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VisitEngland and Hilton Worldwide host summer reception to celebrate Hospitality sector contribution to tourism

VisitEngland and Hilton Worldwide hosted their third annual summer reception at The Trafalgar Hotel, this week. The 2015 theme focused on the important role England’s regional food and drink plays in tourism and its enormous contribution to the economy. Guests included The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport John Whittingdale, Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch ‘leading figures’ from the tourism, arts, heritage and sports worlds.

The Summer Party provided an opportunity to celebrate the chefs and apprentices who are at the heart of the industry. They make a vital contribution to tourism and to England’s offer; enticing visitors at home and abroad. Each region of England boasts its own signature dishes and Hilton Worldwide’s apprentice chefs prepared a selection of English food throughout the evening. 

Earlier this year VisitEngland announced figures highlighting the shortage of skilled chefs across the country during English Tourism Week (14-22 March). Nearly half, (47 per cent) of vacancies for chefs proved difficult to fill due to a lack of skilled applicants and chefs made up a fifth (21 per cent) of all skill shortage vacancies for skilled trades, suggesting that businesses are struggling to recruit the skilled chefs they need. The aim was to encourage young people to enter the industry and in particular, consider being a chef as a career option. English tourism is predicted to be one of the biggest drivers of economic growth over the next decade, already worth £106bn (9% of total GDP) supporting 2.6m jobs. By 2025 the value of tourism in England is set to double to over £216bn, providing 1 in every 10 jobs.

The ‘Chefs of England’, were also announced winners of this year’s prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award at VisitEngland’s Awards for Excellence ceremony held at The Sage Gateshead in May, in honor of the increasing number of English ‘foodie’ destinations across the country.  

Lady Cobham, Chairman of VisitEngland said “It is wonderful to be partnering again with Hilton Worldwide for our annual summer reception. The food and drink theme for the evening is fitting; with England’s growing reputation for high quality food served across the country; enticing visitors from both home and abroad. The event was a fantastic way to celebrate all that is great about English tourism and an opportunity to toast our recently published first quarter figures. 19.7 million trips were recorded in England between January and March this year, the highest number of trips recorded during the first quarter for seven years. Expenditure also increased by 24% in total to £3.5 billion compared to 2014. These figures are encouraging and we are quietly confident that the fantastic number of sporting, cultural and foodie events taking place across the country this summer and the rest of the year will continue to boost the industry – we are hopeful a for bumper summer for English tourism.”

Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said: “England's world-beating food and drink industry is a hugely important draw for tourists and for our national culture. By training the next generation of chefs through apprenticeships we build a bright future for UK tourism and create great career opportunities at the same time.

“The record £21.8bn from inbound visits in 2014 and the growth in staycations in the first part of this year show UK tourism is in a strong position, but we aren’t complacent. That’s why we are continuing to invest in UK tourism and working with the industry to improve skills.”

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