Lest by omission yesterday’s pessimistic crystal ball gazing about the potential future for VE, left anyone in doubt about my thoughts on the future of international tourism and in particular VB, I don’t for one moment think that VB or international tourism to the UK would come out better off from an apparent future emphasis on growing the international market, over and above any needs that the “mature” domestic market might have.
In most, but not all cases, the basic product from vista to built environment, from accommodation through transport to food and drink etc. are the same for both; it’s just the origin, motivators and sometime the means of the visitor that are subtly different. Failing to support product development for either market (or is it essentially both?) in a rush to promote to and redirect international visitor around the UK would be to starve the very thing they and the domestic visitor come or stay to see and do.
Of more immediate concern, however, is the logical, likely source of any VE challenge fund if it were largely or exclusively earmarked for international promotional activity. In a harsh cost cutting environment is that really going to be additional to VB’s already thinly spread international market resource? It would be nice to think so but my jaded experience suggest its more likely to be a smoke and mirrors job that ends up presenting a relatively small pot of money as “new and additional” when in truth it is derived from, say, deep cut to VE’s already minimal core operating budget and a reallocation of some of the money taken in equally deep cuts from VB’s own marketing funds. This is entirely speculative but I think it is speculation that needs to be aired in order to help ensure it doesn’t in some nightmare scenario come to fruition.
I don’t for one minute doubt DCMS officials are doing their very best to protect what they can of VE and VB and to retain as much of their joint and separate funding. From what I heard said and from what I am seeing in print, I just doubt they properly understand the complexities of the relationship between domestic and international tourism, or that they fully appreciate the unintended consequence of a policy that will essential robs Peter to pay Paul. Ultimately both end up much the poorer for it because a vibrant visitor economy is not simply about promotion and the money to pay for it.
Yesterday’s musing on VE’s future, for those that missed them, can be accessed at: