Month: August 2016

Tourism Action Plan August 2016

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Today’s announcements of the first tranche of the Discover England Funding phase one awards was timed to coincide with the release of an updated version of the Government’s 5 point plan for tourism.  See the new 14 page document which has a forward by Theresa May on the page:


First tranche Discover England Fund Awards Announced

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VisitEngland have today announced the first 7 successful round one projects for the Discover England Fund.  Although it isn’t absolutely clear from the original wording of the announcement I can confirm that this is the first tranche and other announcements of first round awards will follow during September. I am guessing, and it is a guess albeit educated, that if you have made a bid and you have not been contacted yet to confirm your ability to deliver in the limited time frame allowed, then you are highly unlikely to have been successful in what is a heavily oversubscribed first round. VE will start contacting unsuccessful applicants just as soon as the process and their finite resource allows.  See today’s announcement at:

Meanwhile applications for the bigger and longer (2017/18 -2018/19) round 2 bids are now being taken at:

Pokemon Go?

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Interest in Pokemon Go and its potential application in driving visitors to destinations and customers to events and businesses within them continues to grow. Numerous articles and updates have been issued in the recent days and weeks.

For those who just need to have an overview of the potential tourism uses and a basic understanding of what on earth Pokeman Go itself is all about, then one of the better articles we’ve seen is from New Mind/tellUs  which is  both short and informative:

Visit Attraction trends 2015 report published

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VisitEngland have recently published their Visitor Attraction Trends in England 2015 report.  Based on a survey sent to c 5,500 visitor attraction of which 1,564 made returns this 67 page report is packed full of genuinely useful statistical data. The headline finding on page 6 and 7 plus on page 8 the Met Office’s summary of the UK’s weather  by season for 2015 is worth a look if you can’t spare the time now to read the full report.  Although specifically about England the trends highlighted are likely to have read across to the other Home Nations:

This report together with over 100 other current and historic tourism reports can also be found at:

Migrant workers in tourism and the impacts of Brexit

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We have just received via the Tourism Alliance a short 8 page paper the impact of potential labour restriction on migrant workers in the hospitality and tourism industries following Brexit. Published by People 1st and therefore specifically related to England, it still almost certainly has some relevance to the situation in other Home Nations.

It is short enough to be easily and quickly read in full, but if you are pushed for time the key, “so what”, messages can be found on page 8.  Certainly in England at least, it’s a report that you might also consider circulating to local business partners for their information.

On this occasion the immediate audiences are probably the UK Government from a Westminster lobbying prospective and individual businesses from an operational and business planning prospective. We can get on with the lobbying with our strategic national partners, whilst you help generate business awareness.  The implications for you and for holistic destination management are ones that we can best follow-up jointly a little later, once we start to get a clear sense of Government’s proposed direction on both the status of current migrant workers and on the future policy on migration for the purposes of work:

Using Pokemon Go as a marketing tool

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Over the last month there has been a number of press report some of them on the negative impacts of the augmented reality game Pokemon Go.  Today one of these prompted us to highlight to the UK Beach Management Forum some useful UK Marine Management Organisation guidance of seal watching, itself prompted by Pokemon Go players disturbing seals on St Mary’s Island in their efforts to capture “Seels” in the virtual world of Pokemon Go.  That update may also be of some interest to coastal destination managers (available here) but  far more interesting is the potential to use Pokemon Go as a marketing tool to help drive people to come to,  rather than stay away from a particular destination or a specific location within it.

Over the last month or so Pokemon Go has increasingly been discussed as an individual local business promotional tool. That’s prompt us to investigation its potential for destination event, destination day trip and conceivable destination staying promotional activities. If you google “Pokemon Go marketing tool” there are several really interesting and informative (mainly US based) articles on the game itself and individual business promotional usage, some of which you may wish to pass to your local business partners.  But we can’t find (doesn’t mean its no there) anything significant yet on a more holistic destination marketing approaches.

Consequently we are now working with one destination to trial a few ideas, but if there is anyone else out there doing anything on these lines then please let us know so we can pool experiences.  Equally let us not forget the down side, if you have had experience of problems, dangerous practices etc. then please also let us know about these too.

Yes it’s a “craze” but it’s also a massive one that at the very least has some months to run and, given who’s behind, it real potential to grow and continue for some considerable while yet.  Yes it also attracts a lot younger children and teenagers, but accompanied by adults or not they are still a potential valuable customer base.  Critically it is also surprisingly popular with young and older adults and it has very strong international as well as a domestic following, so there may well be some real mileage in this from a destination prospective.

