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The tourism industry is central to the Government’s long-term economic plan, which is why we are investing over £177 million, including partner funding, in the GREAT campaign and other international and domestic marketing campaigns. We recently re-launched the Tourism Council, a partnership between industry and the Government.
The Suffolk coast is well known as a very attractive place to visit, with its open skies, beaches and cultural offerings. You are certainly most welcome—both you, Mr Speaker, and the Secretary of State—as the shadow Secretary of State will know. However, also adding to the long-term economic plan will hopefully be the construction of Sizewell C. My local businesses have understandable concerns about the impact of the construction phase on tourism in the area. Can he offer any helpful advice?
The hon. Lady wins her badge for the corps diplomatique.
I can tell my hon. Friend that I will be more than happy to visit. I am sure that Mr Speaker has been a number of times himself. The Suffolk coast is indeed beautiful—it is a jewel in Britain—and everyone should be encouraged to visit. She will know that I cannot comment on any planning application that is taking place, but she will be pleased to know that the Government will continue to work hard to promote Suffolk through VisitEngland and other organisations. The wonderful Suffolk coastline featured in VisitEngland’s “Coastal Escapes” marketing campaign was funded by the regional growth fund.
We work very closely with the Welsh Government on these issues. There is a lot to be gained from cross-co-operation, and a number of initiatives are in place.
Inbound tourism is as strategic a sector for this country as advanced manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, and the Tourism Council presents an opportunity for it to punch at its weight. Will my right hon. Friend set his sights high in terms of productivity, skills development, and co-operative working on distribution channels in marketing this country to the world?
I absolutely agree. My hon. Friend will be pleased to know, as will other hon. Members, that last year inbound tourism hit a new record high of 33 million visitors spending a record amount of £21 billion in the UK. He rightly points out the importance of improving skills, and we are working with the Tourism Council on that.
Despite recent sporting setbacks, our enthusiasm remains at fever pitch. Will the Minister, like me, be among the 3 million people it is anticipated will go to watch the start of the Tour de France this weekend? The Grand Depart will showcase some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside. Will he join me in wishing Yorkshire every success in hosting this event and wish every participant well, and, of course, success to our British riders? What is he doing to ensure that the event goes smoothly and that the region continues to benefit from the boost to tourism that it will get from hosting this event?
I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the importance of the Grand Depart taking place in Yorkshire. It is a very important sporting moment for the UK. I will be visiting on day one, on Saturday, and I look forward to seeing him there. The Prime Minister will also be visiting, and the sports Minister, my hon. Friend Mrs Grant, will be helping as well.
My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that VisitBritain has a specific initiative on promoting golf throughout the UK. That campaign is showing early signs of working, but we will be looking to see what more can be done.