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VisitEngland tackles the regional ‘tourism divide’

VisitEngland, the national tourist board, will today tackle challenges around the widening gap between the growth in tourism in London and the rest of the country at a high profile conference, Mind the Gap: Addressing the Tourism Divide

The conference took place at the International Festival for Business (IFB) 2014 with experts across the transport and tourism industry set to discuss how best to address the widening gap between the capital and the rest of England.

High profile speakers included deputy chair of the Regional Growth Fund Independent Advisory Panel, Lord Shipley OBE, tourism minister, Helen Grant MP and Rita Beckwith OBE, CEO of London-based City Cruises.

The news comes as figures revealed that last year, London alone welcomed over 16 million international visitors for the first time ever, making it one of the most popular destinations in the world.

However, International Passenger Survey figures released earlier this year by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) illustrate the widening gap between the growth of London and the rest of England.

Since 2008 the number of inbound trips to London has increased by 14%, while the number of trips to other areas of England is still 4% lower than it was before the recession.  Spending has increased by 39% and 16% respectively. As a result, London’s share of inbound spending in England has grown from 57% to 61% over the period.

James Berresford, chief executive at VisitEngland, said: “London is undoubtedly a phenomenal city. It is a magnet for international tourists and is growing in popularity around the world. We have to ensure that we are using the positive growth in London for the benefit of the rest of England.

“We need to address this growth divide to ensure that our overseas visitors have England as well as London firmly on their itineraries in the future.”

Helen Grant, minister for tourism, added: “England has so many fantastic places to visit outside of our wonderful, vibrant capital city. I want to do all I can to help encourage visitors to enjoy not just London, but to explore and enjoy destination across the country, experiencing the great, diverse offer England boasts.”

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