Discover England Fund open for bids

The three-year £40 million Discover England Fund, announced by Government last year, will ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing global tourism industry, by offering world-class English tourism products to the right customers at the right time.

In year one the fund will focus on:

  • Smaller-scale quick-win projects and pilots that meet customer demand and test new product or new ways of joining up and distributing existing product
  • Research to build understanding of customers, markets and product gaps
  • Seed funding to build bids for years 2 and 3.

VisitEngland is now calling for bids from destinations and businesses of all sizes who want to be the first to set how they can use this money to deliver bookable product that appeals to international visitors. We would also expect this investment to benefit the domestic market.

The fund will support the growth of one of England’s most successful export industries, inbound tourism. Tourism is an industry that delivers jobs and economic growth across the English regions - generating £106 billion a year and employing over 2 million people, with a strong domestic market. England has seen record tourism spend in the past year from both domestic and international visitors. The number of domestic overnight trips taken in England grew by 11% in 2015 while inbound visits have shown strong regional growth in the first nine months of 2015 – plus 23% to North East, plus 12% to the North West and plus 6% to the South West for example.

To continue to achieve such growth is not without its challenges, as the way customers choose and book their holidays changes. More and more destinations recognise the strong growth potential of inbound tourism so that our customers from traditional markets see new places to explore, while the strongest growth comes from markets that do not know much about England and may have different expectations. London continues to have global appeal and be an easy sell, but we need to ensure that visitors explore all of England and experience the wealth of attractions that we offer – at the moment 54% of international visitor spend is in London. Our transport connections don’t make this exploration easy – we know that international visitors are nervous of driving on the ‘wrong side’ of the road. And of course customers now expect to book online, use distributors and comparison websites, and see availability even at short notice – so we need to be tech and digitally savvy as an industry to stay ahead of the curve.

The Discover England Fund will tackle these challenges head on.

For year one, applications for funding of up £250,000 will be considered for projects to be delivered by 31 March 2017. Bids should show collaboration across businesses and sectors or join up product effectively to make a compelling offer for visitors to access and book, either direct or via intermediaries. Projects that make it easier for visitors to travel around the country, as well as digital and technical solutions that respond to trends and consumer demands will also be considered.

Bids will be reviewed in monthly cycles from 31 May, with successful submissions from the May round being announced in July 2016. So you are encouraged to submit your bid as soon as possible. Full details on how and when to apply, guidance and criteria, and other support material is available online under

We anticipate that we will ask for expressions of interest for longer-term projects (Years 2 and 3, to be delivered by 31 March 2018 and 31 March 2019) from July – October 2016.

Coastal Tourism - £8bn to English economy

The National Coastal Tourism Academy have just published their new report – 2016 Coastal Tourism which reveals the current status of coastal tourism in England. A must read for everyone working in seaside tourism!
It builds on their 2015 report and demonstrates that coastal tourism has regained its pole position as England’s largest domestic sector for overnight holiday trips. According to the National Coastal Tourism Academy, the coastal tourism industry is now worth £8bn to the economy, with 13.7m seaside trips, representing nearly one third of all overnight holiday stays in England.
The coast has also seen a rise in short-breaks. But growth is fragile, seaside resorts face stiff competition from city breaks.
However, the report highlights multiple opportunities for growth by increasing off-peak visitors, focusing on the over 55 age group and developing a health and wellness product. The research also highlights a need for stronger communication with clear messages carefully targeted for their audience. 
Read the key findings and recommendations by downloading the full report here

Visit Britain | Visit England

As the national tourism agency – a non-departmental public body funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), VisitBritain/VisitEngland plays a unique role in building England’s tourism product, raising Britain’s profile worldwide, increasing the volume and value of tourism exports and developing England and Britain’s visitor economy.

Working with a wide range of partners in both the UK and overseas, our mission is to grow the volume and value of inbound tourism across the nations and regions of Britain and to develop world-class English tourism product to support our growth aspirations.

Developing world-class English tourism product

Our VisitEngland activity is focused on the development and delivery of the Discover England fund, announced by the Government in November 2015, which aims to drive inbound visits and spend and support the domestic market through the delivery of world-class, stand-out, bookable tourism products.

