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New rail pass and vouchers for tourist attractions part of tourism recovery plan

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A new rail pass and vouchers for tourist attractions are part of a plan to return domestic tourism to pre-pandemic levels next year.

The £10m voucher scheme will be launched by The National Lottery this autumn to encourage people to travel within the UK after the peak summer season.

Players will have the chance to claim vouchers for tourist attractions in the UK between September this year and March 2022.

The rail pass will be launched later this year and will be based on the BritRail pass, which is sold to international tourists and gives them flexible travel across the country, as well as discounted entry to attractions.

Other developments include:

• The government will look at how tourism data collected at the border can support the sector

• Creation of a tourism data hub to track trends in travel such as outdoors tourism or sustainable experiences

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• A sustainable tourism plan to be completed later this year looking at way to reduce the impact of tourism on the environment while balancing this with the sector’s economic benefits

• A consultation on the introduction of a Tourist Accommodation Registration Scheme in England

The tourism sector has been one of the worst-hit during the coronavirus pandemic, with people in the UK under stay-at-home orders for large parts of the past 18 months.

Even now, with people able to travel around the UK, the uncertainty over whether restrictions might be re-imposed and the much smaller numbers of tourists from overseas have meant the sector’s recovery is slow.

Tourism, hospitality and leisure businesses have received more than £25bn in grants, loans and tax breaks, the government said.

But there are many events planned for next year that could bring a boost to the sector – the Queen’s platinum jubilee which will include an extra bank holiday, Festival UK 2022, and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston MP said: “Our brilliant tourism sector is one of our country’s greatest assets, making a huge contribution to our economy and delivering jobs across all communities.

“This is why we’ve provided it with £25bn in support so far during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Tourism Recovery Plan is our blueprint for how the sector can build back better from the pandemic, even faster than forecasts predict.

“It has been a challenging year for the tourism sector, especially for our cities, but I know they stand ready to welcome visitors back and I encourage everyone to rediscover the UK’s fantastic tourism offer.”

Visit Britain chairman Lord Patrick McLoughlin welcomed the plan, saying: “Tourism is a critical industry, a powerhouse of innovation, creativity and employment, injecting cash into the economy with a track record for growth and levelling-up, supporting local economies in every part of the UK and strengthening our place on the world stage.

“By working together to drive demand and build back visitor spend as quickly as possible we can emerge from the pandemic and also look towards a brighter future building an industry that is more resilient, sustainable, inclusive and innovative.”