Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston on the importance of the UK’s tourism industry, how the sector has adapted to the pandemic and how it can improve into the future (this foreword appeared in the 2021 edition of Who’s Who in Group Leisure. To access the digital edition click here.)

Polperro, Cornwall

Sunrise at the cornish fishing village of Polperro, Cornwall.

With international travel restricted in 2020, many of us have been reminded of how much the UK has to offer.

Nigel Huddleston, tourism minister

Nigel Huddleston.

From Cornish fishing villages to the Scottish Highlands, we are a nation filled to the brim with diverse and varied places to visit and enjoy with plenty of art, culture and heritage in between.

Our tourism industry is undoubtedly a major national asset, employing millions of people in all parts of the country and enriching many lives beyond that. But there is no denying that it has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and we’re doing our utmost in Government to make sure the sector can survive and flourish again.

Tourism benefits every corner of the UK and contributes billions to the economy. It broadens our horizons, gives us new experiences and showcases our amazing heritage, countryside, food, drink, coastlines, cities, culture and much more.

That is why we have taken unprecedented steps to support the sector and safeguard jobs through this pandemic. The Government’s world-leading support measures are worth £200 billion in total with the tourism sector itself benefiting directly from the Job Retention Scheme, cash grants, VAT cuts, and business rates relief.

We have also helped the sector to open up safely. VisitBritain’s ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry standard is already in use by over 41,000 businesses across the UK, and clearly shows consumers which businesses have taken steps to comply with COVID-secure guidance. This is alongside our £10 million Kick-Starting Tourism Package which has helped English businesses adapt to the pandemic. The Government is determined to help the industry recover as quickly as possible.

We want to support the tourism sector to build back better and are determined to play our part in developing a more sustainable, innovative, and data-driven tourism industry. In 2019 we launched the Tourism Sector Deal to promote best practice across the industry, make the UK the most accessible tourism destination in Europe by 2025 and provide a tourism offer celebrating environmentally and family friendly activities through our £45 million Discover England Fund.

I look forward to working closely with industry on all aspects of our plans to improve the tourism offer in the UK and to fulfil our determination to level-up communities across the country. Let there be no doubt about the Government’s support for tourism.