Campaign for Trafalgar Day gains momentum - when would you like the May Day Bank Holiday moved to?
PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 March 2011 | UPDATED: 14:48 04 March 2011
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Norfolk could soon be celebrating a bank holiday in honour of one of the county’s most famous sons, under plans to boost Britain’s tourist industry.
A blueprint published today, which aims to bring an additional four million visitors to Britain and create 50,000 extra jobs over the next four years, includes plans to scrap the first bank holiday in May.
The coalition government will consult people on whether they want to move the bank holiday day to mark St George’s Day in April or Trafalgar Day in October in a bid to extend the tourism season.
The bank holiday policy was welcomed by regional tourism chiefs last night, which could result in the creation of a national day in the autumn half-term to commemorate military victories such as Trafalgar and Norfolk-born hero Horatio Nelson.
However, the overall tourism strategy received a mixed response. The proposals do not include plans to bring Britain in line with most of Europe by moving the clocks forward to “double summertime” following calls from tourism bosses, safety and environmental campaigners for an extra hour of evening daylight.
The strategy looks to exploit the economic opportunities presented by next year’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, and boost the £90bn a year industry by an extra £2bn.
Richard Ellis, chairman of Norfolk Tourism, said he welcomed the government’s recognition of the importance of the sector, but the policy lacked detailed proposals.
“Tourism is capable of creating jobs quickly by doing the right things. There is significant potential for increased domestic tourism and holidaying at home. I think a bank holiday in October would be sensible and if it were named Trafalgar Day it would be good for Norfolk with its Nelson connections, and we can build on that,” he said.
Mr Ellis added that he was not sure how the country would create more tourist jobs if Visit England and Visit Britain budgets were being slashed by 35pc.
There is likely to be no change to Britain’s bank holiday calendar until 2013 following consultation. Other key parts of the strategy include:
• improving staff skills through more tourism apprenticeships and courses.
• making tourist visas simpler, faster and more convenient to obtain.
• broadening Britain’s tourism offer by promoting destinations outside of London.
• helping the industry prepare for changes in technology.
• creating an industry task force to cut red tape.
• scrapping the hotel star rating system.
Tourism minister John Penrose said: “As a nation we are a little bit prone to underplay what we have on our doorstep. The industry has a fantastic chance to step up a further gear and make an even greater contribution to our national recovery.”
Keith Brown, chief executive for East of England Tourism, added that he welcomed the government’s localism agenda. He added that the introduction of “double summertime” would be a good thing for the industry, but there were more important issues.
“We are very heavily involved with Local Enterprise Partnerships to make sure that tourism delivery in this area both meets the need of businesses and what visitors are looking for. The policy is good, but it is how we make it happen,” he said.
Unions have already launched a “Hands off May Day” campaign calling for Britain to have more bank holidays.