Month: May 2014

Foresights edition 127 Trends in visiting different areas of Britain and other updates added

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The latest edition of Foresight from Visit Britain on trends in visiting different areas of Britain,  along with the May edition of Inbound Quarterly Trends can now be accessed in the members protected area at:

The latest May editions of VisitEngland’s Destination Communication and eNews have also recently been posted at:

Updates from all national boards can also be accessed via the drop down menu that appears when you hover over the main menu tab “Members area & login”.


Annual Conference 16 -17 June speaker update

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James Berresford CEO of VisitEngland has confirmed his attendance at this year’s British Destinations’ Annual conference. Unable to open the event, as planned during the early afternoon on 16 June, he will now speak on strategic partnership issues during the evening’s Carrier Group Annual Awards Dinner.

In addition, Phil Evans, Head of Policy & Analysis at VisitEngland will give a VisitEngland update briefing in the afternoon, alongside speakers from the British Beer & Pub Association, the Federation of Small Business and the Association of Town Centre Management who will present on issue including business partnership, business rates and the forthcoming business rate review.  The morning sessions on the 17th will major on tourism and Business Improvement Districts.  More information to follow on the speakers, with we are anticipating, news of an additional cutting edge, high profile closing session.

The Ramada Plaza Hotel Southport have kindly agreed to hold open  the discounted conference rate until early June, so book now to guarantee the discount.  More information on the event and the booking forms can be accessed at:

Australia rejects proposals to slash tourism funding

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Last week the Australia Government very quickly and, in my view, very sensibly rejected proposals to half their national tourism marketing budget and, in addition, to eliminate entirely all tourism product development funding.

I was alarmed to note that many of the arguments used to justify past cuts made here in the UK and elsewhere were being cited by the Australian Commission of Audit as reason to slash their own spending on tourism.   My real concern, however, was that the Australian Government might be persuaded to take this avenue and that in time Australia’s actions would then be cited back to us as reason to do the same again here, a case of “they have so we have, so perhaps we should too”. This is not a particularly sophisticated way of developing strategy and one I would hope that UK and other Governments might not be influenced by.  But you can never be too sure, especially when the pressure is on to reduce spending and justification, rather than evidenced argument can occasionally take precedence.

So now the Australian Government have firmly kicked the proposal into the long grass, for the time being at least, do we just forget about it?  If there was the grain of truth in my concern that cutbacks in Australia might serve to keep reductions in funding for other national tourist boards rolling, then might the converse also be true?  Should Australia’s decision not at the very least be highlighted, noted and tucked away for use at a later date?  Or might there not be some more immediate capital to be made from it, especially in the run up to our own general election in 2015?

Unfortunately I have neither the time nor the resource to research the detail of the Australian commission of audits recommendations on tourism, or to analysis the decision of Australian Government and their seemingly rapid rejection of the tourism element, within what is a much wider, whole economy report and recommendations. But to ignore the lessons of the threat of swingeing cuts, and the reprieve from it, might be to miss a valuable and potentially fleeting opportunity. I am therefore making sure that the thought is at lest being lodged widely with other tourism organisations in hope that one or more of them might rise to the challenge of researching the issue, however, superficially.  Meanwhile I think there is a lot to be gained by as many people as possible making the general observation that the Australian Government have just rejected the general direction of travel taken by the UK Government regarding national tourist boards and their core central government funding.  Not only did they reject the cuts but  they have actual agreed to increase funding!

Book now to get the discounted conference accommodation rates

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A big thank you to all those who have already booked their places for 16 – 17 June.  If you have not done so yet,  the 4 star Ramada Plaza Southport Can only guarantee to hold the stunning £125 (in VAT) 36 hour, full board conference rate until the end of May.  Please see conference outline and booking forms at:

Meanwhile Chris Brown Director of Marketing Liverpool has now agreed to contribute to the first session on City based Tourism BIDs on morning of 17 June which is being presented by Tim Manson Policy and Development Direct Marketing Birmingham.  Other session on this second morning of conference include a detailed case study of Southport’s recently successful destination based BID and a panel presentation and debate from Great Yarmouth, Southend and Weymouth on the pros and cons and the highs and lows of their recent wider destination based BID programmes.   We also plan to debate where, if at all, rural and smaller urban destinations can benefit from these new initiatives.

The afternoon 16th June will also touch on BIDs but will major around business rates, the business rate review and future of the destination high street.