We will let you know what more we find out in due course.

Proposed changes to PPL Licencing Small Hotel Tariff

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PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) is consulting with its current customer base on a series of proposed changes to their small hotels tariff which applies to residential hotels and guesthouse with fewer than 25 bedrooms in the UK. (Thanks to the Tourism Alliance for alerting us to this).

The changes will see the definition of small fall to 15 or fewer rooms, modest increases in some existing fees (background music in bars and other public areas) new fees being charged for service that were previously exempt in premises with fewer than 25 rooms (music in bedrooms, available via TV, radio or CD and CD player) and, on a positive note, the future exemption altogether on premises with 3 or fewer rooms from PPL licencing fees.

Depending on circumstance for premises of more than 3 and fewer than 15 it could be a modest increase of c £5 pa or an increase or for many, a new charge of c £50 to c £55, more than doubling  some of the existing fees paid.  For hotel of more than 15 room and fewer than 25 rooms, again depending on circumstance, it could be an increase of just c£5 or of c£70. It’s a tad complicated and all of this is explained in the consultation document below.

For those like me who have forgotten, PPL is charged entirely separately and in addition to PRS (Performing Rights Society for music); PPL is essential a licence fee for the use of recorded music and PRS a licencing fee for the right to use the intellectual property of song writers, composers and music publishers. The two separate organisations are trying where possible to apply similar definitions and thresholds in order to simplify the process.

If accepted (as seems likely) the new charges will come into effect from 1 January 2017 or from the next individual premises licence renewal date thereafter. The consultation which is expressly for individual businesses opened on 22 July and closes on 19 August 2016.

I don’t propose to respond, PPL aren’t actually encouraging third party comment and I am not suggesting destination managers should respond either.  I do, however, think you should be aware of the likelihood of yet another increase in small business costs for local accommodation partners.  Local hotel and guesthouse associations really should be aware of the consultation by now and may wish to comment themselves, however, you might wish to be seen to be proactive and check that they are, especially whilst there is still a week plus for comment?

Summer update

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1.1 Notwithstanding the normal annual issues of summer Parliamentary and Assembly recces things have gone unusually quiet.  It appears that even the business normally conducted in the politician’s absence by civil servants is being mulled over rather than necessarily advanced.  The general view is that this is another consequence of BREXIT and a further sign that it is far from, “business as usual”.  Why do I mention this? Simply to remind us all that some of the major, done deals, that have still to be implemented could conceivably be changed and that policy direction seemingly set in concrete many months ago might actually still be in wet cement and movable if the right pressure was applied.

1.2 Areas of possible change that interest me on your behalf include the potential to reduced cut backs in public finance and especially local finance and the apparent policy focus in England on international tourism over and above the core domestic market.  What I am also interested in is what interests you the membership and including within that any areas where the BREXIT debate could be used to improve tourism’s position in the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies rather than just at Westminster.  If you see or sense any opportunities please let me know.

2. We are still waiting to hear the phase 1 awards for the Discover England Fund which we though would be announced at the end of July.  The high volume of high quality applications has slowed the evaluation process.  No alternative announcement date has yet been given.

3. Following the first of the English Destinations Forum meetings under the new VB/VE relationship held in July we working with colleagues in other representative bodies to try and ensure that the forum remains relevant and effective.  It was originally proposed that the forum should become self-sufficient and, thus, more able to lobby independently. How and with what was the problem?

3.1. The revised proposal, which I and others are championing see an more inconclusive gathering of English destinations still VB/VE organised but with the forum setting c 50% of the meeting agenda rather than leaving the content up to VB/VE. This has the distinct advantage of leaving VB/VE with an acknowledge role/responsibility for the forum and by implication therefore also for destinations and their issues.   Lobbying which VB/VE can’t be involved in could still be discussed but then conducted outside the meetings, wherever possible via the existing Tourism Alliance arrangements.  Most destinations are already represented at the Tourism Alliance by groupings like Core Cities and British Destinations. Hopefully in due course this more practical approach we are proposing will now be accepted.

4. The current quiet period has some advantages as it allows for the production of, among other things, the draft evidence for the Westminster, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into rural tourism and for the production of material for the Visitor Economy All Party Special Interest Group inquiry into coastal resorts.  The former is an official Select Committee and therefore the priority for our current activities.