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Volume 593: debated on Thursday 26 February 2015

6. What steps he has taken to promote tourism and develop the tourism industry throughout England. (907745)

We have invested a total of £10 million in VisitEngland’s Holidays at Home are GREAT campaign, with the fourth campaign launching this spring. VisitEngland is also promoting and developing domestic tourism through its Growing Tourism Locally campaign.

My constituency enjoys a vibrant tourist economy that includes Royal Lytham & St Annes golf club, Lytham music festival and Ribby Hall village, to name but a few. What steps is the Minister taking to promote further tourism investment growth in the north-west?

The Government have recently announced £10 million of funding for tourism in the north of England, which is very good news for my hon. Friend’s constituency, the wider north-west and tourism across the north of England. We hope that the agreed project will commence this April.

I do not know why that question was not grouped with Questions 12 and 13—these people are sometimes a law unto themselves—but if the Members who tabled those questions wish to come in, they are welcome to do so.

12. Today the civic buildings and street lamps across Rugby are festooned with dressing for the rugby world cup, which will be held later this year, celebrating Rugby’s status as the home of the game. During the tournament, visitors will be able to visit a fan zone and see where it all started back in 1823. Does the Minister agree that people coming to this, the third largest sporting event, provides a valuable economic opportunity not only to Rugby, but to venues across the UK? (907752)

Yes, I absolutely agree. These major sporting events are absolutely fabulous for the economy and for tourism, and of course they inspire people to participate in sport.

13. May I thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for recently meeting a delegation from Plymouth to discuss Mayflower 400, which of course is about commemorating the founding of the American colonies and will hopefully boost our tourist economy? What support might the Department be able to give this really historic event down in Devon in 2020? (907753)

It will be a marvellous event, and I know that my hon. Friend has been fully involved in the programme, which will be fabulous for tourism. I am pleased to announce today additional funding of £35,000 for the city’s Mayflower museum, which will help to ensure a strong legacy for the celebrations. [Interruption.] We hope to be able to offer further support for the programme in due course.

The hon. Member for Colchester (Sir Bob Russell) is chuntering from a sedentary position, to no obvious benefit or purpose, but no doubt we will be enlightened later.

What assessment has the Minister made of the much greater contribution tourism could make to the economy were VAT on tourism to be reduced, which is something that all but three countries in the EU have been able to deliver?

VAT is a matter that is constantly raised with me, but it is one for the Chancellor. He keeps all taxes under review, and I am sure that he will keep this one under review too. The hon. Gentleman might like to know that I am holding a round-table meeting on VAT with the industry in the next two weeks.

Mr Speaker, I was merely observing that the Mayflower commenced its journey to America from Harwich and merely stopped off at Plymouth en route.

I think that question was rhetorical, but if the Minister particularly wishes to respond she may.