The UK was one of the first countries to remove the barriers to both domestic and international visitors, and set out a post-covid tourism recovery plan in summer 2021. An inter-ministerial group for the visitor economy was formed this year, and will meet again in December to discuss cross-departmental policy priorities in support of this important sector.
With the axe looming over the English National Opera and the Donmar Warehouse—both national attractions that have helped the tourism the Minister has described to be a multibillion-pound industry for so many years—and local newbies such as the Ealing Project venue and ActOne cinema facing a tough environment with the post-covid footfall downturn and looming bills, could the Government, now that they are in reset mode, reconsider the impact of Arts Council cuts on London so that we can get tourism flowing through our capital again, from centre to suburb?
The Arts Council is an arm’s length body; it makes the decisions and has done so very carefully. It is working with various organisations that will be leaving the funding. However, it is right that we share the funding around the rest of the country; I make no apology for that. I want people not just to come to London to visit our wonderful facilities here, but to go around the whole country and experience what a great country we have to offer for tourism.
I welcome what the Minister said about spreading the money around the country. I invite him to come to the Derwent valley mills world heritage site, which is key to the whole of the spine that goes through Derbyshire. It is in disrepair and we need to get tourism back on track for Belper in particular. I would also like him to come to adjacent sites where we have “the clusters”, which are very ancient roads, to see how he can help with some funding.
It would be great to go from Qatar to Derbyshire and I would be more than happy to accept my hon. Friend’s invitation. She is right to talk about the many opportunities that we need to look at, including, particularly, the offer in the rest of the country for tourism from not just this country, but around the globe. One of my priorities is to get more people to come to London, of course, but then to visit other great counties such as Yorkshire, as I am sure you would agree, Mr Speaker.