism Industry Council signed off on the following priorities:

  • A 10-year tourism and hospitality skills campaign to boost recruitment, skills and long-term careers providing the industry with the workforce it needs; 
  • Boosting productivity by extending the tourism season year-round and increasing global market share in the business visits and events sector; 
  • Improve connections to increase inbound visits from more markets by 2030 by making it easier for overseas and domestic visitors to not only travel to the UK but explore more of it; 
  • Creating ‘tourism zones’ to build quality tourism products that meet visitors needs and expectations, extending the tourism season and fixing localised transport issues to improve the visitor experience.

VisitBritain pulled together the formalised submission document (PDF 14.5KB). Whilst not every idea was included in the process, Steve Ridgway was clear that there are a number of key areas that the Government needs to continue to understand and these are areas that may well be taken forward separately.

In January 2017, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published an Industrial Strategy green paper. At the February Tourism Industry Council, a group set up to collaborate between government and the tourism industry, 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, in line with other sector deals. The bid was facilitated by VisitBritain/VisitEngland who helped the industry pull together its proposals.

As part of the industry-led process, the government stipulated that those sectors with the broadest reach, and ability to speak with “one voice” are the likeliest to achieve a sector deal. We reached out in particular to the 200,000+ small businesses in all the sectors that make up our vibrant tourism industry. More than 450 businesses and organisations fed into a consultation process to help shape the final outcomes of the submission.