Month: July 2017

New Director of Culture, Sport and Tourism for Welsh Government

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The Welsh Government have announce that Jason Thomas has recently been appointed the new Director for Culture, Tourism and Sport and brings a wealth of varied experience to the role.

Before taking up this post, Jason led both Cadw and the Museums, Archives and Libraries Divisions within the Welsh Government. Prior to this Jason was seconded to Cardiff Airport as the Chief of Staff, where he played a key role in transforming the airport once it came under public ownership.

Jason has worked for Welsh Government the majority of his career, particularly within the Department for Economy and Infrastructure, and has led a number of major government programmes, projects and successful teams.

Jason leads a Directorate of around 400 people working across the whole of Wales, is accountable for a budget of circa £115m and looks forward to working with the Wales Tourism industry.

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Recent All Part Parliamentary Group (APPG) and UK Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry updates

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1. EFRA Select Committee Inquiry into rural tourism. There is a strong desire among many tourism and rural interests to see the inquiry in to rural tourism, which was all but completed but which didn’t formally report due to the General Election, resurrected in the new Parliament under the new Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee.  A brief summary letter was sent to the former Secretary of State prior to the Parliamentary disillusionment, but this will have carried minimum weight with the old out going Government and have little if any with the new.

1.1 The re-election as committee chair of Neil Parish MP, on 12 July, may now go a long way towards helping achieve publication. We will raise our desire with both the chair and the committee clerks over the summer recess and encourage individual destinations and our strategic national partner organisations to consider doing the same. Whether publication can be achieved simply by brushing off the old committees report, a refresh of the old report and/or parts of the inquiry, or an entirely new inquiry is a matter for the new committee members and the Parliamentary experts in select committee procedure to untangle.  What matters is getting rural tourism issued aired in  Parliament and within DEFRA during the period of preparation for Brexit.

2. The Tourism and Leisure APPG which took written evidence on the sharing economy and tourism in late 2016 has yet to sit due in large part to the announcement of the General Election. The Chairman of the APPG (our President Gordon Marsden MP) and the Tourism Alliance as secretariat have resolved to start holding evidence sessions as soon after the summer recess as is practically possible. For interest sake our written submission can be found at: https://britishdestinations.net/consultation-responses/open-consultations/appg-sharing-economy-inquiry-closes-25-nov-16/

3. The Visitor Economy APPG which is serviced by BHA (British Hospitality Association) took written evidence last year on coastal tourism. Again our submission can be found at: https://britishdestinations.net/599-2/content/appg-on-visitor-economy-coastal-inquiry-submission/. Following a request from me for an update on the progress of the inquiry, if any, BHA have kindly responded with a helpful summary:

There were three oral evidence sessions for the coastal communities’ inquiry during the last Parliament. MPs heard evidence from, among others, the head of visitor economy at Blackpool Council, industry leaders and the coastal communities lead at the New Economic Foundation. 

Due to the recent General Election, the APPG’s inquiry was put on hold while Parliament was dissolved. The APPG has now been reformed in the new parliament with Steve Double, Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay, as Chair.

The following were elected as Vice Chairs:

  • Albert Owen, Labour MP for Ynys Môn,
  • Dr Philippa Whitford, SNP MP for Central Ayrshire,
  • Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion,
  • Jim Shannon, DUP MP for Strangford,
  • Scott Mann, Conservative MP for North Cornwall

The APPG has invited the new Coastal Communities Minister, Jake Berry MP, to provide evidence at a session in October.  The group will then publish a report with the APPG’s recommendations for improving coastal areas, based on the evidence received.  We will keep you updated with our progress.

Useful guidance for business on the UK Repeal Bill

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If you or your local business partners wish to understand the basic implications of the Repeal Bill for businesses, (workers, consumer the environment etc.) without wading through the full Bill itself, or relying on media interpretations, I would recommend the following UK Government business brief:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-for-businesses-on-the-repeal-bill

As I read it the Bill ensure that we have a set of binding law in place immediately after we leave the EU, that in most cases will be exactly the same as those in place immediately before we leave the EU.  Any changes to existing, or indeed any new UK/EU laws made in the period up to the point of Brexit, can then be made by the UK and devolved Government’s with due Parliamentary scrutiny over a period of time, rather than by accident or by default as part of the process of disengagement. It certainly won’t be a case of we’re out the EU, so now I can now ignore X or Y bits of, “EU legislation”, as some might erroneously assume.

ONS report – Living abroad: migration between Britain and the EU8

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I have added a report from ONS to our extensive research library that provide more information on British citizens living in the European Union (EU), and EU citizens living in the UK which includes a section indicative of  current level of  reliance on EU workers within the tourism industry and indeed other sectors.  I have also added links to some ad-hoc research from ONS’s Tourism Intelligence Unit produced in late 2016 specifically on EU employment in the tourism industry:

https://britishdestinations.net/research-and-statistics/

 

Coastal Communities Fund update

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The manifesto promise to maintain and extend the Coastal Communities Fund to the end of the presumed 5 year life of new Parliament  has effectively been confirmed by answers to oral questions to Jake Berry MP the new Minister responsible in the UK Parliament earlier in the week.  The absence of any mention in the Queen’s Speech had caused mild concern, however, given that the extension to an existing programme does not require any legislative change and this Queen’s Speech was unusually brief this was perhaps a slight overreaction on our part.

Official announcements could follow before tomorrow’s start of  Summer Recces or, more likely, during it.  Of course, the devil will, as ever, remain in the detail. For example: we are yet to find out whether the once 50% of  the (increasing) Crown Estates Marine revenues, quietly dropped to 33.3% for the last round will remain at 33.3% or go up or down for the next round or rounds?  The percentage available makes a significant difference to the size of the total sum available and the number of projects supported in an always heavily oversubscribed fund.

In England at least DCLG are almost certain to pursue their recently introduced approach of two-year tranches.  For pragmatic reasons it is very unlikely that bids will be sought by DCLG this side of New Year 2017, for what in any case will, I believe, be funding available in and for the 2019/20 – 2020/21 financial years.

In the other Home Nations that may now differ as the central administration of the assessment process, allocations etc. is being dropped and therefore Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland will be free to choose a slight or very different approach to the running the programme to that in England going forward.  Currently this is largely informed speculation on my part, and whether they chose to take a radically different approach remains to be seen.