Sport, Tourism and Heritage Minister Tracey Crouch visited Swindon to witness how heritage initiatives and tourism are supporting growth in the town.
The minister visited the headquarters of the National Trust and English Heritage, where she learnt about the wide variety of careers on offer that support tourism and the huge contributions these organisations have made to the development of tourism in the UK.
The minister said: “It’s been a fascinating visit to Swindon today and it has been wonderful to have the opportunity to learn more about the rich railway heritage of the town. The things that have been done here are just the sort of ideas that will help encourage visitors to travel beyond London and into the regions.
“The Steam museum and the surrounding area is a great example of how buildings can be transformed with sensitivity to the environment and help boost the local economy. It’s not all about funding, these things have to be done in partnership with local businesses.
“Our heritage is a huge draw for tourists from both home and abroad and the wealth of exciting local projects like the Great West Way – a visitor friendly route from London to Bristol – will help to encourage even more people to stay in this wonderful part of the world.”
The Minister also attended the Great West Way Stakeholder Engagement Conference in Chippenham, where she met local businesses to hear about the completion of the first phase of the Discover England Fund project to create a new tourism route through the area.
In August 2016, the first grants from the £40 million Discover England fund were awarded to projects and organisations across the country, including the Great West Way, to create offers that can attract tourism outside of London.
2015 was a record year for Wiltshire tourism – the fourth in a row – with staying visits, visitor spend and economic impact all at record levels.
Tourism contributes £860m GVA per annum to Wiltshire’s economy and in 2015 there were 261,090 international visits to Wiltshire.