TOURISM managers Experience Oxfordshire have welcomed a government pledge to boost the industry with a series of new initiatives.

Prime Minister Theresa May today announced the UK’s first ever tourism sector deal.

As part of the deal, five new tourism ‘zones’ will be created and Oxford could be included in one of these zones.

Oxford Mail:

Mrs May said this would revolutionise the way data is used by the sector, through the creation of a new Tourism Data Hub.

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The hub will collate regularly updated information showing the latest trends and spends, allowing businesses to better target overseas visitors.

The deal will also support the creation of an additional 10,000 apprenticeships in the tourism and hospitality sectors and commits to building an additional 130,000 hotel rooms to 'respond to the increased demand for infrastructure'.

Oxford Mail:

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Tourism is one of our most valuable industries and it plays a vital role in our economy, with nearly two million people employed in the communities across the country and £23 billion pounds spent by visitors in the UK last year.

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“As part of today’s ground-breaking Deal, new Tourism Zones will deliver a direct boost to holiday destinations across the country.”

Precise details have not yet been provided on the locations of the zones or exactly how they would work.

Oxford Mail:

The day before the deal was announced, Minister for Business Andrew Stephenson was given a guided tour of Oxford Castle and Prison by Debbie Dance OBE, Experience Oxfordshire Board Director and Director of Oxford Preservation Trust, followed by an inspection of the Malmaison hotel, accompanied by Sales Manager Victoria Little.

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Also in attendance were representatives from Blenheim Palace, City Sightseeing Oxford, Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Macdonald Bear Hotel, Wellers Accountants and Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

Experience Oxfordshire chief executive Hayley Beer-Gamage said: “We will be working hard to engage with stakeholders across Oxfordshire to seek to be part of the sector deal as it aligns with our own destination management ambitions.

Oxford Mail:

“We are particularly keen to hear more about the Tourism Zone proposals.

"We will work hard with public and private sector organisations across the county to ensure that Oxfordshire is in a strong position to bid into this exciting national initiative.”

Oxford Mail:

Mary Clarkson, cabinet member for culture and city centre, said: “We have provided Experience Oxfordshire with about £1m of funding over the last six years and have been supporting them as they transition to a self-funding model.

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"We will of course support Experience Oxfordshire in a bid for Oxford to become a ‘Tourism Zone’.”