Skip to main content

Tourism Industry

Volume 700: debated on Thursday 16 September 2021

The Government have already provided more than £35 billion for the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors in the form of grants, loans and tax breaks throughout the pandemic. When I last spoke to the House about this, the figure was £25 billion, so there has been a considerable increase since then. As our tourism recovery plan makes clear, we will continue to support the sector’s return to pre-pandemic levels and beyond, hopefully well ahead of independent forecasts. For example, the £10 million national lottery days out campaign, to be launched next month, will stimulate demand for more off-season day trips to tourist sites across the UK this autumn and winter.

Tourism and hospitality has often been viewed as a Cinderella industry, but we know, particularly after covid-19, how vital it is not only to local economies such as mine in Hastings and Rye—of which it represents more than 30%—but to the UK economy, and also what a wide range of opportunities it offers globally. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to encourage people, particularly the young, to choose this industry as a fantastic career path?

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this topic. I know that she is passionate about the sector, having visited her fantastic constituency on a beautiful sunny day in June this year.

We recognise the importance of recovering from the pandemic with a more resilient tourism industry that will offer exciting, good-quality, well-paid jobs to young people as well as long-term careers for everyone, throughout the country. We work closely with the Tourism Industry Council to ensure that the sector is signposted to key Government initiatives such as the £2.5 billion national skills fund and the UK-wide kickstart scheme.

I thank the Minister for all the help that he has given us over the recent period. In my constituency, tourism is a key marker for economic growth, jobs, wages and so forth. May I ask the Minister what has been done in co-operation and partnership with the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in particular, to ensure that we all benefit in this great United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland—always better together?

I could not agree more with the hon. Gentleman. I had the privilege of visiting Northern Ireland this summer, and saw many tourist attractions there. We work very co-operatively with our colleagues in Northern Ireland, including, obviously, Members in this House, who I know talk passionately—as the hon. Gentleman does—about tourism and the value of tourism. Obviously, the tourism recovery plan has implications for the whole United Kingdom, although some elements are devolved, but we work closely with our Northern Ireland colleagues, and there is Northern Ireland representation on the Tourism Industry Council. They contribute significantly, and I hope that positive relationship continues.

I thank the Minister for all he has been doing over the last 18 months to support the sector, and for meeting hoteliers in my constituency this week. He will recall that, despite Cornwall’s having the busiest summer it has ever had, many hotels were operating at less than capacity because of the lack of availability of staff. As he will understand, one of the issues is accommodation, and the current limit of £58 that staff are allowed to offset on accommodation provided by their employer. Will he commit to work with me to get that figure reviewed, so that we can have a more workable solution for the future?

I thank my hon. Friend for his continued passion and support for the sector throughout the country, let alone in his own fantastic constituency, which I have also had the pleasure of visiting. Perhaps I have travelled a bit too much, although I am sure there is no such thing.

This issue was indeed raised by my hon. Friend’s constituents during the conversation that we had earlier this week, and they provided some compelling information. I make the commitment to him and his constituents that we will look very carefully at the issues raised, and that I will work across Departments to see what solutions can be found.