Month: December 2015

Meeting with Secretary of State DCMS

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Just to let members know that I have a meeting at midday tomorrow with the Secretary of State Department for Culture Media and Sport in Liverpool.  The original meeting was arranged sometime ago by the Core Cities Group with the Minister for Tourism to discuss various City and Northern Growth Fund related issue.  She can attend and recent events have switched the focus for discussion principally to concerns about  future of VisitEngland within VisitBritain.  I have been invited to attend the rescheduled meeting by the Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership in my capacity as a Board member of the Tourism Alliance representing them, as the organisation of recent ad hoc industry group representations and as CEO of British Destination.

Hopefully by now you will be aware of the stance taken by ourselves and the Tourism Alliance.  If not scroll down the latest information and updates page at:  .  If you wish to add anything to tomorrows discussions please contact me before 10.30 AM Tuesday: or call me on my mobile.


Message from Sally Balcombe re CSR outcomes

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Sally Balcombe CEO of British has just released  an update which, if you have not already seen it, I feel you will wish to read:

Coastal Revival Funds announcemets

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The details of last week’s Coastal Revival Fund announcements can be accessed at:

A further post-CSR VB – VE update

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On the 3 December I sent a letter to the Secretary of State DCMS signed by 55 “champions of industry” expressing concern about the future status and effectiveness of VE within VB as envisaged by DCMS.  The Minister of Tourism responded on the 9th and I sent out an email outlining my reactions to the Minister’s letter, to those who had signed it on the 10th.  The letter, the response and my comments, together with the reliant  exerts from the British Tourism Framework and Triennial Reviews can now be found on the following page:

Post-CSR industry letter to the Secretary of State DCMS

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Following speculation on the future relationship between VisitBritain and the currently independent VisitEngland post the otherwise welcome CSR tourism funding announcements, British Destinations have coordinated another high level industry letter to the Secretary of State DCMS seeking confirmation and reassurance.  The content of the letter can be accessed on the following page:

Give your neighbouring destinations a Christmas gift

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Stuck for ideas for what to give your neighbouring Destination this Christmas?

Well why not give them the opportunity to benefit up to 4 months free British Destinations membership?

In all seriousness we urgently need to recruit new and former members in order to sustain the organisation.  At this time of year we can happily offer a combination of either up to a 3/4 month free trial for those unwilling to commit or for those that can already see the benefit  up to 15/16 months membership for the price of 12, either paid up front in the 4 remaining months of this financial year or deferred until the next.  The latter BOGOF approach has the advantage of offering the potential of participation in two free Destination Intelligence Surveys (2015 and 2016’s) for one year’s subscription.

It’s a good offer but we can’t do it alone and experience shows that satisfied current members are far better ambassadors or sale persons than an unsolicited contact from me.

What I need you to do is check the membership  list (below) identify non-member colleagues and contact them suggesting that there is an opportunity to try membership for free, between now and 31 March or better still an opportunity to get full membership benefits for up to 16 month for the knock down price of next year’s subscription  New member subscription start at £750 plus VAT.  All the detail they need is in the first few tabs of the corporate website (see below) and you should also invite them to look at and scroll down the latest information and update page to see what it is we doing on a daily basis for them and their industry: 

Who we are and what we do:

Membership tools (including the membership list):


Join us today:

I appreciate that it’s a big ask of you especially when on the home front fewer people are being asked to do more with less, but please do try to take the time to contact as many fellow officers, fellow Councillor or senior representatives in your neighbouring destinations, DMO’s, tourism bodies DBIDs etc.  as you can.  A few additional members will make a significant difference to the levels of continued service we can offer to you and to them.

CSR – VisitBritain and VisitEngland update

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The apparently good news of £40m Discover England Fund to boost tourism across England (over 3 years), plus an increase in the total budget available for the Greats Campaign to £60m (for the various agency and departmental participants), and no cuts in VB or VE’s current core budget was originally only slightly marred by the decision not to separate VB and VE, as had been recently recommended in the Triennial Review.  My immediate reaction to that was, “oh well the current arrangement isn’t really that bad and VB and VE have managed to rub along together since the 2009 British Tourism Framework Review recommended the reformation of an English Board after all, so where’s the problem?”.  The problem is that this assumed that, “not to separate”’ means: retain the current status quo in the VB VE structures and relationships, which apparently isn’t the case.

