A report outlines UK tourism policies

With the right caution, but strong in a solid and constantly growing tourism sector, the UK Government aims to increase inbound arrivals in the country by 23% by 2025, aiming for European leadership in the hotel industry through the creation of over 130,000 additional beds, 300,000 apprenticeships, a data analysis centre and increased accessibility to tourism.

According to “UK Tourism: 2020 and Beyond” published by Tourism Alliance, however, there are additional policies that should be developed to increase the performance of the sector in the country.

Sustainable tourism development
The report underlines the importance of tourism sustainability, especially in terms of the environment. Supporting initiatives such as Sustainable Aviation through the creation of a Sustainable Aviation Fuel Office would increase the UK’s leadership in this area.

Excellent services with global standards
Given the need to recruit 1.3 million workers, tourism training, as well as academic training, will have to provide language skills, soft skills and tourist reception skills.
Effective immigration policies will have to be put in place to meet the large number of qualified resources and language needs of the sector.

Business tax reform
An inefficient property tax system is getting in the way of the British travel industry, and limiting investment. As a result, certain types of activities (e.g. retail and betting) are migrating online: but this is not possible for many tourist activities, such as hotels, which are penalised.

Rethinking forms of taxation on tourists
The World Economic Forum speaks plainly: the current system of taxation makes the UK the least competitive destination in the world in terms of prices and a reduction in accommodation tax, the elimination of the airline passenger tax and the encouragement of the MICE segment to increase investment and export is proposed.

Obtaining adequate tourist facilities and support
Tourism legislation is considered obsolete and inefficient. It is proposed that VisitEngland, the English Tourist Board, be elevated to national Tourist Board, on a par with VisitScotland and Visit Wales. In this way, VisitBritain could operate internationally, promoting the destination in a unified and competitive global way.

Creating sustainable destinations
The country lacks a body responsible for promoting destinations at sub-national level. The National Tourism Board should therefore have partner DMOs, with independent access to government funds, to work together to develop and promote regional products, and to implement infrastructure that can decentralise tourist flows from the London area.

Investing in rural and maritime areas
Despite playing a key role, tourism in these areas has not yet reached its full potential due to lack of investment. It is essential to develop dedicated Strategic Plans that recognise and support its development.

ETAs to increase arrivals
The lack of homogeneity between the types of visas required to enter the country, together with the high cost of application, hinders international arrivals. The introduction of ETAs (Electronic Travel Authorisations) could improve the experience of tourists, obtaining visas quickly and easily, while increasing national security.

Developing educational tourism
Educational tourism represents a significant slice of British tourism, worth around €31 million a year (£27 million), and could develop more smoothly thanks to the creation of a dedicated body.

Preserving cultural heritage
The importance of Britain’s cultural heritage could be reinforced by an increase in the endowment of the Heritage Maintenance Funds, aimed at conserving these unique resources.

Improving the transport system
The transport and infrastructure system should become more connected to tourism, favouring the most remote areas and favouring electric means of transport, in line with the priorities of social and environmental sustainability.

Safe and legal accommodation
Following the advent of the sharing economy, it is necessary to update the regulations on the subject, so as to ensure safety and legality to national and international tourists.

At Twissen we observed that tourism in Great Britain is facing challenges caused by external factors (such as the current health emergency) and internal factors (such as the recent Brexit). Nevertheless, there is scope to maintain tourism as a thriving and profitable sector, investing in sustainability and openness to internationalisation.