The finding of a report on the UK tourism industry reveals that the tourism revenue of the country is set to rise by more than 60 percent to £188bn by 2020, and one of the main draws of the next decade includes the 2012 Olympic Games. An independent report by Deloitte and Oxford Economics for VisitBritain, the tourism board of the UK estimates that the industry will grow at a rate of 3.5 percent per annum creating jobs from 264,000 to 2.89mn during the ten-year period.
The report has also discovered that the ‘culture and heritage’ of the country in the widest sense – extending from theatres, galleries, to pubs, Premiership Football, castles and stately homes – generated £4.6bn in total spending by overseas tourists in 2009. It said Britain’s Monarchy played a pivotal role in making the country magnetic to foreign tourists by recording well over £500mn during the same period.
Last year, out of 30mn overseas tourists, 5.8mn visited a castle, 5mn a historic house and 6.4mn chose to visit a religious monument such as a cathedral. The Tower of London was most popular and received about 2.4mn tourists last year, an increase of 11 percent from the previous year.
Christopher Rodrigues of VisitBritain argued that it was clear that tourism, already Britain’s fifth largest industry and third biggest earner of foreign exchange, was going to be central to the health of the British economy for years to come. On the contrary, UKinbound, which manages inbound tourism of Britain, has challenged the findings of the report, claiming it painted an unrealistic rosy picture.
However, the report too reminds of the significance of government intervention for the success of the tourism industry as there is a host of market barriers need to be addressed. They include co-ordinating the marketing of SMEs that cannot afford to do it themselves, empowering of rural firms faced with higher costs of operating to adopt new technology, and to support many districts across the country that rely on tourism as a key source of jobs for low-skilled and part-time workers.
UKinbound chief executive Mary Rance had stated “With no plans to increase capacity at Heathrow or any other London airport and in the absence of a strategy to restore the competitiveness of the UK as a destination by addressing the barriers to growth, it is fantasy to suggest that such huge growth is attainable.”
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