Promoting Forest tourism

Tourism is an important industry for our local economy in the Forest of Dean. As your local Member of Parliament, I often visit local businesses that are either actively promoting local tourism, or are dependent on tourism for their success.

Recently, I was pleased to be asked to speak at the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tourism Forum at Gloucestershire College’s Berry Hill campus, which discussed some of the issues that are important for ensuring the sector remains vibrant.

The event was organised by Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism Association and I am always pleased to support the team, led very ably by Executive Officer Maureen McAllister, with the good work they do promoting our area.

During my section, I spoke about a range of topics, as well as taking a number of questions. I spoke about the progress that the local County Council is making to ensure everyone in Gloucestershire has access to fast broadband by 2020 (a matter I covered in my column last week). This is an important matter not just for local residents, but also for local businesses - a number of whom attended the event.

One of the schemes the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism Association is taking a lead on is providing Shared Apprenticeships opportunities. This project enables smaller businesses in the tourism sector to share an apprentice, meaning the cost is shared, and the apprentice benefits from a wide ranging opportunity. I have already written to Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, to make her aware of this excellent initiative. Having spoken to the Association’s first apprentice, the scheme provides valuable opportunities to allow local people to get experience in this sector.

I will continue to support our tourism sector, as I pledged at the Forum. If you are reading this and run a local tourism business, and would be interested in me visiting you, discussing your experiences, and helping promote your business, please do get in touch by emailing mark.harper.mp@parliament.uk