In the recently circulated and very useful comparative table of tourism related manifesto promises the conservative commitment to create a replacement for EU structural funding was overlooked as may have been oTHER Party’s related promises. All too easily done due to the scale of the Party documents produced this time round. In light of the critical importance of past structural funding to tourism I thought it was worth highlighting the Conservative comment. It’s mentioned on page 30 in passing and again in slightly more detail on page 37 of their manifesto:
United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund:
We believe in one nation – in helping every part of our country share in the prosperity and opportunity of our great United Kingdom. Yet there is much to do. Current EU-wide
structural funding was designed to tackle disparities but it is expensive to administer
and poorly targeted. As we leave the European Union, we must look at how we can better
reduce and eliminate these inequalities.
We will use the structural fund money that comes back to the UK following Brexit to create
a United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund, specifically designed to reduce inequalities
between communities across our four nations. The money that is spent will help deliver
sustainable, inclusive growth based on our modern industrial strategy. We will consult
widely on the design of the fund, including with the devolved administrations, local
authorities, businesses and public bodies. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be cheap
to administer, low in bureaucracy and targeted where it is needed most.
If we do get a Conservative administration post 8 June and I am making no predictions here, this is an area where there may be a window of opportunity for tourism and for destination management, in particular, to make a strong case for structural funding, hence me flagging up the potential now. That said whatever colour of administration we end up with, a strong case will need to be made for a new more efficient UK replacement for EU structural funding, just as a case will also need to be made for a new and more effective UK replacement for CAP and rural structural funding, in rural areas and within it both a strong case for tourism, public infrastructure and associated destination management and marketing. Forewarned is forearmed.