Policy round-up: February 2020
February may be the shortest month, but it’s been jam packed for the policy team. With a flurry of new ministerial appointments, and some surprises in the cabinet reshuffle, we’ve been busy writing to Ministers and MPs and meeting officials as the Spring Budget draws closer. We were pleased to welcome Oliver Dowden as Culture Secretary and Nigel Huddleston as Heritage Minister, both of whom we look forward to working with closely in the coming months.
At the start of the month we paid a visit to the National Trust’s London office to take part in The Tourism Alliance’s sustainable tourism seminar. The afternoon featured a diverse range of speakers who highlighted the key challenges of climate change for visitor destinations and showcased innovative ideas for a greener future, from subtropical gardens to high-tech visitor tracking apps. We’re planning much more in this area for 2020; stay tuned for updates, advice, and features on the innovative sustainability projects our members are already undertaking (here’s one great example at Deans Court in Dorset).
The Heritage Alliance’s AGM and annual Heritage Day event was another highlight of the month, held this year at the New Royal Armouries in the iconic Tower of London. Delegates heard from a range of speakers from across the historic environment sector, including the new Heritage Minister, Nigel Huddleston, and our own Director General, Ben Cowell. It was good to see the minister shine a light on the crucial role of independent owners in his first speech to the heritage sector, highlighting the “great honour and great responsibility” that our members hold as custodians of such important parts of the national heritage.
Looking ahead to the spring, we have our fingers crossed for brighter weather as MPs and MSPs visit our member houses throughout March and April to mark Scottish Tourism Month and English Tourism Week – with Welsh Tourism Week following in May. These events celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of the UK’s tourism sector, and shine a well-deserved spotlight on the immense contribution tourism sites make to the economy and to their local communities. More information is available on the VisitBritain website. If you would like to invite your local MP to visit your house or garden during Scottish Tourism Month, English Tourism Week or Welsh Tourism Week, please get in touch with one of us and we would be happy to help you arrange this.
Last but by no means least, we are grateful to all house members who completed our 2019 annual survey. We’re busy crunching the numbers to update the key facts and figures we use day in, day out as part of our lobbying work. The information you provide through this member survey is invaluable in helping us to demonstrate the economic and social value of independent heritage for local communities and the wider nation, and provides vital evidence to support our policy campaigns. We will shortly be launching a new ‘key stats’ infographic based on the member survey results, which you can look out for on the policy section of the website.
Emma and Lydia, the policy team