Tourism future the focus of forum's final day
Derbyshire’s tourism industry could bounce back in 2021 due to predicted growth in the ‘staycation’ market.
Earlier today, on the third and final day of the Midlands UK Forum for Growth, Councillor Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council, joined a panel discussion called Revitalising the Midlands Visitor Economy.
And in that debate, while he acknowledged that this year’s lockdowns had hit the county’s tourism sector, he said there was an opportunity for the county to capitalise on the growing staycation market next year.
Councillor Lewis, who is also cabinet member for strategic leadership, culture and tourism, said: “This year, we probably only had about three active months, between June and the end of August.
“Having said that, during those three months, we were very busy and welcomed many people who had never been to the Peak District before - or had not visited for a long time.
“With the overseas tourism market predicted to be subdued in 2021, there is an opportunity for us to capture more of that staycation market and more overnight stays.”
Councillor Lewis also said there was also an opportunity to increase the number of visitors to Derbyshire by building a strong events programme for 2021.
He said: “We have a schedule of events and festivals, built around a number of key anniversaries.
“We need to galvanise that programme of events to drive visitor numbers.”
The panel discussion tackled a range of questions, including how the Midlands can develop its visitor economy, where the opportunities for growth are, how tourism can rejuvenate towns and cities and how the private and public sector can collaborate to maximise mutual opportunities.
Tourism is a valuable sector to the Derbyshire economy. Pre-Covid, it contributed £2.2 billion to the local economy, hosted over 45 million visitors each year and supported 32,000 jobs.
Responding to a question about the support the sector has received from central government, Councillor Lewis said: “The Government has so far done lots of things to support the sector. An extension of VAT support would be a huge help to hospitality.”
And when asked about his hopes for the future, Councillor Lewis said: “I’m certainly hoping that we can get a vaccine sorted, which will allow us to start to return to some sort of normal in 2021, so we can capitalise on the critical and brilliant assets we have across this region.”