The Government have secured hosting rights, I am pleased to say, for a number of major sporting events. That includes the cricket world cup next year, Euro 2020 matches and the Birmingham Commonwealth games in 2022. We will use national and local tourism agencies to ensure that we take advantage of all opportunities.
Rugby, the birthplace of the game, is proud that its visitor attraction, the World Rugby Hall of Fame, not only hosts an annual ceremony to induct the greats of the game but is a popular attraction for visitors from both home and rugby-playing nations around the world, with 18,000 visitors already. How is the Minister’s tourism strategy supporting such attractions? Will he accept an invitation to visit the World Rugby Hall of Fame?
I would be delighted to do so. My hon. Friend is quite right to draw the House’s attention to the World Rugby Hall of Fame, which is one of the many excellent attractions in the United Kingdom. There was William Webb Ellis, of course— no relation, which may surprise you, Mr Speaker. The Government are committed to boosting UK tourism, particularly outside London, and the Discover England fund does that. I would be very happy to visit or to meet my hon. Friend at any time.
The sports Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), and I do care a great deal about this, as does the Secretary of State. The reality is that we want to get as many events as possible outside London and across the country. We are always looking to do that, and we continue to do so.
Mr Speaker, if you were to attend the Astwood Bank carnival on 15 July, you would see the sport of Viking fighting and horseman stunts being contested on the field. This brings in 5,000 people from all over Worcestershire. Does the Minister agree with me that these local events are very important for our communities? Will he congratulate the organisers, and what more will he do to ensure their success?
My constituency is famous for its sport and for its sporting venues. We would love more sports tourism, but the failure of the Government to invest in the redevelopment of our railway station, the dreadful service on the Great Western Railway main line from London and the refusal to devolve air passenger duty are preventing an increase in sports tourism. What is the Minister going to do to persuade his Cabinet colleagues to sort this out?
Actually, huge investment—an unprecedented amount—has gone into the railways. Our tourism figures are up—they are up vastly on previous years—and they continue to rise, so I do not accept the premise of the hon. Lady’s question. We work very hard to encourage as much tourism as possible, including sports tourism.