May: Brexit will create growth opportunities for UK tourism
Brexit will create "real opportunities for growth" in the UK's tourism industry, Theresa May has claimed.
The Government has announced the first set of winners to receive a share of a £40 million fund designed to ensure the nation remains a "world-beating destination" for holidaymakers.
Meanwhile, ministers are also publishing a new Tourism Action Plan to propel the UK ahead of its competitors in the race to attract visitors.
The Prime Minister said the announcements, made ahead of the August bank holiday weekend, will help make it easier for people to travel beyond London and support the UK's "vitally important" tourism industry.
Mrs May said: "The British people's decision to leave the European Union creates real opportunities for growth and we will work in close partnership with the tourism industry, to ensure it continues to thrive as negotiations on the UK's exit progress.
"We are making it easier for visitors to travel beyond London and experience all of the world-class attractions the UK has to offer, to make sure the benefits of this thriving industry are felt by the many and not the few.
"We will make sure Britain is even more attractive, accessible and welcoming to visitors."
The first set of grants from the £40 million Discover England Fund have been awarded to projects and organisations across the country.
They include plans from Golf Tourism England to increase the popularity of the country as a golf tourism destination and proposals from the English Riviera Tourism Company to enhance the Riviera's status as an international seafood destination.
Last year saw 36 million people visit the UK, spending £22.1 billion, and the Government is hoping to build on the record-breaking success of 2015 with its new tourism blueprint.
The action plan includes measures to make it easier for people to travel across the UK by rail as well as the introduction of a flexible apprenticeship scheme which will allow training to take place over 16-18 months instead of the usual 12 to reflect the seasonal nature of the tourism industry.
It also contains measures to cut red tape.
Ministers will look to change licensing rules to allow bed and breakfast owners to offer customers a welcome drink and to amend vehicle licensing rules to allow them to pick up their guests from train stations.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: "With world-class museums, fantastic heritage sites and stunning countryside the UK has a lot to offer tourists - from both home and abroad.
"Through the Discover England Fund and working with the industry, I look forward to helping further strengthen tourism outside London to ensure that growth from the sector is enjoyed right across the whole country."
The Government has also set out plans to establish 20 new coastal communities teams to help boost the fortunes of seaside towns.