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Volume 635: debated on Thursday 8 February 2018

The Government’s tourism action plan outlines the ways in which we support tourism, both domestic and international, throughout the UK. The £40 million Discover England fund supports projects throughout England and aims to encourage visitors to spread beyond London and experience more of the country’s tourism offering. Visit Britain and Visit England work hard to promote the United Kingdom as a domestic and an international tourist destination.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. I am sure no one in the Chamber will need persuading that Dorset is a beautiful county. It is an excellent place in which to live and work, and of course to visit, but it is a significant distance from London and the tourist attractions there. What more can he do to ensure that Dorset and constituencies such as mine benefit from increasing tourist numbers?

Dorset is a beautiful county. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport manages the £40 million Discover England fund with Visit England, one key aim of which is to encourage visitors to explore all over England and experience the wealth of attractions we offer. There are many projects in rural and coastal destinations, including the seafood coast and the south west coast path.

Bearing in mind what my hon. Friend has just said about Dorset, may I say that tourism is also incredibly important for the Peak district? We get more than 20 million visitors each year. What is Visit England doing to support tourist attractions in those areas and to show what is available?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right: the Peak district and our other national parks are real jewels in our tourism crown. We are working closely with Visit Britain and the GREAT campaign to draw attention to our amazing countryside. I mentioned the Discover England project a moment ago. In the Derbyshire area, it is supporting projects based around our great walking trails and England’s national parks.

As St Helens celebrates its 150th anniversary, Ministers, those on the Front Benches and perhaps you, Mr Speaker, might like to visit at some point this year. Will the Minister’s Department and tourist authorities help us to use this special year to show that, with our fantastic arts and culture programmes, rugby league and horseracing, historic sites and proud industrial heritage, we are much more than a place to pass by—we are a place to go to?

I agree. St Helens is very much a place to go to. I wish it very well with its 150th anniversary.

The Minister will know that Discover England does a wonderful job in England, but one of the best things it could do is encourage people to visit Northern Ireland. Given that the question is about what we can do to promote tourism across the United Kingdom, does he recognise the unique attributes of many and various parts of the United Kingdom and does he encourage people to go there?

Indeed I do. Northern Ireland has seen a great increase in attractions, with the “Game of Thrones” activities and the set there. There is more to come.