VisitEngland, the national tourist board and industry experts will met earlier this month 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 more than 16 million international visitors for the first time ever, making it on 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 and chief executive officer of London-based City Cruises. The conference also includes a video presentation featuring economist, journalist and BBC presenter, Evan Davis.
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.