The Minister subsequently described the plan as, “….no longer separating VisitBritain and VisitEngland but are bringing them closer together”.   VB, the accountable body for VE, in its industry release then went much further suggesting perhaps, as I read it, that VE will revert to being an internal arm within, or indeed just a part of VB, as they were for a long  period in the 2000s, pre 2009:

“Changes to our governance arrangements will mean that VisitEngland will report into VisitBritain and the VisitEngland board will be an advisory body”.

“VisitBritain will have over-arching responsibility for setting the strategic framework and for driving growth in international leisure and business tourism, including the development of English tourism products that appeal to overseas markets. We will maintain distinct activities to develop and market English products through a dedicated plan and with a ring-fenced budget”.

Doubtless some national organisations and major businesses will be comfortable with VB the international marketing body under the direction of its 6/7 person (Chairman VE Ex officio) Board, that includes representative of the other home nations and London (but not the English regions) having, “responsibility for”, the international and domestic product development and international and domestic marketing of England, albeit “advised by the VE board”.  I am also certain that many others and, in particular, those that are as, or more reliant on the 80% domestic as opposed to the 20% international tourism markets will be alarmed in the extreme when they actually realise what lies behind the headline good news; a realisation that in our fragmented industry may take many months.  Moreover, the other home nations and indeed the wider English industry were never comfortable with VB having a dual and frankly conflicting international Britain v England domestic and international remit before (see attached 2009 BTF Review document), so why should they be any more comfortable with it now?

The apparent decision to reverse VE into VB isn’t just at odds with the recent recommendations of the Governments own internal independent Triennial review, it also flies in the face of the recommendations of VB’s own  2009 independent British Tourism Framework Review. The relevant highlights of both, which I urge you to read are accessible below. What they appear to be planning to do now is more or less precisely what that 2009 review recommended shouldn’t happen or be allowed to continue!  DCMS and by association VB, in my view, are not only going to, at best damage, if not destroy the internal, national down to local domestic and, by implication, international delivery structures in England, but they are going to do so in a manner that will  frankly make them look stupid, simply because they will be doing exactly what their own recent and relatively recent advice is telling them not to do.

Moreover, what is the point of giving the industry in England the funding it so badly needs to encourage growth whilst at the same time taking away the proven mechanism that can deliver it for them?  And all apparently to make some marginal administrative savings?  Or is it part of some dogmatic, doctrinal experiment in cutting  domestic tourism loose entirely in the  hope that market forces, the industry and local determination and local  devolution will take care of domestic tourism in England, whilst VB simply get on and manage, as they do best, the international marketing of England and Britain ?  Your guess is as good as mine.

In the absence of the Policy Director, Chair and Vice Chairman of the Tourism Alliance who are on leave, I have been asked to try and coordinate a short letter from the Tourism Alliance welcoming the headline news but questioning the rationale of the apparent decision to not to split VB and VE but instead to effectively remove it as an independent national board for England.  Given the nature and make-up of the Alliance that’s not that easily done. Having recently organised a high level industry letter to the Chancellor on the subject of VE, I am now also in the frame to organise a follow-up letter, this time directed to the Secretary of State DCMS on the above lines . If I can draw breath I will also try and do something from British Destinations  before week is out .  However, as final decision point is next week, somewhere around  8th/9th  December, I am also  minded to ask that individual British Destination members and anyone else who has concerns might like to write now expressing their own views, whatever they may be, to:

Rt Hon. John Whittingdale, OBE, MP, Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, 100, Parliament Street, London, SW1A 2BQ

CCed to the Tourism  Minister

Tracey Crouch MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport 100, Parliament Street,  London, SW1A 2BQ

For more pertinent information access the highlights of the 2009 British Tourism Framework and 2015 Triennial Reviews at:

You can also respond to me with your thoughts at: