As the MP for a seaside town that depends heavily on tourism, John has always taken a close interest in the sector. So he was delighted when, in May 2010, he became the new coalition Government’s Tourism & Heritage Minister. Over the next couple of years John became the longest serving Tourism Minister in recent memory, before stepping down when the Department for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (DCOMS – the Government Department responsible for Tourism) was reduced in size after the job of organising the highly-successful London Olympics was finished. During that time he delivered a series of much-needed reforms and improvements for the sector, including:
- Wrote and launched the Government’s new Tourism Policy, backed by support from both David Cameron and George Osborne. This includes more than £150 million in various marketing campaigns to promote Britain to foreign and domestic visitors, and measures to improve the industry’s productivity and commercial edge.
- Announced long-awaited funding and road layout changes for Stonehenge, to upgrade visitor facilities at one of our most-visited tourist attractions which is also a World Heritage site.
- Lobbied successfully for owners of holiday letting accommodation to get better tax treatment, which then featured in George Osborne’s first budget.
- Announced plans to get rid of much-hated bureaucracy which discourages people from organising concerts, plays and other live entertainment. The changes will mean more small gigs in pubs and clubs, which is where most new bands and talent get started, and fewer pitfalls facing local community groups and organisations which want to lay on amateur concerts, plays or sporting events as well. UK Music (the leading music industry umbrella body in this area) said it is “positive news for the industry, and especially for emerging talent."
- Identified more than 60 out of the 102 Government regulations affecting the hospitality sector of our tourism industry which will now be abolished, merged or simplified.
- Lobbied successfully for online applications for UK visas anywhere in the world, and for application guidance to be translated into foreign languages (they’d previously only been available in English), to make it simpler and more convenient for would-be tourists to visit Britain.
- Supported the creation of a new Hospitality Guild, to improve skills and productivity across Britain’s tourism industry.
John’s work with Tourism didn’t end there, of course. The sector is still one of the biggest and most important parts of Weston’s local economy, so John continues to work closely with tourism firms to drive the seaside town’s ongoing regeneration.
Former Tourism Minister and local MP John Penrose worked alongside full-time staff as an assistant at Weston's Tourism Information Centre last Friday, to celebrate English Tourism Week...
John will be doing his bit for Tourism Week on Friday: Weston's Tourist Info Centre have hired him as a temporary assistant!
The Independent has asked MPs for their favourite British tourist destination. Answers ranged from Cusworth Hall to Blenhein Palace to Bradfield Village to Portmeirion and many more besides, but there could only be one answer from Weston's MP...
MILLIONS of pounds should have been spent on improving transport infrastructure around Weston years ago, according to a Government minister, with John agreeing that “It’s already saving thousands of hours of travel time for local people working in Bristol and for visitors to our town too."
Weston's MP, John Penrose, has welcomed Network Rail's announcement last week of plans for a new direct route for rail journeys from the West Country to Heathrow.
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