An analysis by the Government of UK economic prospects post-Covid has identified the importance for our economic recovery of services generally and tourism in particular. Meanwhile a separate study by tourism bodies has looked into attracting foreign tourists.
With the long-term decline of manufacturing in the UK, services now account for a large part of the economic activity of the country. London’s financial services face stiff competition from New York and from growing European centres such as Amsterdam and Frankfurt, so the Government’s attention is now turning to hospitality including tourism, in particular foreign tourists and the foreign currency they bring.
Tourism bodies have taken up the challenge and have produced an outline plan for 2022 with the slogan “Visit Britain – past and present”. Consideration was given to promoting iconic tourist attractions in London such as the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge but it was thought that foreign tourists will always be attracted to London, and promotion should be directed elsewhere. Three themes have been chosen for the publicity campaigns planned for abroad: thatched cottages, Morris dancing and our road traffic signs with their Roman and medieval measurement units.
In preparation, the British Thatching Society has been asked to identify outstanding examples of thatched roofs around the country and villages where there are groups of thatched cottages. Morris dancing clubs have been alerted and invited to provide details of their activities. Britain’s road traffic signs with measurements which are incomprehensible to most foreign tourists can, of course, be found everywhere and will be a constant reminder of a country living in the past: the mile goes back to the Roman occupation of Britain almost 2000 years ago; the yard, which is used on road signs nowhere else in the world, the foot and the inch have their origins in the Middle Ages.
So as lockdown, hopefully, becomes a distant memory, if you wish to enhance tourists’ experience of Britain, then dig out from the loft great grandpa’s top hat or great grandma’s bonnet, and brush up on how many feet there are in a yard and yards in a mile, just in case you are stopped by a lost or confused visitor from overseas.