Month: June 2016

BREXIT update

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The initial comment on the impact on international inbound tourism markets, as far as they are known, from VisitBritain can be accessed at: The VisitBritain TIER update 27 June 16 .

Meanwhile there is considerable comment and press speculation around the potential benefits for the domestic market.

I don’t doubt for a moment that one of the immediate effects will be fewer UK residents holidaying abroad this year and as a consequence many of those choosing to do something, somewhere holiday related in the UK instead.  If the current economic conditions continue that pattern could then be repeated in future years.  That obviously can be articulated as positive for UK tourism as a whole and possibly for UK PLC as an entity.  That said to my mind it’s rather akin to suggesting that the closure of BHS is obviously a positive for the UK retail and for many high streets as it removes the immediate competition from nearby shops?  Complex issues have complex consequences many of which go by unrecognized and unreported.

I would caution that experience, some of it quite recent, shows that the underlying causes of the decision of some not to holiday abroad can also be detrimental to large parts of the domestic tourism market, whilst the full benefit of more domestic holiday’s being taken is seldom evenly spread geographically, socially or by product or by destination typology. In other words there will be significant winners and losers domestically as well as internationally and, thus, it’s not unremitting good news all round for UK tourism.

Why I airing this with you now? Largely because I am concerned that if not presented as a complex mix bag, the short to medium term performance of the domestic market as a whole, could easily be used as yet another reason to turn off support for the domestic industry by cash strapped governments.  This of course also comes on top of domestic tourism’s performance already being underpinned to a considerable degree by fears of terrorism and instability in once popular overseas destinations.  Planning the longer term strategic direction, the levels of support and the management structure for the domestic market around the current unpredictable woes both at home and abroad I hope might now be seen as being a little short sighted?


In last week’s the news

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Last week ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer was the latest senior industry representative to publicly air growing concern about the worldwide growth of Airbnb.  Tanzer’s concerns about the impacts on international destinations have been dismissed by some as an attempt to protect travel agents and the traditional commissionable sales model.  There is clearly far more to Mark’s concern than this and probably a whole lot further for the issue to run.  Increasingly UK domestic destinations are being forced to consider the pros and cons of Airbnb, their impact on their own destinations and on destination partnership models.  If you aren’t already thinking about how to manage Airbnb in your own patch  then you probably should be starting to: .

No one could possibly have missed last week’s referendum result but if you are in need a quick informed overview of the process of withdrawal from the EU then the House of Lords Select Committee report into the subject published in May might assist:

The National Coastal Tourism Academy recently released a report entitled 2016 Coastal Tourism, which looks at the current state of tourism on the English coast:






Conference report now available

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The 2016 British Destinations Annual conference was held this week in Southport.  Delegates from inland and coastal, City, rural and resort destinations were treated to a number of presentations of exceptional quality and relevance (the delegates assessment not ours) on topics of both immediate tactical and longer term strategic importance to the UK’s tourism and visitor economy industries.

A brief report giving access to all the presentations made during the event can be found at:

Final conference update and last booking plea

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Three things: update and changes to speakers, the final programme  is now available and it’s still not too late to book (just).  What’s more, we really do need you to support this high profile event:

1. Speakers: Liz Byron has been confirmed as the DCLG speaker for the closing session of conference prior to lunch 20 June.  Richard Veal MD of New Mind tellUs replaces Andy Abram of New Mind telllUs who is indisposed. Richard will now speak on late Monday afternoon, not the Tuesday morning.  Nick Brookes-Sykes of Visit Manchester has agreed to move his session from late Monday to the first session Tuesday morning to allow all this to happen (many thanks Nick).

2. The final pre-publication version of the programme text has been  now been added to the conference page at: ,or it can also be downloaded directly at: .

3. Despite the quality of content and speakers the numbers of delegates remain disappointingly low.  We desperately need your support for this high level event and it isn’t too late to book, especially if you do now.  Booking detail at:

Annual General Meeting Agenda

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The agenda for the Annual General Meeting being held on Monday 20 June 2016 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel Southport can be found in the following section of the members’ area of  or it can accessed directly at:

Please note nominations for new Vice Presidents and Fellows which will be considered at the AGM are still being sought: .