Welsh Government publish report on the economic impact of activity tourism

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Welsh Government figures released this week show that outdoor activity tourism in Wales is worth £481 million to the economy and supports 8,243 Welsh jobs:

ONS Report on international visitor trends to the UK now published

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The recently published ONS report on international visitor trends to the UK during 2013 can be found here:

UK Beach Management Forum Conference 14 May final detail published. Places still available…

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Inland and coastal bathing water controllers and coastal beach and tourism managers may wish to note the content of the UK Beach Management Forum annual conference which is being held on the 14 May in Birmingham.  This one day event is free to UKBMF member organisations and also to British Destination members. Non-member organisations a flat £100 plus VAT registration fee to include complimentary 2014/15 UKBMF membership. Additional booking are still be taken up to midday 13th May;

Possible Cuts to Tourism Australia’s Marketing Budget and Product Development Funding

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The Australian National Commission of Audit has issued a major report in to all aspect of Australian Government activity with the aim of cutting back on public spending.  Their apparent immunity to the global recession has turned out to be more a deferred reaction than an escape from it. Within the report there is a recommendation that Tourism Australia, the main promotional body for the country, has its marketing funding reduced by 50%.  In addition current funding for such things as quality assurance activity and grant aid to the industry in Australia would cease.  Not unsurprisingly this eye watering headline has been picked up internationally and has started to be discussed here in the UK.

At this stage it’s worth noting that the report is just a report and the eventual outcome(s) can’t be accurately predicted, although it is probably safe to assume that with recommendations of this magnitude cuts of a relatively severe nature in tourism support will almost certainly follow. Equally given the sheer magnitude of the report’s over all coverage “eventually” might well be some time off.

It is worth noting that the report appears to draw conclusions from experience elsewhere in the world, including the UK and worth speculating that in time any outcomes in Australia could in their turn be seen as setting “new international precedence”; probably for reduced national engagement and for less central national funding for tourism. You could also speculate that there is a real danger that the assumed outcomes may well start impacting in much the same way, well before anything is actually decided in Australia; potentially setting off (maintaining?) an international tourism policy merry-go-round.  Cutting back may well be the right thing to do but let us do the right thing, for right reasons and not simple because: “we have, so they are, so perhaps we should……..”

One would hope major Government’s policy direction on something so important as tourism was somewhat more sophisticated than this, but just in case not, we in the tourism industry have a role to play in ensuring that the rational for action by our international competitors is properly analysed and discussed in its full and proper context.  The recommendation for Tourism Australia is just one tiny part of major reappraisal of the Australian Government’s entire fiscal policy covering every single aspect of Australia’s centrally funded activity from defence through international aid to social housing policies. In reality this proposal isn’t actually about tourism but a much larger rebalancing of Australia’s finances. The real question for the Australian Government and anyone looking in should be: in saving X millions of dollars on tourism now, is there a danger that it will cost the Country much more in lost tourism revenues in future years?  It is to be hoped that they have had that debate; unfortunately the report gives only a flavour of the rational and the stark conclusion but not necessarily all the detail that lead them to conclude they can safely reduce marketing spend by 50% and cease support for other product development activities entirely.

The relevant section of the Government of Australia’s National Audit Commission reports reads:

“Approximately AUD $185 million (c£101.5m) of Commonwealth funding is directed towards tourism initiatives and management. Most of this funding is for Tourism Australia, although other programmes now administered by Austrade include ‘Tourism Quality’ grants and the Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for tourism policy.

Nearly two thirds of Tourism Australia’s budget is directed to advertising and other promotional activities. While tourism is one of Australia’s main exports, most of the benefits of tourism accrue to the tourism operators. There is no clear reason why significant funding should be provided to tourism above other Australian export industries. …Tourism assistance can also be seen as aiming to address market failures within the tourism industry.

The States already provide a marketing budget for tourism. However, it is arguable that marketing Australia as a destination for international tourists should be undertaken at a Commonwealth level rather than on a State-by-State level. The Commission proposes that grant funding for the tourism industry be ceased, and funding for Tourism Australia be reduced by 50 per cent, to focus on international marketing, with the function incorporated into a commercial arm of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade”.

(The full series of National Commission of Audit reports are accessible at )

British Destinations Annual Conference 16-17 June Now Taking Bookings

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Details of the 2014 British Destinations annual conference, together with the booking form, can be downloaded here: