International edition
September 23, 2021

The sector generates revenues over us$ 312 billion a year

UK Tourism Minister heralds groundbreaking BISL leisure report

(UK).- British Tourism Minister John Penrose was the guest of honour at the launch of Business In Sport & Leisure’s (BISL) groundbreaking report into the size and scale of the Leisure Industry, and its importance to the UK economy.

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ntitled The State of the UK Leisure Industry: A Driver for Growth, the 88 page report - based on research by management consultants Oliver Wyman – reveals the clear economic value of the UK Leisure Industry and defines the true breadth of it’s activities, emphasizing the sector's important social value. It also calls for the appointment of a Cabinet minister responsible for championing the growth of the Leisure Industry in the United Kingdom.

Describing BISL as ‘..an exempla of the leadership the industry needs to put the sector we all love on the political and economic map’ Mr Penrose said: "I am delighted to be here today to be a guest of BISL, a leading force in marshalling strategic thinking on the leisure industry and banging the drum on its behalf.”  Refering to the contents of the Report he said: “There is an awful lot to admire and to like, much of which I instinctively agree with” before acknowledging there was an overlap of thinking between the BISL report and government thinking.”
 
Key findings in the report show that the UK Leisure Sector:
 
•  Generates over us$ 312 billion of revenue a year, when accounting for direct contributions (us$ 182.5 billion) and indirect contributions (us$ 159 billion).

•  Provides 2.6 million jobs, representing 9% of the workforce, employing more people than the Manufacturing, Transport, Construction or Financial Services sectors.

•  Supports a large number of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) (66% of the Industry) and fosters a strong business start-up rate (20% higher than the UK average).

•  Female, young, low-skilled, and part-time workers – demographics underrepresented in other industries – benefit heavily from the Leisure Industry. 44% of management positions in the industry are held by women, and it employs more than one in five of all 16-25 year olds (more than Manufacturing, Construction and Financial Services combined). 46% of the industry’s workforce holds part-time or flexible working contracts.

Across a wide range of subsectors – from betting and gaming, restaurants, hotels and pubs, to sports, fitness and visitor attractions – the Leisure Industry’s activities supply fun and entertainment to millions of families and individuals in a safe, secure and regulated environment across the UK on a daily basis.
 
The report argues that recent government actions have disproportionately impacted the Leisure industry, accounting for an additional us$ 4.9 billion of tax and regulatory costs since 2010 – a figure estimated to rise to us$ 6 billion by 2014. BISL concludes the report with recommendations to government that have the potential to generate up to 440,000 jobs by 2020, 30,000 high quality training positions over the next three years, up to us$ 936 million annual savings for local government and a policy environment that should enable the Leisure Industry to grow and thrive.
 
In relation to the UK betting and gaming sector, the report recommends the following changes:
 
•  The Gambling Commission’s remit should expand to ensure that it is more active in promoting the work of the betting and gaming sector and in highlighting its value and importance to the UK economy.

•  Given the pace of change in technology, innovation and consumer attitudes, the existing triennial review of gaming stakes and prizes should be abolished and replaced by a new review conducted every two years to give greater clarity and confidence to invest.

•  The adoption of a fiscal regime for the betting and gaming sector that takes into account broader international opportunities and competition, allowing UK companies to compete effectively on a world stage.

•  Review and update the licensing restrictions covering casinos and other betting and gaming businesses to provide a more proportionate and risk and evidence based regulation. Furthermore BISL seeks earlier, more consistent and attributable advice around both technical and legislative issues from the regulators.

As well as calling for the appointment of a Cabinet minister responsible for championing the growth of the Leisure Industry the report’s broader recommendations include:
 
•  The introduction of a new initiative to kick-start Leisure Industry employment amongst young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETS) and increase the numbers of high quality skilled positions.

•  Incentives for growth through a more progressive tax policy, specifically a reduction in VAT for visitor accommodation and attractions.

•  A government review of other existing tax policies relevant to the Leisure Industry to gauge whether they are achieving the ultimate aim of supporting economic growth. Particular examples include the recent changes to Machine Gaming Duty, the prevailing 50% tax rate on casino games and the ongoing beer escalator tax framework.

Heralding the report, Simon Johnson, CEO of BISL said: “This first of its kind report demonstrates the significant contribution the Leisure Industry makes to the UK economy. The Leisure Industry has a track record in creating not just jobs but also attractive careers for young people, for women, for people without qualifications and those who need flexible working conditions. With the right government support we believe the industry could create a further 440,000 jobs by 2020.”

“The government needs to take its foot off the brakes and let the Industry flourish and create the economic growth and new jobs the UK so desperately needs. The recommendations in this report are intended to be the starting point for a new era of collaboration between the government and the Leisure Industry, which BISL hopes will play a key part in supporting the government’s growth agenda,” Johnson added.

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