THE BLOG

Pfizer Grabs Headlines But Tourism Is the Industry to Watch

03/06/2014 13:02 BST | Updated 02/08/2014 10:59 BST

British tourism is an export industry which can't be sold to the highest bidder and shipped overseas. Pfizer's bid for AstraZeneca has flooded Britain's news channels, eclipsing the air time given to many other valuable sectors.

The pharmaceutical industry in the UK is worth £30 billion and employs 70,000 people. How does tourism compare?

Many of the important industries typically featured in the news - automotive, aerospace, communications, food and, indeed, pharmaceuticals - are actually dwarfed by the tourism industry in terms of overall value to the economy and, most significantly, job creation.

Tourism supported 3.1 million jobs throughout the UK in 2013 (9.6% of UK employment) and accounted for one third of net increase in UK jobs between 2010 and 2012 (175,000 additional jobs). Tourism is the UK's fifth largest export earner and tax paid by international visitors alone amounts to £6.5 billion (Deloitte).

International tourism is an industry at which Britain continues to compete. We are seeing growth not only from our traditional markets such as France and Germany but from the new economic growth countries of the world such as China and Brazil. And the economic value of tourism is spread right across Britain, with the value of international tourism to Scotland jumping by 20% last year and by 15% across the rest of England.

It is a sector that is continuously adding value to the economy. It is currently worth £127bn and is set to grow 3.8% per annum - faster than manufacturing, construction, retail and pharmaceuticals. The amount international tourists spent in the UK reached its highest ever level last year - £21 billion - and that growth is continuing in 2014.

Tourism is vital to the long term prospects of the nation. Happily, it is a strong and stable contributor to the exchequer and Britain's amazing natural assets - centuries of history and tradition, a royal family followed around the world, world-renowned music and fashion, beautiful countryside - will always weather economic storms.

So, whilst mergers and acquisitions may continue to make the headlines, tourism will continue to provide a consistent and valuable contribution to wealth creation and jobs for the nation. And it will never face the risk of being bought and taken overseas. Tourism isn't going anywhere, and if developed with marketing and Government policy working hand in hand, it's Britain's economy that will reap the rewards.