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The South West Tourism Alliance’s (SWTA) primary function is to lobby in support of the visitor economy in the South West of England. We have identified several major areas where the Government could significantly improve the business climate for all businesses in the South West, not just tourism businesses, therefore boosting the regional economy still further.


  • Safe and Legal’ campaign: Over 30 key industry organisations have come together to crowdfund a campaign to get a legal opinion on how some internet platforms allow paid for accommodation to be advertised that is not ‘safe and legal’ and then hide behind terms and conditions that say that they do not claim that the property is safe, legal or even exists. We do not believe that this is in the Consumers interests, and the explosion of properties now available, over 200,000 at the last estimate, is having a material impact on the ‘safe and legal’ sector. We are looking for a radical review of how Rural and Coastal Business Rates are applied. The recent ratings review has hit small businesses really hard, with self-catering amongst the hardest hit with average rises of over 55%

  • The improvement of rail links in and out of the region, with particular consideration for increased resilience at the known weak points.


  • We are looking for further improvements to the A303 from Ilminster to Honiton, and to the North Devon Link Road, with particular attention to known black spots and choke points. We want successive Governments to stand by their promises of dualling the A303 past Stonehenge.


  • We want to Government to maintain a level playing field for regulation, either ALL small businesses in the hospitality sector have to comply, or the Government allows dispensation for smaller businesses.


  • The provision of sufficient Broadband for each and every rural and coastal business in the South West. This has to be enough for the visitors to businesses too.


  • We are fully supportive of the Cut Tourism VAT campaign, to bring rates of VAT applied to tourism businesses in line with all our major European competitors.


  • We want to see further common-sense changes to rules governing taking children out of school in term time.  A growing number of employment contracts in the South West restrict employees from taking holidays in school holidays; as a result, the employees cannot legally have holidays with their school age children.


  • We also believe it is time to remove the loophole that enables second homes to register for Business Rates, and then not pay any as they fall under the £12,000 threshold, therefore depriving Local Councils of valuable Community Charge income.


SWTA is also a Member of two important lobbying groups.  The national Tourism Alliance, of which Alistair Handyside, the Chairman of SWTA is also a board director. The Tourism Alliance lobbies Government on national issues affecting tourism businesses.  We are also Members of the Peninsula Rail Task Force, which is focused on securing improvements to the rail structure in the South West.

We attend a huge number of meetings during the year to lobby on the above list and have gained a strong reputation for being focused and consistent in our approach.  We lobby at the highest levels possible and frequently meet with officials, Ministers and Visit England/Visit Britain.  Feedback on these meetings is published via newsletters and our Twitter account.

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