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Tourism Industry: Covid-19 Recovery

Volume 695: debated on Thursday 20 May 2021

What steps his Department is taking to support the tourism industry's recovery as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased. (900240)

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this timely topic ahead of English Tourism Week, which kicks off this weekend. In total, we have provided more than £25 billion already to the tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors to see them through this challenging period. With large parts of the sector now reopened, we are working with partners to champion the UK’s tourism offer through the “Escape the Everyday” marketing campaign, for example. Businesses can also benefit from the VAT cut, business rates relief and other measures. Our tourism recovery plan will set out the role that the Government will play in accelerating the tourism sector’s recovery from covid-19.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and for his excellent work in promoting this sector, an important part of which is business tourism, which is also getting going again. For example, keeping it very local, Harrogate Convention Centre will host Clarion Events’ Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival in July, and that will bring many thousands of visitors to the town. This sector of the industry is large in scale and consequently has a significant supply chain, both directly and indirectly, including, for example, hotels and guest houses in Harrogate. Will my hon. Friend assure me that he will do all he can to ensure the best restart possible for this important business sector?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right and I pay tribute to his support for the tourism sector—business tourism as well—both in his constituency and right across the country. Business events are indeed highly valuable to the UK economy, directly contributing more than £31 billion each year before the pandemic, supporting a vast supply chain and filling hotels, often in the tourist off-season. The Events Research Programme held its first business event pilot in Liverpool last month, which I was delighted to attend. That is a big step forward in our work to fully reopen the sector. Our tourism recovery plan will soon set out more detail on how we will support business events with their long-term recovery.