The Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2011 issued a report on Government Tourism Policies, which emphasised the importance of tourism to the UK representing one of its biggest industries and then accounting for almost GB£ 90 billion each year. In the wide-ranging report the Government indicated its intention to fund a GB£ 100 million marketing campaign (the GREAT Britain Campaign) to attract visitors to the UK, improve the sector’s productivity and increase the proportion of UK residents who holiday in the UK. Perhaps surprisingly, especially considering the source of the report, it was rather weak on culture and cultural tourism, even though regular surveys of overseas visitors indicate that for many tourists the UK’s culture and heritage is the main reason for their visit.
An Arts Council England report on The Value of Arts and Culture to the People and Society indicated that engagement with arts and culture from inbound tourism in 2011 represented 42% of such tourist expenditure. An emphasis on ‘bringing the tourism and culture worlds together’ is found in Take a Closer Look: A cultural tourism vision for London 2015-17, produced by the Greater London Authority that refers to the capital’s cultural assets. ACE and Visit England announced a new partnership in 2013 to boost cultural tourism. A priority in the partnership has been to encourage and support destinations that have the potential to grow and inspire cultural and local economies. Arts Council Lottery Funding of GB£ 3 million has been available to encourage and develop arts and cultural experiences and targeted holiday packages for visitors that include a cultural dimension.
In 2016 the UK Government published a Tourism Action Plan, which identified five priorities: the tourism landscape; boosting skills; examing the scope for deregulation of the industry; facilitating access to transport for visitors; and driving improvements in the visa service. A follow up – the Tourism Action Plan – One Year On, indicating progress on the priorities, was published by DCMS in 2017. The Tourism Action Plan envisaged restructuring of the two principal tourism agencies: Visit Britain, which is responsible for raising Britain’s tourism profile worldwide, increasing the volume and values of tourism exports, and developing Britain’s and England’s visitor economy, and Visit England, which is responsible for marketing England to domestic and established overseas markets and improving England’s tourism product. Both are non-departmental bodies. Subsequently, the Government agreed a Tourism Sector Deal that sets ambitious targets to make the UK the most accessible tourism destination in Europe by 2025, which presents opportunities for heritage destinations to become more inclusive taking into account factors such as age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background.
Visit Wales has tourism responsibilities in relation to Wales. The Welsh Government Strategy for Tourism 2013-2020: Partnerships for Growth sought to grow tourism earnings by 10% by 2020 through promoting a distinctive brand for Wales, development of tourism product and people, utilising new technology and place building.