2. What assessment she has made of trends in the level of tourism to the UK in the next five years. (900835)
Data from Visit Britain show that 2016 was a record-breaking year for tourism, with 38 million inbound visits, and the Government are working hard with Visit Britain and the sector more broadly to achieve the aim of 40 million visits per year by 2020.
Mansfield is the biggest and best town in Nottinghamshire, with a wonderful theatre, a nationally acclaimed museum and Sherwood forest on its doorstep, but we do not make the most of those assets. In fact, we do not have a single major hotel in the constituency. Will the Minister join me in commending the work of Mansfield Town football club, which is striving to bring such a hotel to the constituency, and will he offer the Government’s support in making Mansfield a tourist destination in the future?
I commend my hon. Friend for his ambition, in his first three months in the House, and I certainly pay tribute to Mansfield Town football club. I would say to him and to all hon. Members that there are such opportunities, particularly looking at the Discover England Fund, which specialises in supporting tourism products outside London. I would draw his attention to that in the first instance.
North Wales has been identified as one of the places to go to in the world this year, and with Chester on our doorstep and Liverpool close by, we are a tourist destination of choice. When can the Minister give certainty about visas, or the potential for visas, for European Union citizens post the EU exit, because we service Ireland and we have many visitors from the mainland EU?
I certainly recognise the many attractions of the right hon. Gentleman’s part of the world, and I visited Liverpool during the recess. With respect to visas, I will be having a roundtable discussion with many representatives from the tourism sector in two weeks’ time, and I will be looking to take this forward across the Government in the coming weeks.
Stafford has wonderful tourist attractions, not least the town centre, but also Shugborough and Weston Park. However, to get to Stafford from the M6, people have to come off at junctions 13 or 14, both of which are blighted constantly by lots and lots of litter. What can my hon. Friend do to persuade Highways England of the need to keep our major roads cleaner to attract more tourists?
I have experienced that difficulty in my constituency, and I am very sympathetic to what my hon. Friend says. Perhaps I could have a conversation with him to work out where those particular spots are and approach Highways England to see whether we can get a resolution.
My constituency, Edinburgh West, is—like the rest of Edinburgh and much of Scotland—highly dependent on tourism. We have the new attraction of the bridge, Edinburgh zoo, the rugby and the world’s biggest international festival. Will the Minister assure me that he will press Her Majesty’s Treasury to take the same sort of initiative on lowering VAT for the tourism industry that our partners in the EU have done to support that industry and boost their communities?
I thank the hon. Lady for her question. The Secretary of State and I visited Edinburgh during the recess, and we saw the many attractions, particularly the festival. I certainly listen very carefully to representations from across the tourism sector about what we can do to encourage more visitors, and I take her point on board.