Priti calls for tourism support
Witham MP Priti has spoken up in support of the tourism sector in Essex and the Witham constituency during a debate in Parliament. Referencing the Museum of Power in Langford, Tollesbury and Wilkin and Sons in Tiptree Priti spoke of the contribution that the tourism and hospitality sector makes to the local economy and job creation. During her speech she also called on the Government to support the sector by having a flexible labour market to help recruitment and to invest in key transport infrastructure, including the A12, A120 and rail services, to help attract more tourists to the County. Priti said:
“Tourism plays a vital role in our local economy supporting over 60,000 jobs across the County and adding more than £3 billion of value to our economy. We have some outstanding attractions and places to visit right on our doorstep in the Witham constituency. Colchester Zoo, the Museum of Power, Layer Marney Tower and Wilkin and Sons are just some of those great places and we also have many more restaurants, bars and hotels we can all support as the weather gets better and the tourism season starts.”
“These businesses and attractions do a great job bringing people into our County but they need more help from Government. We need to get behind our tourism and hospitality sector and I am pressing the Government to invest in our roads and rail services as a way to give them a boost and support wider economic growth.”
Copy of Priti’s speech:
20 March 2019, Westminster Hall Debate, 4.09 pm
Priti Patel (Witham) (Con)
It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Will Quince) on securing this important debate. It fills all our hearts—and I would like to think those of our constituents—with joy and optimism to celebrate the culture, heritage, community and, importantly, diversity we share across the east of England. My hon. Friend is my constituency neighbour and we share the borough of Colchester. It was a real joy to hear him speak about the positive aspects of tourism in Colchester borough, many of which we share, and stand up for tourism and hospitality more widely, which, as he said, have real economic benefits.
I would like briefly to make a number of key points. The hospitality sector is pivotal to the tourism ecosystem across the east of England, including in Witham, which is urban, rural and coastal. Tourism has many guises, and hospitality comes in many forms, including pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants. We should pay tribute to the people who work sometimes very long and difficult hours in pressurised circumstances in the hospitality sector. If I may say so, the hospitality sector in Essex in particular is enormous. It is based very much on seasonal work and on individuals working incredibly hard to produce great outputs and make a strong contribution to both our local economy and the national economy. That boosts tourism not only in our constituencies but in the region and the wider country.
My hon. Friend mentioned one of the finest products in the country: Wilkin & Sons Tiptree jams and conserves. That is now an international export; it is well known not only in the House of Commons but in some of the finest establishments—hotels and shops—around the world. Wilkin & Sons, which is based in the village of Tiptree in the Witham constituency and the Colchester borough, is a stunning example of a family business that has gone from success to success and expanded internationally. It contributes to many aspects of tourism; it has tea shops and farms, and it is a magnet for tourists. At the same time, it employs people in the local community and sells the great Tiptree brand internationally, boosting our standing in the world and generating tourism to the region and our country. Of course, there are many other attractions in the area, including the Museum of Power in Langford in my constituency, and Tollesbury on the coast, which are all known for the great contribution they make to the tourism sector.
Let me make two final points. I mentioned employment and seasonal work, which are pivotal to ensuring that constituencies such as mine have a thriving tourism economy. At the same time, the hospitality sector needs a flexible labour market and flexibility about how it recruits and trains workers—migrant workers in particular. The Government are testing a seasonal agricultural workers scheme, which will absolutely affect the east of England and we hope will have a positive impact on tourism, hospitality and the agriculture economy—that attracts tourism, too—in the region.
Finally, there have been many debates in Westminster Hall about infrastructure in the eastern region and in Essex. My hon. Friend rightly pivoted to the A12, the A120 and the rest of our road network. If our economy is to grow and the tourism sector is to be successful, we need much more investment in infrastructure. The Government need to lean in and influence local authorities in particular to stick to their pledges to support investment in the expansion of the A12, followed by the A120, which the Government have indicated their backing for in the past, to ensure that tourism continues to thrive and grow.