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Devolution can boost local tourism in England, says study

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Handing tourism responsibility to local governments could help English tourism soar, according to new research.

The devolution process – the statutory delegation of powers from the central government to a regional level – would give local governments the power to make tourism legislation relevant to each area.

According to the study by the Local Government Association (LGA), domestic tourism is predicted to grow 2.9 per cent every year over the next decade, which is more than the overall economy (2.5 per cent). Therefore, says the LGA, devolution could help local areas become thriving tourism hotspots for both the growing staycation market and for overseas visitors.

Latest industry figures suggest that there were 103 million overnight trips in England in 2015, an 11 per cent increase compared to 2014.

“The LGA is urging the Government to keep up the momentum on agreeing devolution proposals to further boost tourism-led growth”, said the study. “The recently announced Tourism Action Plan is a step in the right direction, but much more could be done to put the levers of growth in the hands of local leaders.”

The LGA also suggests that by putting a local focus on improving transport, infrastructure, skills and business support, combined authorities and other similar arrangements can help to maximise tourist revenue, while also enhancing the distinctiveness of destinations.

"Councils have long recognised, and supported, the value of tourism to local growth, jobs and prosperity, which the devolution agenda should be primed to exploit,” said councillor Ian Stephens, chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board.

"The tourist economy is one of the UK's fastest growing economic sectors and councils have the opportunity to align their devolved responsibilities to improve their tourism offer to best showcase their unique identity and heritage, from food and drink and natural landscape to historic buildings and traditional festivals.

"Decisions about boosting tourism are best taken at the local level, which devolution deals stand to make possible through combined authorities and similar local governance arrangements.”

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Handing tourism responsibility to local governments could help English tourism soar, according to new research.
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Handing more responsibility to local government could help boost tourism, according to the LGA / Shutterstock.com
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