This summer we should recognise the vital role that visitors play in the UK economy—particularly, I might say, overseas sporting visitors. Overseas visitors spent nearly £150 million in Devon last year, supporting jobs and growth throughout the county. Our new sector deal with the tourism industry was published last month, and includes commitments to an additional 10,000 apprenticeships annually and an extra 130,000 hotel rooms.
As the Secretary of State will know, the best place to visit as a tourist is, of course, North Devon. I welcome the publication of the tourism sector deal, but will he look favourably on the granting of tourism zone status to my constituency? Will he also join me in thanking all those who work so hard at this time of year in the tourism and hospitality industries, especially the North Devon Marketing Bureau, which does such good work in ensuring that people know that North Devon is the place to come to?
That is a great endorsement, Mr Speaker.
I certainly join my hon. Friend in recognising that what is a time for holidays for many people is a time of intense work for people in the hospitality and tourism industries throughout the country. I also recognise North Devon’s bid to become one of the tourism zones. As my hon. Friend knows, the sector deal includes an investment of more than £26 million in the English coastal path, one of the most beautiful and popular attractions in his very beautiful constituency.
Given that 20,000 non-UK staff work in tourism in the Lake District, there is a desperate need for home-grown talent, whether we leave the EU or not. However, the Government have watered down the already delayed catering and hospitality T-level, which no longer includes hospitality. Will the Secretary of State undo that backwards move, and fast-track a catering and hospitality T-level to next year?
If the hon. Gentleman looks at the sector deal, he will see a great commitment to the development of careers in the hospitality industry, including 30,000 apprenticeships a year. The new T-levels have been developed in conjunction with the sector. I hope the hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that that is a great step forward, and that they will be available as a result of the commitment that has been made.
I am tempted to say that the best thing about Devon is that it is the place that one drives through on the way to Cornwall, which has again been recognised as the UK’s best and favourite holiday destination. I welcome the announcement of the tourism sector deal, but more than 50% of international tourists visit only London. What extra help can the Government give to get more of them out of London, and into places like Cornwall?
I am fearful that I shall find myself in an invidious position, given the competing claims of west country Members. All I will say is that, on this day of the 50th anniversary of the moon mission, my hon. Friend will know that Newquay’s unique claim to be in pole position for a UK spaceport adds to the already considerable attractions of his constituency.
During last week’s Westminster Hall debate, the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kelly Tolhurst, was enthusiastic when she told us that Amazon was leading the retail task group. I dread to think who the Secretary of State might have in mind for tourism—Airbnb, perhaps?
It is Labour that is standing up for the crucial sectors in our economy, not the likes of Amazon, with its exploitation of workers and undercutting of other businesses, not to mention its sweetheart tax agreements. When will the Government stop the gimmicks, and deliver not only hospitality deals but the retail deals that are so badly needed by those vital sectors of the economy?
That is a strange point for the hon. Gentleman to make, given that our tourism sector deal—the subject of this question—has been hailed by the industry as a pivotal moment for it. Of course it is right to engage with all retailers of all sizes, but colleagues who represent rural communities will know that the outlets, national and international, that web-based platforms such as Amazon give to small rural businesses are very important to retailing. It is vital for that perspective to be part of the deal.