UK government reveals plans for discount rail and bus travel and vouchers to key attractions
Scheme is part of the UK government’s plan to boost the country's tourism sector
Government wants to ensure domestic tourism recovers to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022
Plans aim to get international tourism back to pre-COVID-19 numbers by the end of 2023
Discount rail and bus travel and £10m in vouchers to key attractions – funded by the National Lottery – are among the measures announced in the UK government’s plan to boost the country's tourism sector.
The UK government this week published its Tourism Recovery Plan
, which sets out the role that the DCMS and other departments will play in assisting and accelerating the tourism sector's recovery from COVID-19.
At the heart of the plan is to ensure domestic tourism recovers to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022 and for international tourism to reach pre-COVID-19 numbers by the end of 2023.
Visit Britain estimates that in 2020, the UK received just 11.1 million inbound visits – a 73 per cent decline from 2019, when the country welcomed 41 million international arrivals.
To support domestic tourism, the government will launch new rail and bus passes for Britons, offering flexible travel across the country and discounted entry to tourism attractions.
The rail pass will act like the existing BritRail pass, which is currently only available for international arrivals.
Describing the scheme, the government said: "The aim is to launch this new domestic rail tourism product later in the year, subject to a successful business case being developed."
The plan also identifies the year 2022 as a "springboard" for promoting the UK to both domestic and international tourists.
Among the events taking place during 2022 are The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Festival UK 2022 and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
To utilise these milestones, the government will deliver a £24m Business and Tourism Programme to run alongside the Commonwealth Games, using the "showcasing opportunity of sport to drive trade, investment and visitors to the region and the UK".
The British Tourist Authority will deliver the £10 million consumer promotion in partnership with The National Lottery to support the domestic tourism industry. The report says the initiative will see "vouchers, or similar, made available to National Lottery players that will be redeemable at tourist attractions across the UK." The scheme is slated to launch in the Autumn of 2021 "to encourage off-season trips in support of the hard-hit
domestic tourism sector, with more information on the scheme being made available later in the year.
Businesses wanting to take part will need to be using the 'We’re Good To Go' industry standard.
Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for tourism, said: "The tourism industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors by COVID-19. It is not hyperbole to say that the pandemic has represented the most difficult for the industry in the era of mass global tourism.
"Inbound flight arrivals have been down 90 per cent for over a year compared to 2019 levels, hotel occupancy far lower than normal, and the sector has been closed completely for at least six of the last twelve months.
"It is therefore unsurprising that data from the Office for National Statistics shows the largest economic contractions in the services sector over 2020 were all parts of the tourism industry – air, maritime, travel agents, accommodation, rail and entertainment – nor is it surprising that tourism has been the sector most reliant on the government’s unprecedented package of support measures such as the furlough scheme.
"This government is determined to help the UK’s world class tourism sector recover as quickly as possible with a full return to pre-COVID numbers by 2023 – ahead of independent forecasts.
"This means domestic and – in due course – international visitors spending more, staying longer, visiting throughout the year rather than just during the traditional tourist season, and accessing a more diverse range of destinations across the country.
"The government is committed to supporting the sector to emerge from the pandemic to become more resilient, more sustainable, more inclusive and more innovative."
To read the full Tourism Recovery Plan
, click here.