Tourism is a huge part of this country’s economy and our cultural offer is a huge part of why tourists visit the UK in increasing numbers.
As the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism I travel around the UK when I can to support heritage sites, leading tourist attractions or other cultural locations such as museums and arts centres.
In doing this, I am keen to visit places all around the UK and not just traditional cultural hotspots like London – this is why I have visited over 20 towns and cities since being appointed to this role in January. In the past three weeks I have continued to visit parts of the UK by visiting West Yorkshire, Edinburgh and Northern Ireland.
In Yorkshire, I visited a variety of great initiatives and institutions such as the Bronte Parsonage Museum, celebrating the work of the Bronte sisters.
I also visited “Eureka! The National Children’s Museum” in Halifax which is the only specifically child-oriented museum in the country. I was pleased to hear about the great work being done by Eureka! Museum, particularly on the subject of inclusion. The Museum have won awards for their inclusivity, particularly for their work to help people with special educational needs and disabilities. I met a family who regularly travel from some distance to visit the museum and it is clear that great work is being done there.
I also visited a local arts community hub in Keighley to discuss their recent work. I was particularly impressed by a cultural regeneration project currently ongoing in Halifax which includes a refurbishment of Piece Hall – a Grade I listed 18th century building which was a former cloth hall, which is now the sole survivor of the eighteenth century boom of northern cloth halls, a true remnant of British textile history.
Following this, I travelled to Edinburgh for the International Culture Summit, a summit which brought together Culture Ministers and representatives from 45 countries around the world, as well as artists, academics, and arts leaders from around the world to share expertise and ideas as well as to inspire positive change in cultural policy.
Over three days I hosted a roundtable and met visiting ministers to discuss policy in the UK and what we can do to promote and support the development of the arts as well as meeting my counterparts from other Commonwealth countries.
I also enjoyed a visit to Edinburgh Castle to see the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The Tattoo is an annual series of performances by members of the Armed Forces performed by the British, Commonwealth and international military bands and performance teams. The Tattoo was very entertaining and showed the great cooperation that our Armed Forces have with forces all around the world.
In Belfast I held a meeting with tourism leaders to discuss how best to support their tourism offer, which in turn will be a continued boost to the economy in Northern Ireland.