Can increase in UK tourism help create hospitality jobs?

With the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee all taking place in the summer, Britain has attracted more than its fair share of international attention this year.

And while figures suggest the Olympics had mixed results for the tourism and hospitality industry, the UK's tourism chiefs are now hoping to build on the publicity these events generated and, should they prove successful, it could mean that a whole host of new hospitality jobs are created.

This week, VisitEngland unveiled its latest plans to boost the country's tourism sector, announcing no fewer than eight new marketing campaigns aiming to encourage people from the UK to holiday in England.

The campaigns will cover four major themes – countryside, heritage, culture and coastal – aiming to highlight the country's biggest assets when it comes to tourism.

They will be run in partnership with destinations from all over England as well as national commercial organisations, with additional financing coming from a £2 million grant from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

And if all goes to plan, they could provide significant opportunities for those seeking hospitality work and tourism jobs.

"I'm pleased to see that the RGF is supporting VisitEngland and its partners to boost tourism and create over 9,000 jobs over three years in our cultural and heritage-rich communities up and down the country," commented business minister Michael Fallon.

"The world saw that we could put on a good show from hosting the Olympics and it is important that we capitalise on this in rebalancing the economy and building an aspiration nation."

But while the VisitEngland campaign aims to boost domestic tourism, the race is also on to attract greater visitor numbers from overseas.

The UK already does surprisingly well when it comes to attracting foreign tourists. According to the UN World Tourism Organisation's figures, the UK was the seventh most-visited country in the world in 2011, with 29.2 million arrivals.

However, while this figure was a 3.2 per cent increase on 2010, the country is still far below the level of the world's tourism big hitters, which is headed by France with 79.5 million international arrivals in 2011.

VisitBritain predicts that visitor numbers will increase again this year, rising to around 31 million, but it has also put in place plans to extend this growth into the future and hopes to hit 40 million visitors by 2020, which would represent a growth rate of three per cent.

The core component of its growth strategy is to capitalise on the UK's additional exposure to potential visitors from around the world during the Olympics.
Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of VisitBritain, said: "This summer has shown what the country can do when we are united in a common cause.

"This country showed passion, professionalism, drive and energy to stage the best ever Olympic and Paralympic Games. The test now is whether we can maintain this to create wealth and jobs through a major tourism drive."

Whatever the success of these plans, one thing is already clear: the availability of hospitality jobs, be they in hotels, restaurants, bars or attractions, depends largely upon the UK's ability to attract tourists.

According to VisitBritain, one in twelve jobs in the UK is currently either directly or indirectly supported by tourism – with the industry creating employment for estimated 2.6 million people.

"[Tourism] is an industry that can deliver jobs quickly – right across Britain and at all skills levels – and much needed economic growth," said Mr Rodrigues. "Every £40,000 spent by overseas visitors to Britain can create a new job."

Berkeley Scott provides specialist advice and support to help you find hospitality work