Skegness and Boston MP, Matt Warman, discusses the growth of Skegness as a key tourist hub and how local operators can best represent their interests in parliament and beyond.
Ensuring key issues for the amusements, leisure and hospitality industries are heard in the higher echelons of government is a challenging task, but one that can heavily influence the macroeconomic environment of seaside resorts.
Indeed, this is the challenge for politicians such as Matt Warman, MP for Skegness and Boston, who believes that the most important political impetus for seaside operators is encouragement to invest from Westminster.
“We’ve got to make sure there is appropriate government support for people who want to invest in their operation,” he commented.
The Conservative MP is standing for re-election next week in a high profile head to head with UKIP leader Paul Nuttall. And seaside regeneration sits high on his agenda as he explained the importance of the continued extension of tourist visas and the tourist season, as well as ensuring that people get the best from their local representative and local planning department – amongst other ‘real world’ approaches are crucial to spearheading further growth in the coastal economy.
Regarding the campaign to cut tourism VAT, Warman believes managing expectations and strong communication is key.
“It’s down to making the case for it. It’s no secret that the treasury has not been keen on this plan so far,” he commented. “I think what we’ve got to do is find a new way of making the case in such a way that it convinces them or we say ‘actually, this is something we can’t do, what are other things we can look at that can benefit the tourist industry?’”
Warman added that it is crucial that the unique position of coastal communities is emphasised on a government level.
“We’ve got to make sure that we continue from a parliamentary point of view, that we make the case for recognising that the coastal communities have a unique set of circumstances, therefore they need special attention to ensure they get the right kind of investment,” commented Warman. “Skegness demonstrates that if you can get it right, then the great British seaside holiday is alive and doing better than ever!”
Warman was quick to encourage local operators to work together with local MPs to ensure a tailored solution to challenges, such as that of infrastructure, which he stated is key to the tourism industry as a whole.
“It’s about things like roads, broadband, water supply or really basic kind of stuff. That’s what is at the back of all the expansion that we need,” he said. “And if we get that right it doesn’t just encourage the tourist industry, it encourages the whole country as well. We’ve got to make the case for investing. Whether it’s things that might seem trivial like cutting the grass, or major such as tackling homelessness, all of those factors have a huge effect in a tourist economy. Those things set the tone. You can’t breed tourism in isolation.”