Month: December 2014

A Happy Christmas to all British Destinations’ members and to our website followers

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Take Christmas More Seriously Campaign

The British Destinations 2014 Take Christmas More Seriously campaign gets off to a cracking start!

For those in the industry able to take a break over the coming holiday do enjoy the well deserved rest.  We look forward to working with you in 2015 to promote our mutual interest in a thriving UK visitor economy.

On reflection I think I probably need one…..

December updates from British Destinations and our strategic partners

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Festive Greetings to all British Destination members and followers of  The office will be closed from end of play 24 December, to 5 January, as our hosts Sefton MBC have an enforced stand holiday down policy in place. Although “on holiday”, I will continue to monitor the website, emails and I remain contactable 24/7 on the mobile.

As a parting holiday gift I am leaving you with all the latest from updates and December newsletters from the National Tourist Boards and colleagues in the EU. These are all accessible from the drop down menu off the main menu tab “Members area & login” :

Whist the information is publicly available elsewhere, the link pages that bring it altogether in on place on are protected.  Members who have not had, or have simply forgotten the login need only email me and I will send a reminder by return.

Non-members, why not give yourselves a festive treat and take advantage of the ongoing offer joining us now for 15 month and pay only for the 12 months April to March of the 2014/15 financial year.  Buy now and the offer also including free participation in both the current 2014 and next year’s 2015 destination intelligence.  More on the BOGOF deal at:

English Heritage report on Ports and Historic Environment now available

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This new report aims to, “develop practical proposals to assist English Heritage in conserving the historic environment in ports and harbours, through consultation with the industry”. Obviously this one is not universally applicable but for those destinations in England with a historic port, or port or harbour facilities within a coastal resort it may be of some interest:

England’s Northern Tourism fund and Defra’s transport and rural tourism project updates:

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The text of a letter from the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Tourism to tourism stakeholders in Northern England updating them on the progress and plans towards developing a programme for the recently announced £10m allocation from the Regional Growth Fund is now available on The purpose of making this available to you is to illustrate to those not in the loop in North of England and equally those outside the “North” or indeed England, that this is still very much a work in progress; albeit in all likelihood, one for which Government will now wish to have a substantive plan or strategy ready for public pronouncement before the pre-general election purdah period commence on 30 March 2015:

Notes on the recent meeting regarding a proposed Defra research project looking at transport and rural tourism are also available on  In addition to letting members know what was represented to the Defra on their behalf, it also aims to lets you know that Defra are still willing to take additional comment from interested parties and how to go about doing that:

Destination Healthcheck toolkit consultation

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Peter Lane, Chairman of the British Destinations Executive and our lead on all matters destination intelligence related, is seeking your views and comments on developing a  Destination Healthcheck toolkit, which is currently a work in progress.  Although a VE initiative the toolkit covers subjects common to all UK destinations and when complete it should have some utility, whether intended or not, for destinations outside England.  The expertise and practical knowledge of colleagues from both inside and outside England is therefore being sought by us:

The business rates and rate review debate hots up

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Mary Portas the Government “High Street Czar” waded back into the high street and business rates debate with accusations of “token gestures” yesterday; whilst Penny Mordant the DCLG Communities Minister responded by defended Government’s record on supporting the high street and, in particular, small business: .

All of this is very interesting but the critical questions remain whether the rate review promised for 2016 in the Autumn Budget Statement will result in radical, wholesale reform, as many in business, local government and elsewhere now demand, or just a tweaking and tidying up that ultimately generates much the same revenue for financially hard pressed Central Government? It should of course be noted that the review by rights was due to have taken place several years ago but was postponed until no later than 2017; so the announcement is more a confirmation of intent, than it is a new commitment. Comment on the Autumn Statement and business rate announcements can be found at: .

Meanwhile the devolution to Wales of business rates announced a year ago starts to have its effect with the money raised being a major part of the “extra” £123m of funding announced in the Autumn Statement for the Welsh Assembly for next year. What effect the devolution of business rates will have on the review in Wales and whether potentially different approaches to the review and potentially different solutions in England and Wales will have any significant impact on the process and outcomes in either or both nations remains to be seen: .

The original 2011 Portas Review report can be accessed via the page: 

Why is any of this import for tourism?  Retail, property occupation and its usage and ultimately the look and the feel of the high street, whether it’s in a village, town or City plays a critical part in the sense of place and the experience of both residents and, critically for us, of the visitors. Few if any “destinations”, including the most rural, don’t have one or more high street of some major importance to the visitor economy.   The tourism industry, or more accurately the visitor economy, might not be best placed to lead the debate on business rates and the review but it would be reckless of it not to take a strong interest in the review or not to try to ensure that its direction supports the best interests of the businesses that typically make up a successful visitor destination.

British Destinations are working to ensure that the importance of a sector/industry input into the review process is not lost on our strategic national partners and on our peer industry trade associations. At some point between now and 2016, so effectively 2015, similar local engagement and debate might prove useful locally and helpful nationally? The business rate review might not be a key priority on the tourism industry’s pre general election lobbying agenda but it is one still worth chucking in whenever the opportunity arises.  A big thank you to Mary Portas for reigniting the business rate debate and in doing so creating just one such opportunity.