I am attending the Tourism Management Institute National Council meeting (12th) and the Tourism Alliance Board Meeting (13th). If you have any burning issues you wish me to raise with either body at these meetings, beyond the key lobbying issues that you know that we are pursuing on your behalf in any case, then please let me know by phone or email.
Last week’s meeting with the new CEO and chief economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation was both timely and productive. Having reviewed their activities JRF are assessing their own research requirements to support their ongoing and future initiatives. At the meeting they appeared to be taken by the notion of us all better understanding the internal economic flows that underpins our novel proposal to look at tourism as an economic redistributor, rather than just estimating the value and volume at the point of consumption as we do now. They seemed to warm to the idea of influencing the Treasury’s rigid attitude to tourism as being a purely displacement activity and they could see the potential linkage between that attitude and the ability of DMOs to deliver necessary destination management activities in support of significant but often fragile tourism economies.
Consequently we have been asked to provide a short note outlining the proposed research in more detail. As they currently have a particular interest in coastal resorts and rural areas, these are emphasized but you should note that any such research would have equal relevance to almost all destinations, including other towns (market, heritage etc,) and many older industrial cities. There is absolutely no guarantee that they will support the research but they are seriously considering the merits of what we had to say. At the very least, this is yet another important organisation that is now starting to think about tourism in terms of a tool of economic redistribution and not just another economic activity that will happen largely on its own and without any need for serious local management. As we know from past experience, drip feeding concepts from a wide base can also lead to significant changes, albeit over time.
All though not the main purpose of the meeting they were also taken by some of our wider tourism management viewpoints and approaches towards several other socio economic issues that I raised. For example: the linkage between skills issues and retention and the availability of decent affordable accommodation, especially in some popular tourism destinations, or the potential negative impacts of the current unregulated growth of sharing accommodation platforms and services. I think that they may have naturally assumed that most, if not all, tourism bodies would lean towards supporting short-term commercial gains for some over the longer term, wider social and economic consequences for everyone else.
On this basis I believe that there is considerable merit in exploring the development of good working relationships with JRF on a number of issues and, especially, around those that some of our key strategic tourism partners might be more reluctant to be seen to tackle head on. Unless there is any serious objections raised by members in the next week, I will start working on doing this in parallel to pursuing our research proposals.