Collaborating globally

Meanwhile, VisitBritain’s extensive network connects us with a global audience across four regions - Europe, the Americas, Asia, China and North East Asia – serviced by offices around the world.

Insights - Understanding the English tourism landscape

Need the latest information about the size and the value of the English tourism market? Need the latest business performance trends or to find out who your visitors are and what they think?

Explore domestic overnight and day visitor data or take a look at our Research A-Z, which lists our research alphabetically by research topic. You can also take a look at our research timetable to find out when the next set of results will be released.

Inbound research & insights

Need to know how inbound tourism is performing? Looking to understand the competitive tourism landscape, uncover trends and the importance of different market sectors?

Explore the latest quarterly data for the UK overall and by area as well as trends in inbound visitors using our interactive graphs and charts. Discover more about specific sectors as well as the conditions impacting on tourism and Britain's competitive position.


For further information on VisitEngland’s work with LEPs contact Anke Monestel, Head of England Partner Engagement (, 020 7578 1432).

On 17 July 2015, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s 5 point plan to boost tourism across the UK, committing not only to promote the UK as a GREAT place to visit for international visitors, but also to expand and develop the offer to tourists to spread the benefits of its growth across the country.

A new inter-ministerial group is to be formed with the aim of co-ordinating and aligning action across Government to ensure that Britain has the right infrastructure in place to make it easy for visitors to discover the best of what this country has to offer.

The group is to be headed by the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, and to include ministers from across Government, including the Department for Communities and Local Government, BIS, DEFRA, Home Office, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Ministers from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments will also be invited to join the group when relevant.


In a report published on Thursday 26 March 2015, Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee says the central role of tourism in the economic activity and life of the country is not given sufficient recognition. 

The tourism sector, a massive conglomeration of diverse businesses and organisations, contributes billions of pounds to the British economy and sustains millions of jobs. Yet too often, Government fails to factor tourism into its wider decision-making.

The Committee concludes:

  • support for tourism in England was damaged by the abolition of the Regional Development Agencies without putting in place adequate arrangements for tourism promotion
  • with sufficient resources, VisitEngland is well placed to move more decisively into the organisational vacuum left by the abolition of the Regional Development Agencies and the Regional Tourist Boards,  and could better coordinate the disparate efforts of some 200 local Destination Management Organisations
  • VisitBritain has shown marked success in attracting overseas visitors, but should remain alert to the need to leverage even more the undoubted lure of London to bring more visitors to other parts of the United Kingdom
  • the GREAT Campaign continues to demonstrate its originality and vitality: funding for this campaign needs to be confirmed for a longer period
  • further improvements to visa processing and cost reductions are needed
  • long before it becomes feasible to increase airport capacity in South East England, regional airports could be better promoted to encourage visitors to the UK in general and the regions in particular
  • reductions in VAT and Air Passenger Duty would make the UK offer even better value for money to holidaymakers, business travellers and students: the Government should give full consideration to this.
  • too many regulations are ill-fitted to the world of small businesses that characterise much of the tourism industry:  the Government should take forward with greater speed the recommendations of the Tourism Regulation Taskforce, updated as necessary
  • training arrangements and apprenticeships should be better adapted to the features that make many tourism businesses unique, such as seasonality, scale and uncertainty in customer demand.
  • in view of the potential benefits, not least to the tourism industry, of daylight saving time, we recommend that the Government commissions a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, including the research needed to properly inform this. 
  • many tourism businesses are small and struggle to have their voices heard: giving people like professional tourist guides a voice on the Tourism Industry Council would be a step forward, but most important of all, tourism needs a stronger voice in Government. 

John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “The tourism sector is a major part of the UK’s economy and creates millions of jobs, involving a lot of small businesses and unique features such as seasonality and uncertainty in customer demand. Given the size of its contribution, there is not enough recognition of or support for the sector or adaptations to its unique features. Tourism needs a stronger voice, and Government should look at how the burden of regulation and taxation on the tourism industry could be lightened to boost its contribution even further.”