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Liberal Democrats

F31: Open Britain: Policies to Support Tourism

12 members

Mover: Baroness Doocey (Spokesperson for Tourism).

Summation: Lord McNally.

Conference believes that tourism is the lifeblood of the UK economy, with a rich tapestry of destinations beyond the capital cities - London, Edinburgh and Cardiff - ranging from traditional 'bucket and spade' resorts like Blackpool to creative hotspots like Brighton, rural retreats like the Lake District and modern city attractions like those in Bradford, Hull, Liverpool and Gateshead.

Conference notes that:

  1. Tourism comprises over 250,000 businesses, 95 per cent of which are micro businesses and SMEs.
  2. They provide jobs for 3.1m people - approximately 10 per cent of the UK work force, contributing £127 billion to the economy each year - 9 per cent of GDP.
  3. Jobs in the industry are well distributed around the country, boosting rural, urban and seaside communities alike.
  4. The industry is responsible for 29 per cent of the UK's global service exports.
  5. International visitors spend £24.5 billion annually and generate £7 billion in tax.

Conference regrets that the government has neglected to make tourism a part of its industrial strategy and recognises three major challenges for UK tourism:

  1. How to support the industry to grow and develop through turbulent political and economic times, enabling these thousands of businesses to recruit and retain staff, and to continue growing and creating jobs.
  2. How to ensure the industry protects and enhances the natural environment on which much of it relies.
  3. How the sector can be fairly and effectively regulated to take account of technological change, particularly in the accommodation market.

Conference therefore supports the following policies to support tourism, taken from the spokesperson's paper Open Britain:

  • Provide a framework of increased support for the tourism industry that will allow it to flourish by:
    1. Creating a new Secretary of State for Tourism, Culture, Communications and Sport to replace the existing DCMS Secretary.
    2. Upgrading the status of VisitEngland so it becomes a national tourist board in its own right, directly accountable to the Secretary of State.
    3. Making National tourist boards more accountable, with ambitious targets.
  • Help less well-off communities in Britain gain opportunities through the tourism industry, helping to rebalance the economy away from an over-reliance on London and boosting opportunities for young people to get skills and develop a career by:
    1. Redistributing visitors from the capital to the regions and nations of the UK.
    2. Creating new links between attractions in rural areas nearby to each other.
    3. Keeping tourists connected to fast mobile data and broadband throughout their stay.
    4. Promoting exchange schemes so that those in low-skilled work can earn placements abroad, to broaden their experience and learn new languages.
    5. Marketing modular tourism and hospitality apprenticeships through better links between industry and schools.
    6. Providing dedicated training for young people designed to improve skills development in digital and new technology.
    7. Reforming the visa system for migrant workers in line with the policies set out in policy paper 131, A Fair Deal for Everyone.
  • Promote growth to enable the industry to be internationally competitive and sustainable, so helping to achieve our national objectives on climate change by:
    1. Improving public transport links and taking measures to reduce 'over-tourism'.
    2. Putting Environmental issues at the heart of strategic planning for the industry.
    3. Establishing an expanded green accreditation scheme for attractions and accommodation.
    4. Focusing on access to rural attractions without using a car.
    5. Make the display of food hygiene ratings mandatory for businesses in England, including on online takeaway websites.
  • Promote the benefits of technological innovation while putting in place a level playing field for the accommodation sector, from Airbnb rooms right through to traditional hotels by:
    1. Establishing a statutory registration scheme for the accommodation sector, bringing enhanced safety standards across the board and especially in the 'sharing economy'.
    2. Granting new powers for local authorities to limit the number of homes registered as short lets.
    3. Removing 'rent a room' tax relief on rooms designated as short-lets.
  • Reduce taxation on tourism by central government, to boost the sector, while empowering local authorities to raise revenue and invest in their local tourist economies, aiming for an overall revenue-neutral impact by:
    1. Reducing VAT on visitor accommodation and attractions.
    2. Requiring accommodation and attractions benefiting from the reduced rate to advertise their prices exclusive of VAT.
    3. Enabling local authorities to bring in tourist levies to fund local infrastructure through councils and destination management organisations.

    Applicability: Federal; except 2. b) - f) (lines 50-60), 3. (lines 64-76), 4. a) and b) (lines 80-84), and 5. c) (lines 94-96) which are England only.

    Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes. For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 4.

    The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00 Monday 2 September; see page 6. Amendments selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Monday's Conference Daily. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 Sunday 15 September; see page 3.


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