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Tourism: West Midlands

Volume 469: debated on Monday 10 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government have taken to promote tourism in the west midlands since 1997. (167512)

[holding answer 26 November 2007]: I have been asked to reply.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has provided the national tourism agency, VisitBritain (and its predecessor bodies), with funding since 1997 to promote Britain internationally, and England domestically, as an attractive tourist destination. The west midlands has benefited from this support for the sector, in common with the rest of the country.

From 1997-98 to 2002-03, funding passed from the English Tourist Council (ETC, formerly the English Tourist Board) to the Heart of England Tourist Board (HETB), which represented both the east and west midlands. In 2003, the regional development agencies, including Advantage West Midlands (AWM), took on strategic responsibility for tourism support in the regions. Since then, AWM has worked with partners in the region to reorganise tourism support structures, including the development of Tourism West Midlands to oversee the delivery of the West Midlands Visitor Economy Strategy, and has allocated revenue funding to the development and promotion of tourism.

AWM has led significant capital investment in tourism infrastructure and facilities through a number of funding streams, including European structural funds. Businesses in the tourism sector also benefit from access to skills and training programmes funded by the Learning and Skills Council, and business support schemes delivered through Business Link West Midlands.

In addition, DCMS has made substantial investment in heritage, arts and culture since 1997. These sectors, in addition to their intrinsic value to the nation's cultural life, benefit the visitor economy by attracting visitors.