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Volume 572: debated on Thursday 12 December 2013

Tourism is at the heart of the Government’s growth agenda. It is one of the largest export industries in the UK. It helps to rebalance our economy, generates investment and creates jobs, and it is at the centre of the country’s economic recovery.

Derwent Valley Mills is a world heritage site that extends throughout my constituency and beyond, but families currently have nowhere to take their children so that they can cycle safely between the mills. I have set up a cycling group, which is considering the possibility of putting a cycling track well away from the traffic to make it safe. How can the Secretary of State help me to ensure—in conjunction with the Olympic legacy—that children are encouraged to keep active, while also being able to enjoy a piece of history?

Through that excellent local initiative, my hon. Friend has demonstrated that culture and sport are never too far apart, and I commend her for the work she has done. The integrated transport block grant that local authorities receive for small transport improvement schemes, including cycling schemes, is potentially an important source of funding for the project in her constituency, as it enables local authorities to come up with the solutions that are most suitable for their areas and for projects of that kind.

Next year, 2014, will mark the 1,100th anniversary of the great town of Warwick. It will be a year of celebrations. You will, of course, be very welcome to attend those celebrations, Mr Speaker, and I am sure that many other people will want to visit the town. Will the Secretary of State—who will also be very welcome—tell us what policies are being drawn up to support towns such as Warwick, where tourism plays such an important part in our local economy?

My hon. Friend is right. Warwick castle is a great attraction in the area, and, having visited the town as a child and, more recently, with my own children, I know that it is a great place to visit.

Our tourism figures are strong at the moment, and the Government are continuing to invest in both VisitBritain and VisitEngland. We want to ensure that people from outside the country not only come to London, but travel beyond the capital to places such as Warwick. We are also encouraging more people in this country to spend holidays at home, and VisitEngland is doing well in that respect too.

As a woman of taste and refinement, does the Secretary of State agree that Huddersfield is the jewel in the crown of God’s own county of Yorkshire, not least because its university has been named university of the year? Does she agree that it is about time Huddersfield, Yorkshire and the north of England in general benefited from a fair share of tourism activity, especially as we shall be on the Tour de France route?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. We are linking the various parts of our departmental brief, because sport can be a great way of increasing tourism. The Tour de France, and the Government’s investment in it, will ensure that more people are able to experience the joys of Yorkshire, and can visit places such as the Yorkshire sculpture park while they are there.

One of the major tourist attractions next year in the United Kingdom will be the Commonwealth games. The games will take place in Glasgow, but there will be further events in Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland. Although nearly all the tickets have been sold, I am sure that the atmosphere in Glasgow, Edinburgh and elsewhere will be as exciting as the atmosphere in London during the 2012 Olympics. What are the Government doing to encourage people in the rest of the United Kingdom to visit Scotland during the games, so that everyone can benefit from that wonderful experience?

As the hon. Gentleman says, the Commonwealth games will serve as a great hook to encourage more people to visit Scotland. However, there will also be the golf and festivals to encourage people to get additional value out of their visits. During November alone there were nearly 3 million visits to the UK, 10% more than in the same month last year. We are doing important work through VisitBritain, the Scottish Government and VisitScotland to encourage more people to visit not just London but the United Kingdom as a whole, and I think we shall see great success in the months and years to come.