Last week I attended the last of a series of six VisitBritain (VB) and VisitEngland (VE) roadshows on the Discover England Fund. It was a good session which briefly touched on the future role and work of VB for the UK and, now within VB, VE’s separate work for English tourism. The event then rightly majored on the emerging and still being refined plans for the £40m Discover England Fund and its phased delivery over the next three financial years. This fund clearly offers huge opportunities to make step change improvements to international tourism within England, with an emphasis on driving additional international visits outside, or as a supplementary part of a visit to London.
If you didn’t attend the briefing then I urges you, regardless of home nation, to look at the presentation slides (2 to 13 contain the key detail):
(short text only version for email usage: Discover England Fund Presentation (short version)).
I would also urge those of you in England to start give some thought to the “quick wins and research” in 2016/17 and also to start thinking about what benefits you might derive from involvement within much wider partnerships in one of the up to half dozen major projects that will be sought later in 2016/17 for delivery in 2017/18 to 2018/19.
Meanwhile if you think British Destinations can help act as an honest broker between destinations seeking others to partner with in 2016/17 or you have thought on useful sectoral, thematic or other group, international market research projects that we could legitimately front for the memberships benefit, or if there is anything else we might do to add value, then please let me know immediately.
Personally I still remain as, if not more, interested in difficult issues of what VE within VB will be willing, able or allowed to do by their joint paymaster DCMS, for domestic tourism in the coming years, something that wasn’t really aired to any degree at last week’s event. I have every faith in VB’s proven ability to deliver a major series of internationally focused Discover England Fund initiatives. I’m just not yet convinced that DCMS as a department thinks there is a case for active strategic or tactical support to the English domestic market, or critically that Treasury will allow DCMS to fund a range of domestic focused activities in fully or in part from the VB/VE core budget and/or any programme funding. If it’s not allowed (politically supported) and/or funded then it not going to happen, however much we and VB/VE might want it to.
If I am correct then surely it’s entirely right and proper to support and encourage VB and VE in delivering what they are being allowed to deliver, whilst at the same time still criticising Government’s for its seemingly flawed thinking and lobbying it and others in support of those things that we jointly believe are essential for the health and welling of UK tourism but that are not currently being adequately provided for?
As ever I would welcome comment from the membership to help me develop my understanding on and approach to these wider issues, as well as to the specifics of the Discover England Fund initiative.