Tourism

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 31st January 2019.

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Photo of Chris Davies Chris Davies Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire

What steps his Department is taking to support tourism throughout the UK.

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Tourism is an incredibly important part—one of the most important parts—of the UK economy, generating £68 billion a year and employing more than 1.5 million people. Visit Britain and the GREAT campaign, backed by significant Government support, continue to successfully promote the UK internationally.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I thought that the hon. Gentleman was seeking to group this question with Question 5. Is that right? That is what we have been advised—[Interruption.] Surely you know your own grouping, man!

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

If you wish, Mr Speaker, I will certainly do that. I had not understood that to be the case, but I am happy to link that question with Question 5— [Interruption.] I will say yes.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

What recent progress his Department has made on the tourism sector deal.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Very good. I understood that to be the request of the Government. It is quite important for the Government to know what the Government want. If the Government do not know what the Government want, how is the Speaker supposed to know, for goodness’ sake? I call Chris Davies.

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

I know what the Government want, Mr Speaker. So—[Interruption.] I think our colleague was going to ask a question.

Photo of Chris Davies Chris Davies Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire

If the Minister does not mind, I will ask my question before he answers it!

In my beautiful constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire, the River Teme runs through the scenic Teme valley into Shropshire, the River Wye runs through the idyllic Wye valley into Herefordshire, and the well-trodden tourist trail of Offa’s Dyke—where one can walk with one foot in England in one foot in Wales—runs down my constituency border. Will my hon. Friend confirm that his Department will ensure that rural tourism is indeed cross-border?

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

With the Brecon Beacons national park, my hon. Friend’s entire constituency is one of many with considerable beauty and attraction for tourists internationally as well as nationally. It is a key part of our economy to encourage tourism around the country, and we do that via Visit Britain and the GREAT campaign. I would happily encourage visitors to go to his constituency at any time.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

With Southend-on-Sea about to become a city, please will my hon. Friend explain to the House how the tourism sector deal can help Southend-on-Sea on its journey to become not only the finest seaside resort in the country, but the finest seaside resort in the world?

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The constituency certainly has one of the finest Members of Parliament. The important proposed tourism sector deal has moved into the negotiation phase, and we are exploring how the Government can work with the industry to reduce seasonality and address other tourism-related issues, such as increasing skills, improving local tourism offers and helping more people to develop tourism. All that will apply not only to my hon. Friend’s constituency, but to constituencies around the country. I wish Southend-on-Sea well.

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Chair, Transport Committee

One of the things that drives tourism is the arts, including theatre. Will the Minister join me in congratulating Nottingham Playhouse and its new artistic director, Adam Penford, on winning regional theatre of the year in The Stage awards? Does he agree that the theatre not only demonstrates outstanding creativity, but engages with and serves our communities, works hard to make the arts accessible to everyone, and provides yet another good reason to visit Nottingham?

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

I absolutely agree. In fact, more people visit the theatre than go to premiership football matches in any given year. The theatre is a key part of our economy and encourages visitors from around the world to come to this country, and I congratulate Nottingham Playhouse and its staff and management structure. I recommend that people go to the theatre and to Nottingham Playhouse.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Will the Minister do what he can to help to promote a summer of sport in Northern Ireland and in my constituency? The Open golf tournament is coming back for the first time in 70 years, and the North West 200 motorbike race celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Yes, I will. The reality is that those activities and so many others in his constituency bring not only soft power, encouraging people to come to his constituency, but economic power. We encourage all sports activities in that way.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis Conservative, Banbury

Tourists come to north Oxfordshire for many reasons, not least to shop in Bicester Village. Does the Minister agree that a tourism tax would not be beneficial?

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

I do. My hon. Friend may have seen an article by the director of the Victoria & Albert Museum. I was surprised that the director had time to engage with the subject of a tourism tax, on which I think he is wrong, but of course he is a former Labour Member and Labour MPs do like to tax as much as possible. The reality of the matter is that Bicester and other parts of this country benefit hugely from tourism, and we want to encourage it, not discourage it. There are 1.5 million jobs in tourism in this country, and Bicester attracts visitors from all over the world.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

There is a lot to be said for Bicester Village. I have been there many times, and I have an extremely agreeable Zegna tie that I purchased there some years ago. I am not wearing it today, but I will wear it for the benefit of Victoria Prentis on another occasion.

Photo of Louise Haigh Louise Haigh Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Policing)

Tourism is greatly boosted by our music industry. Sheffield’s musicians are renowned the world over, building their reputations on shoestring-budget European tours that are guaranteed because the movement of music equipment around Europe does not require a customs document known as the ATA Carnet. Will the Minister guarantee that musicians in Europe will not require such a document post Brexit, that the movement of music equipment will be frictionless and that the people of Europe will not be deprived of the Arctic Monkeys of tomorrow?

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

What I can guarantee is that my portfolio involves looking after the interests of musicians and orchestras. The Department does that by lobbying where appropriate and by discussing such matters with the Home Office, which is ultimately responsible for immigration issues. I met the Association of British Orchestras only last week. We are ensuring that musicians are looked after. They are an important part of our economy.