Press release

Government to set Tourism bodies targets to spread growth across UK

VisitBritain and VisitEngland charged with getting more overseas visitors to travel beyond London to maintain UK’s tourism boom

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The government will set tourism body VisitBritain challenging regional tourism targets to ensure more overseas visitors go beyond Big Ben and Leicester Square and experience what the whole of the UK has to offer, Tourism Minister Helen Grant announced today.

The drive to encourage more visitors to explore beyond London will also involve VisitEngland working with destinations across the country to develop offers and packages that will appeal to tourists from overseas.

The moves come as the Government has completed a review of how VisitBritain and VisitEngland will function in the future, with changes recommended to keep up Britain’s tourism boom.

Minister for Tourism Helen Grant said:

The tourism sector is making a significant contribution to our long-term economic plan with visits and spend from overseas tourists at a record high. We must keep up this momentum and encourage visitors from across the world to experience the best of Britain in the nations and regions.

Going forward, VisitBritain will be set stretching targets by Government to deliver more visitors across the regions helping to boost local economies and create jobs.

VisitEngland will play an important part too helping destinations have the strongest possible tourism offer in place.

The review has also recommended that:

  • VisitEngland should in future manage a challenge fund for destinations from across England to bid for investment to develop tourism offers

  • VisitBritain should lead on all international marketing, pulling in overseas visitors, in consultation with the national tourist boards. VisitEngland will cease international marketing.

The government has recently announced a number of initiatives supporting tourism in the regions.

This includes £10 million investment into a Northern Tourism fund, £3 million into VisitBritain’s Countryside is GREAT campaign - promoting rural Britain - and a £2 million challenge fund for towns and cities from across the country to bid from to bolster their tourism offer. VisitBritain will also be given £2 million to market Loch Ness overseas.

2014 was a record year for the tourism sector with 34 million visits from overseas tourists who spent £21.7 billion. 2015 is forecast to be even better, with Visit Britain expecting spend to break through the £22 billion barrier and the number of visits predicted to go up to 35.1 million.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics showed in the first nine months of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013, tourism spending from overseas visitors reached new records in Wales (£303 million), Scotland (£1.5 billion), the East of England (£693 million), the North West (£849 million) and the South East, excluding London, (£1.7 billion).

Inbound tourism spend in the capital was also at a record high in the period, reaching £8.9 billion.

Notes to Editors:

For further information call the Department for Culture, Media and Sport news and communications team on 020 7211 6971

The tourism sector contributed £127 billion GVA to the British economy in 2013, according to Deloitte, based on the sector’s total indirect contribution that includes businesses in the tourism supply chain.

According to the International Passenger Survey 2013 the top 20 towns for visitors to the UK are:

  • London
  • Edinburgh
  • Manchester
  • Birmingham
  • Liverpool
  • Glasgow
  • Oxford
  • Bristol
  • Brighton / Hove
  • Cambridge
  • Leeds
  • Cardiff
  • Bath
  • York
  • Nottingham
  • Aberdeen
  • Inverness
  • Southampton
  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • Reading
Published 12 March 2015