The agenda for the joint Board and Executive meeting being held on the morning of 20 June can also be accessed by members at: .

If you wish to raise any substantive issues at either meeting but can’t attend to do so in person, then please feel free to email or call me this week so I can do it on your behalf.

Late booking for annual conference 20-21 June can still be taken, detail and booking forms are at:


Your nominations for Vice Presidents and Fellows sought

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At the AGM on the late afternoon of Monday 20 June members will be asked to consider recommendations from the Board or made from the floor, for Vice Presidents (typically MPs, AMs, MLAs, MEPs, members of the House of Lords). They will also be asked to consider recommendations made by the Board for Fellowship, an honour bestowed in recognition of services to the association or the industry we represent.

In order to ensure your views are taken into account, regardless of your ability to attend the AGM during annual conference in Southport 20/21 June, suggestions (in confidence/not attributed) or formal nominations from yourselves or your organisation (attributed) are urgently sought for both Vice Presidents and Fellows.

The detail of current holders and the criteria for each appointment can be accessed from the “Governance, events & activities” page on See first and last bullet points at:

To make a suggestion or nomination simply email me indicating who and why and stating whether you are happy for this suggestion or nomination to be attributed to you or your organisation or not.  If not then, provided it meets the criteria, I will happily make the proposals for you to the Board or AGM as appropriate.

Alternatively it’s not too late yet to book to attend conference and nominate at the AGM in person: .


Destination Management Survey

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Colleagues at TEAM Tourism have been talking to me about a study they are undertaking for a destination client designed to assess the current state of Destination Management in England and differing approaches to it (my simplistic interpretation, not necessarily theirs or the clients).

The aggregated findings, which will not include individual destination data, is pretty much the sort of thing that we have been regularly been asked for of late by members and strategic partners, principally to assist with local and national  lobbying activity targeted toward the retention of destination management and management services.

I have agreed to help circulate and encourage participation on the basis that it is information that is urgently need and that will have much wider utility across the UK.  In return TEAM Tourism and the client will share the aggregate, group data and findings with any of you that participate and critically, from my point of view at least, with British Destinations.

The recently launched survey consists of c 27 relatively simple questions and although targeted at England, I think there would be mutual benefit if destinations from other home nations also took part:

Please feel free to ask questions before participation of me or contact  Carmel Dennis at TEAM Tourism directly on  07946425958 or

New Mind tellUs speaker detail confirmed

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New Mind tellUs have confirmed that Director (UK) Andy Abram will be their speaker for the first session of the morning of Tuesday 21st June on the second day of the British Destinations conference in Southport.  New Mind tellUs formed in December 2015 by incorporating New Mind, tellUs and the New Vision Group, all of whom continue to trade under their existing brands, are the leading suppliers of digital solutions to destinations across the UK and Europe.

Andy has been asked to update us on, among other things, where destination management, website, booking, distribution, Apps and other digital platforms are now and where they are, or might be heading in the near, medium and longer term.

More about the  conference, the other high profile national speakers involved and the booking detail can all be accessed at:

It is still not too late to participate, although it will be soon.  If you wish to secure your place and then confirm your booking detail a little later email me now at:

In the news

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In the news:  US European travel alert, holiday park development and changes to school holiday dates.

1. US Travel Alert. On 31 May the US State Department issued a “Europe Travel Alert”, which follows on from a less well publicised (in the UK at least) World Travel Alert issued in March that also include a general warning paragraph regard travel to Europe . The latest alert opens with:

“As part of the State Department’s continuous efforts to provide Americans travelling abroad with information about relevant events, we are alerting U.S. citizens to the risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe, targeting major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers and transportation. The large number of tourists visiting Europe in the summer months will present greater targets for terrorists planning attacks in public locations, especially at large events. This Travel Alert expires August 31, 2016”.

