Election manifestos from several of the key political parties have acknowledged the role of tourism and hospitality as a key contributor to the UK economy for the first time ever. This is a significant achievement for the thousands of businesses and 3 million strong workforce across the industry that have been campaigning alongside the BHA to bring about a better understanding and recognition of the industry’s contribution.
The Conservative Party manifesto pays tribute to the industry as a supporter of three million jobs and references ‘the value of the tourism industry to the UK economy.’ The document promises to speed up the visa process for tourists, invest in transport infrastructure as well as stepping up its efforts to recruit more apprentices to the sector.
The Green Party manifesto stated their support for the BHA’s long running campaign to cut tourism VAT. The BHA has been actively lobbying all political parties to lower the tourism VAT from 20% to 5% in line with competitor destinations within the European Union. Reducing tourism VAT would help attract domestic and international holidaymakers as well as allowing businesses to increase investment. The reduction would also help support struggling tourist destinations, especially coastal areas.
Welsh National Party Plaid Cymru has also pledged to reduce tourism VAT in their manifesto, pledging a commitment to make ‘holidays at home more affordable and attract foreign tourists.’
The Liberal Democrat manifesto commits to strengthening the Hospitality and Tourism Council, with Business and Culture Secretaries as co-chairs. The manifesto also pledges to give higher status to tourism within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and to empower local Tourism authorities’ decision-making powers to promote tourism propositions.
The UKIP manifesto, meanwhile, calls for the creation of a dedicated Minister of State for Heritage and Tourism, to be attached to the Cabinet Office.
The only glaring absence across the main political parties’ manifesto is the Labour party who have all but failed to reference tourism in their manifesto, beyond a token reference to promoting access to green spaces in local planning and making them an important part of ‘our thriving tourism industry.’ However, the BHA does welcome the commitment to making a swift decision on the Davies Commission review to expand aviation capacity in the UK.
For the first time ever, tourism and hospitality has been recognised as a key contributor to jobs and the economy across the manifestos of several key parties. This is a small triumph, not only for the BHA, but for the 3 million people working in our industry who together make a significant contribution to the country’s GDP. This is just the first step. Together with our members, we are calling for all political parties to work with us to support policies which unlock our industry’s significant potential to create more careers, apprenticeships, jobs, exports, growth and prosperity. We urge them to support policy reforms for growth and prosperity for all UK regions. And we have a clear message for our next Prime Minister – there is an urgency to ensure the continuation and strengthening of the Tourism Industry Council after its first year. It is imperative that we expand its influence by having the Prime Minister as its leader, uniting all Ministers towards ensuring that cohesive policies drive growth and opportunity for the people of the United Kingdom.
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