VisitEngland, the national tourist board and industry experts will today tackle challenges around the widening gap between the growth of tourism in London and the rest of the country at a high profile conference, Mind the Gap: Addressing the Tourism Divide, as part of this year’s International Festival for Business 2014.
The story is clearly positive for London. Last year London welcomed over 16 million international visitors for the first time ever making it one of the most popular destinations in the world. However, International Passenger Survey figures released earlier this year by the Office of National Statistics illustrate the widening gap between the growth of London and the rest of England.
Since 2008 the number of inbound trips to London has increased by 14%, while the number of trips to other areas of England is still 4% lower than it was before the recession. Spending has increased by 39% and 16% respectively. As a result, London’s share of inbound spending in England has grown from 57% to 61% over the period.
Experts across the transport and tourism industry will discuss how best to address this widening gap between the capital and the rest of England. High profile speakers include Deputy Chair of the Regional Growth Fund Independent Advisory Panel, Lord Shipley OBE; Tourism Minister, Helen Grant MP and Rita Beckwith OBE Chief Executive Officer of London-based City Cruises Plc. The conference also includes a video presentation featuring Economist, Journalist and BBC presenter, Evan Davis.
Lord Shipley said: “The growth of tourism into London is good news for our national economy. London will continue to grow as a destination as more and more tourists want to come.
We now need to embrace the opportunity this presents to boost tourism outside London. This means promoting the use of regional airports and making in-bound tourists more aware of all the visitor attractions across the country with ready-made packages they can take up before they leave home.”
Minister for Tourism Helen Grant said: “England has so many fantastic places to visit outside of our wonderful, vibrant capital city. I want to do all I can to help encourage visitors to enjoy not just London but to explore and enjoy destinations across the country, experiencing the great, diverse offer England boasts.”
James Berresford, VisitEngland Chief Executive said: “London is undoubtedly a phenomenal city. It is a magnet for international tourists and is growing in popularity around the world. We have to ensure that we are using the positive growth in London for the benefit of the rest of England. We need to address this growth divide to ensure that our overseas visitors have England as well as London firmly on their itineraries in the future.”
Delegates will discuss many of the issues surrounding the regional tourism divide, including whether there is enough investment in infrastructure outside of London and whether we are providing our international visitors with a competitive offer.
This year the tourism industry has a significant presence at The International Festival for Business, with VisitEngland, British Destinations, European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), and The Tourism Society, delivering a full programme of events. On the 17 June 2014 ETOA will also be holding a conference in association with VisitEngland, The Future of City Tourism at The Rum Warehouse, Liverpool. For more information and how to register, please visit www.etoa.org