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.