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Experience Oxfordshire welcomes Tourism Minister to the county to celebrate English Tourism Week 2024

25 Mar 24 | Uncategorised

Experience Oxfordshire the county’s destination management organisation and official Local Visitor Economy Partnership* was delighted to welcome Tourism Minister, Julia Lopez MP, to Oxfordshire during English Tourism Week to visit two outstanding examples of the investment behind the county’s success as a visitor destination.

Starting at the Schwarzman Centre, the Minister was given a hardhat tour of the site of Oxford’s new “home for the humanities”. Planned for completion in 2025, the centre will be home for the University’s humanities faculties, the Oxford Internet Institute and the Institute for Ethics and AI and a new humanities library along with state-of-the-art academic, exhibition and performance spaces.

Professor Dan Grimley, Head of Humanities at the University of Oxford said: “This project has been made possible by gifts totalling £185 million from philanthropist and businessman Stephen A. Schwarzman and demonstrates the humanities’ essential role in helping society address the fundamental questions of the 21st century. It will be a hive of cutting-edge teaching, innovation and co-creation, animated by a rich programme of performance and events inspired by Oxford research. We look forward to working with Experience Oxfordshire in the coming months and welcoming new and varied audiences to the centre in 2025.”

In the afternoon the Minister spent time at the iconic Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, A Belmond Hotel where with Chef Patron, Raymond Blanc OBE and his team discussed issues affecting the hospitality sector with the Minister and described the innovative responses Le Manoir has implemented.  The hotel has long been a champion of sustainability in the restaurant sector and renowned for its work encouraging young people to consider work and careers in hospitality.

Raymond Blanc OBE said: “It was a pleasure to meet with the Minister here at Le Manoir to hear of her support for our sector and to share with her our experiences of operating in a highly competitive international marketplace.

“Here in Oxfordshire we are fortunate in welcoming visitors from across the globe and commend Experience Oxfordshire for their work in promoting the county and its venues here at home and internationally.”

Following her visit Tourism Minister Julia Lopez MP said: “English Tourism Week is all about celebrating the hard work that goes into showcasing our fantastic country to the millions of visitors who come here every year.

“From the fascinating history of the University of Oxford, to the first-class dining and hospitality at places like Le Manoir, it is no surprise that Oxfordshire is one of England’s top tourist locations. It’s been brilliant to visit the county and meet some of the incredible people who make our tourism industry so valuable to visitors, communities and the local economy. 

“We’re committed to helping the sector be the best it’s ever been and, with government support like business rates relief and the £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund, I am confident we’ll retain our status as one of the best visitor destinations in the world.”

Accompanying the Minister on her visit was Patricia Yates, CEO of VisitBritain/VisitEngland. Commenting on Oxfordshire’s potential as a visitor destination she said: “I am delighted to be back in Oxfordshire during English Tourism Week. The county is one of the reasons England shines so brightly on the global stage with its warm welcome, glorious countryside, iconic university buildings, picturesque villages and historic castles and it is familiar to many as the backdrop for film and TV shows including Napoleon, Downton Abbey, Midsomer Murders and the Mummy Returns.

“As the national tourism agency, responsible for developing England’s visitor economy and promoting Britain globally, we collaborate closely with Experience Oxfordshire and congratulate them on their work in telling Oxfordshire’s story so effectively.”

Although Oxfordshire’s visitor economy contributes an impressive £2.17billion to the local economy and employs 37 thousand people, figures are still 17% down in real terms on 2019.  With VisitBritain predicting a steady return to pre-pandemic visitor figures, businesses working in the sector are keen to benefit from this.

Hayley Beer-Gamage expressed her pleasure at showcasing Oxfordshire to the Minister saying: “We were delighted to share our pride in our destination with Minister Lopez. These have been, and continue to be, uncertain times for operating within our sector so it was a pleasure to take her to the Schwarzman Centre to hear from an institution looking with confidence to the future and to the well-established Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, A Belmond Hotel to meet Raymond Blanc OBE and his team who continue to contribute so much to Oxfordshire’s strong, positive reputation as a visitor destination.”

25 Mar 24

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