Blackpool MP in call to support tourism budget

Tourists enjoying the sun in Blackpool
Tourists enjoying the sun in Blackpool

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden called for the Government to back the domestic tourism industry at a national conference in Blackpool.

He told delegates from across the county at the Imperial Hotel that stronger government support for domestic tourism coupled with increased training and reskilling to boost service industries in seaside resorts and tourist attractions was central for both visitors and residents.

He was speaking at the British Destinations annual meeting here in Blackpool.

Mr Marsden, who is the national president of British Destinations, whose members involve a range of seaside and coastal local authorities as well as other tourist organisations, said it was crucial the Government’s spending review expected in November did not cut further the already modest budget that Visit England had to promote domestic tourism in places like Blackpool and other coastal and tourist attractions outside London.

He said: “Spending money on marketing to overseas tourists is all well and good, but without support for promoting what we have to offer across England both to them and our own visitors, the local economies of seaside towns like Blackpool and the surrounding rural tourism which often ties into people’s staycations, will not get the benefits they deserve”

Mr Marsden, who has just become Labour’s Skills spokesman as a Shadow Business Minister, also said the success of Blackpool’s ‘selective licensing’ scheme, to promote good quality landlords and housing in areas of the town covering the visitor economy, needed to be matched nationwide by Government as well as stronger focus on promoting and expanding skills in the hospitality and leisure industries.

He added: “Decent training, both vocational and on the job, including strong apprenticeship models, can provide good careers and employment not just for young people but for older ones, wanting to retrain.

“Such a package can boost the local economy of tourist towns like Blackpool and proper life changes for those who desperately need them.

“People First, the tourism and service sector council, has just produced a report to say that just a 1 percent increase in productivity in those job areas would produce an extra £1.4bn nationwide. That would be a significant boost in people investment to match the infrastructure investment that Blackpool and other seaside areas are making.”

Blackpool council’s director of place, Alan Cavill introduced the two day conference with an overview of investment and changes in the resort in recent years.

The theme was tourism and the visitor economy in the age of austerity.

Also among the speakers were Visit England’s James Berresford, People 1st’s Anita Duffy, Scott Dolling from Southend BID.