While tourism in the UK is largely ignored, our international competitors are pursuing growth. It's time for a change, says Travelodge boss Grant Hearn
English Tourism Week provides a great opportunity to showcase the real value our industry brings to our nation in terms of providing economic growth, inward investment and job creation.
However, as the UK's fifth-largest business sector, it has been largely ignored by successive Governments. Our industry needs more than just lip service, as we have a huge opportunity within our grasp to help the economy recover. A lack of action is costing jobs, growth and investment, and our European neighbours and the USA are pursuing growth via forward-thinking strategies.
The difficulties in the economy are well-publicised, but British tourism can act as a catalyst to help grow the UK's economy. With the right regulatory framework, our industry has the potential to create 300,000 jobs by 2020.
However, a lack of Government action will prevent this from happening. Therefore in support of British Tourism week I have written to 106 MPs from England's key tourism constituencies, to ask for their support to promote tourism from its second-class status in the eyes of policy-makers.
The letter makes a case that it is high time policy-makers woke up and unlocked the true potential of one of the UK's fastest-growing industries and asks MPs to support a 10-point plan to develop a tourism industry capable of leading the economy to sustained growth and job creation.
As tourism is crucial to economic growth the plan also includes a recommendation for a dedicated taskforce to be created, which is headed up by a tourism minister. The letter also calls for more to be done to increase the UK's competitiveness, especially to reduce the bureaucracy behind the visa application process which keeps so many BRIC visitors away.
The letter is also supported with the first- ever comprehensive analysis into how tourism performed during the double-dip recession. This study, conducted by Travelodge, provides stark evidence to how the industry outperformed the general economy, leading the way in terms of employment numbers and revenue growth.
This report proves that tourism is one of the few industries to have continued growing despite the economic crisis.
I believe that by using their influential position, MPs can do so much more to help unleash the true potential of our industry in the House of Commons.