The US remains the UK’s most important international market.  Meanwhile France is the top European destination for US citizens travelling abroad and recent high profile events there were already likely to depress travel volumes and values from the USA to Europe and within that the UK for this summer and probably well beyond.  Very little self-fulling publicity is being given to this within the UK but it is nonetheless reasonable to assume that visitor numbers from the USA to the UK will be significantly depressed with strong potential for the US warnings to influences other key markets, even without there being further incidents.

Yesterday’s conflicting publicity of the earlier arrest of a French right-wing terrorist or gun smuggler  (depending on who’s state security forces you believe) is as likely to serve to reinforces the need for caution, as it is to allay fears on the grounds that the threats are being effectively dealt with.  Similarly pictures of armed soldiers patrolling French tourist hot spots may reassure those already there but will undoubtedly help frighten off many of those who have yet to think about coming.

Read the full State Department European Travel Alert at: .

2. Holiday Parks. Parkdean Resorts the UK’s biggest holiday park operator has reported increased profits for 2015, announced plans for £40m investment in its existing 72 sites and also look sets to make further acquisitions in future years.  Various reports over recent days have given slightly differing interpretations; this is what the Telegraph has to say on the matter:

The Parkdean’s announcement confirms the underlying strength of the domestic market, albeit increasingly underpinned by the shorter breaks with their attendant issues, for example shortening lead times.  It also confirms the increasing need for and benefits of investment in the product, whatever the target market.

Additionally future acquisition plans may or may not be of interest to areas where Parkdean aren’t currently operating and/or investment in existing parks is needed?  In general Holiday Park development in recent years has been mostly about improvement, expansion and acquisition of existing sites.  Perhaps there is now room in the market for more completely new, larger scale development and in particular for holiday park product away from established holiday park territory?

3. School summer term. The first Education Authority in England has announced a shortening of its summer holiday to less than 5 weeks for 2017 summer seasons, other authorities are considering the merits of similar moves. In Barnsley’s case it will involve the creation of longer 2 week October holiday in 2017 for all of its 53 state run schools. A further 35 primary and secondary academies in the education authority area will continue to select their own dates or fall in line as they see fit under  the new freedoms that academy status gives them.  The move has been made to reduce learning loss over the long summer holiday period and to give a more even spread of holidays in order to support learning.

Again as far as holidays and tourism are concerned, the public debate has been dominated by the same old relative cost arguments and not by the difficulties for many families of juggle competing  requirements in order to get the necessary time off together to take a holiday.  Yes it may well be possible to get a lower cost holiday in October/November at home or abroad but not every family in Barnsley can or would want to go on holiday in just two weeks in October/November. Meanwhile the already limited summer window of holiday opportunity for parents of pupils from at least 53 local schools will have narrowed by a further week, creating an even larger local holiday taking bottleneck . These issues are then further compounded by the removal of head teacher’s discretion to grant in term holidays for pupils in anything other than “exceptional circumstances”:

When the issues of changing school term times were last properly consulted upon, schools were either state or privately run, holiday dates in the state sector were set by a relatively few Educational Authorities and head teacher in both the state and private education sectors retained the discretion to grant term time holiday’s, where there was a good case made for it.  Circumstances have changed radically in England, where the largest proportion of the UK’s families resides.  There is a distinct danger that the tourism industry, which stills relies to a significant degree on the domestic families market, has lost sight of critical developments, along with any sort of influence they might have had on local and national government policy.  If nothing else these random changes will make an increasingly unpredictable holiday market and holiday seasons even more difficult to predict and therefore far more difficult to efficiently and cost effectively manage.

Latest conference speaker confirmed

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Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership is nationally well known for its level of engagement within tourism and the visitor economy sectors.  But what does that engagement look like on the ground, who does what within the City Region and how does the partnership work in practice to deliver improvements to the visitor economy of the wider City Region?  Peter Sandman Head of Visitor Economy Development at the Liverpool City Region LEP has now been confirmed as the speaker for their conference session on the  morning of Tuesday 21 June 09:50 – 10:35.

For more details of the two day event  PM 20- AM 21 June, or to book your place please go to:

Note booking will close shortly.  If you intend to attend please either book now, or at the very least indicate your intentions by emailing me, so I can reserve accommodation before it is all taken: