Month: January 2018

Annual attractions survey your help required

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Original email from VisitEngland reads:

Subject : Annual Attractions Survey – Help Needed Please!


We’ll soon be launching the Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions for 2017, and would very much appreciate your help.

The study is a really useful one for the industry – it is an official statistic which is used by the government to gauge the performance of the attractions sector across England, and it receives wide amounts of media coverage – both local and national. Last year’s results can be found here.

The survey is self-completing and we’re always looking to increase the number of attractions that take part. We’d really appreciate it if you were able to help us in the following ways, which would help us to boost the robustness of the survey:

  • Please let us know if you are aware of any attractions that have opened or closed in your destination in the past two years
  • Please encourage attractions in your area to take part in the survey, and where possible to allow us to publish their visitor figures – we can supply copy for newsletter and other communications to help with this
  • If you receive enquiries about the survey that you are unable to answer, feel free to direct any of these to
  • If attractions get in touch to say that they haven’t received the survey by the end of March, please direct them to the same email address above
  • If you collect any attraction visitor figures, it would be great if we could use these to ‘plug the gaps’ where attractions don’t answer our survey. These results can either be published with the attractions’ permission, or used anonymously in our trend results

The survey is set to go out to attractions by post and online from 19th February, and numerous reminders will be sent out until the closing date on the 14th May.

Thanks in advance for any help that you can provide. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Best wishes,


John Duncan

Insights Executive

VisitEngland, Upper Ground Floor, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET

T: 020 7578 1415 | E:

For England tourism: W: | Twitter: @VisitEnglandBiz | LinkedIn: VisitEngland

For destination inspiration: W: | Twitter: @VisitEngland | Facebook: VisitEngland



Annual conference booking webpage is now live

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The British Destinations, Tourism Alliance and Tourism Society joint one day tourism conference (19 March, RAF Club Piccadilly, 10 am – 3 pm  followed by Parliamentary tourism reception 4 pm – 6 pm) can now be booked via the Tourism Society webpage:  If you experience any difficulties booking in the first instance please call the Tourism Society offices on 0203 696 8330 for assistance.  If they can’t resolve the issue for you then please contact British Destinations.

Further detail and updates are also available on the page:

Conference sponsors:

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Annual Conference 19 March booking detail

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The booking website for the joint British Destination, Tourism Alliance and Tourism Society conference to be held at the RAF Club Piccadilly on Monday 19 March 10 am to 3 pm, followed by a Parliamentary reception 4 pm to 6 pm  has now been set up by the Tourism Society and it will be open to take bookings on the three organisation’s joint behalf  very soon.

Circumstances mean that I may not be able to advise you on the day that it does open for bookings, so I would ask that you take an occasional look at the Tourism Society web page: . The page is complete but needs minor correction and as at 4 pm 22 January the booking facility was not accepting bookings from “non-Tourism Society members”.  Please note attendance at the conference is limited to 150 delegates and is likely to prove popular, given the involvement of  all three organisations and the support of TMI and London First.

We will also update our 2018 conference page with additional information as we get it:

Conference sponsors:

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Annual conference 19 March 18 update

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Final planning for the delivery of our joint conference in London with the Tourism Alliance and now the Tourism Society who have joined us as joint hosts are progressing.   Publication of the conference flyer with all the administrative detail has been delayed slightly by the recent reshuffle as we await final confirmation of certain speakers before we go firm on the detail.

Rather than delaying your planning further, here are the essentials that you will need to consider and organise your attendance:

Monday 19 March 2018 between 10 am and 3 pm at the RAF Club 128 Piccadilly, W1J 7PY, followed at 4 pm to 6 pm by the annual tourism Parliamentary reception in the House of Commons. Tickets for conference will be available via the Tourism Society website (specific link details to follow) at £95 plus VAT for members and £145 plus VAT for non-members.  The Tourism Society will be handling all the bookings and payment arrangements on behalf of the three organisations. 

There is an upper limit of 150 delegates for the conference, so I would ask you to book early once the link goes live.  Updates on the event will be posted at:  and further blogs and email updates circulated to keep you informed on progress on the booking site and on the event, itself.

Conference sponsors:

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A fresh approach to accommodation accreditation

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In response to the concerns of member destination we have looking at the needs to differentiate and award those who work within the rules to provide a quality offer and those that may or may not, in a sector increasingly influence by self-accreditation based platforms and user reviews; consumer reviews that will naturally start from the assumption that what’s offered is bound to safe and legal and we’ll judge if it clean and of quality, or it wouldn’t be promoted.  Sadly, we know that this natural assumption can often at best be heroic and that increasing new technologies and new platforms are compounding not rectifying historic accommodation issues, especially around safety and legal non-compliance through ignorance, omission or even deliberate deceit.

Quality in Tourism (QiT) have recently announce and launched “three new modernised and great value quality assessment schemes to reflect the dynamic developments happening in accommodation. The schemes start at an entry-level with the “Safe, Clean and Legal” scheme, moving on to a full Quality Star Rating Assessment and then a new “Unique” Accommodation Assessment Scheme designed for properties that offer their guests the WOW factor by being unusual or having special facilities”.

We at British Destinations believe that the safe clean and legal scheme, in particular, offers destination managers and individual businesses a really useful tool to start clearly differentiating their product in a sea of user reviews. It has the potential to help restore some more order to destinations’ online or print based accommodation promotion policies and it may also be of equal interest to local  accommodation associations and others who have largely moved away from insistence on membership of quality grading schemes.  To take matters forward we have worked with QiT to produce a briefing document aimed at destination manager and management organisations: QiT and British Destinations   whilst specific information on what Safe Clean and Legal actually encompasses can be found in the QiT briefing note: SCL – Standards Jan18 .

Individual businesses wishing to learn more or get engaged should contact QiT  using the website links and general QiT email address.  Destination manager and local accommodation associations should contact Andy Woodward directly:    0845 300 6996 in order to find out more or to arrange a meeting to discuss local needs and explore local benefits and opportunities in more detail.

A couple more festive crackers you may have missed…

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Also in the news over Christmas and New Year period increase council tax for holiday homes and a potential “hotel bed tax”:

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have supported proposals to consider significantly increase Council Tax on second homes (as opposed to holiday homes) of anything up to 500%.  The controversial proposals are still in development and may not get the various levels of Government approval they will require to be enacted.  The next stage in the process of consideration is due to take place later this year.

Nevertheless, the initial reports and proposals have already prompted renewed discussion, both in and outside of the Yorkshire Dales.  These have centred on: the property market, second and holiday homes, affordable housing and, in particular, the roles of the latter in maintaining viable local communities; and especially the retention and ongoing renewal of younger families, within many of our more appealing and therefore more visitor orientated rural areas.

The problems of sustaining viable communities in popular tourist areas (rural and indeed urban), as we know, are rather more complex than simply the relative cost of housing or the popularity of second, often vacant, homes.  Among other major issues looming high are the availability of good quality, regular employment and the state of the local economy.  In many rural areas tourism and the visitor economy are inextricably linked to both:

Birmingham won the right to host 2022 Commonwealth Games with 75% of the c£750 m infrastructure and other costs to be funded by Central Government, leaving 25% or an estimated c£180 m to be found locally.  There is much speculation that a proposed £1 or £2 per night hotel room tax may have played a role somewhere in the negotiations and/or will now go on to play a significant part in helping contribute to finding that money before, during and, presumably, after the games.  The published details, if indeed it is a serious proposal, are still scant.

Followers of the various proposals across the UK to raise additional funding from tourism and the visitor economy to help service it, will know that Birmingham was a leading light in the so far failed attempts to get major city-wide, hotel focused Tourism Business Improvement Districts (TBIDs) approved in the UK.  They have subsequently dabbled with suggestions (also failed) for a voluntary hotel based bed night levy, both the TBIDs and levy being aimed principally to help fund the maintenance of the City’s major business convention and exhibition trade.

If the Common Wealth Games results in some form of voluntary or mandatory levy it would be a very interesting development indeed for many other destinations, including most major Cities but also for any other significant destination of whatever type.  For this reason alone, it seems likely that, regardless of any local agreement reached or to be negotiated in Birmingham, there is still likely to be considerable coordinated opposition to proposals for a “hotel tax” from those with an eye on the potential follow-on consequences.  Certainly, to date it is our understanding that it is the potentially wider UK implications of accepting the first new “tourism tax” that has led to stanch opposition to previous levy proposals in London, Bristol Edinburgh and Birmingham from major hotel groups and others.

Birmingham and the development of a hotel tax in support of the delivery of the Common Wealth Games has the potential to be the key strategic destination management issue during the next 4 to 5 years:


Job Vacancy VisitWiltshire – Commercial Development Manager, Great West Way, 2 year fixed term £35k to £40k closing 10 January 2018

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VisitWiltshire have a vacancy for a Commercial Development Manager for the Discover England Fund funded Great West Way project based either in Salisbury or along the Great West Way.  The post is for a fixed two-year term and offered at £35k to £40k with a closing date for applications of  10 January 2018.

Find more detail under the “job vacancies +” main menu tab at or go direct to the page here.

Please consider circulating to colleagues who may be interested.

In the news over the Christmas.

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Just in case you missed them three items in the news over the festive period: Business rate changes, mandatory landlord licensing and misleading holiday advertising:

Business rates in multi-occupied properties. As first aired in the Autumn Budget the so-called “staircase tax” introduced in England and Wales last year, following a Supreme Court ruling, will now be repealed, subject to the outcome of a consultation launched on 29 December 2017 to 23 February 2018 and subsequent Westminster Parliamentary approval. Although the Act under consideration applies to both England and Wales the proposals are specific to England only.  Any changes in Wales are a matter for the Government there to assess and despite research I am currently unsure as to what the precise position is in Wales.   Hopefully someone will now tell me, so I can tell you.

Last year’s change to how businesses are charged where they occupy various different parts of the same building, that are linked by either corridors or staircases and which are shared with other tenants resulted in many businesses and, in particular smaller ones, paying a combined higher level of rates than under the old and apparently reasonably well understood system of a single rate for any adjoining (wall to wall, ceiling to floor) rooms. Smaller businesses were especially prone to disadvantage due to the loss of “quantum discounts” and the mainly negative, unintended impacts on small business relief calculations. Moreover, the increases were backdated to 2015 in England and 2010 in Wales and this was viewed as particularly harsh given the inability of businesses to have forecast and have made reasonable financial provision for them.

The proposed changes to the Local Government Finance act 1988, if enacted, will essentially aim to try to reinstate the previous system as it was prior to the Supreme Court ruling. Businesses will have the right to appeal against the Valuation Office Agency valuation if they feel that they position has not been correctly reinstated or where they feel that the new separate valuations are more appropriate (more advantageous) to their particular circumstance. It is proposed that the changes to be made will also be applied retrospectively and therefore there should be a number of repayments due. It is all  rather complex but well worth having a basic understanding of when you are dealing with local SMEs on a regular basis. Although nothing is ever certain the feeling is that the proposal will be widely supported and that the 1988 Act will be amended in due course. If you need to know more the consultation documents giving chapter and verse can be accessed at:

This is generally good news for the businesses paying higher rates than they previously did. It is rather less good news the Valuation Office Agency who will have to revalue the recent revaluation and deal with queries and appeals post enactment and it may be particular unwelcome news for Local Councils who are due to issue 2018 bills within the next 3 months and who will be responsible for administering any subsequent revised billing and refunds at some point, presumably post March 2018?  I can’t find any references yet as to where the burden of any implementation costs are likely to fall.

Mandatory property licensing. Following last year’s consultation in England Ministers have also indicated that they will now look to impose mandatory licensing on a class of smaller properties multi-occupied properties previously exempt. Rules that have applied to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) of 3 or more floors would then apply in England to properties of one or two floors where they are occupied by more than a given number of separate occupants or family groups. In addition, new conditions may be added for existing and new licences, including new minimum floor space requirements for single and shared room occupancy and a definition that will exclude some individuals with certain convictions from being allowed to let properties. The inclusion of “shared housing” in the mandatory licencing regime would mean that the number of licensed properties in England is likely to rise from c 60k to over 170k.

From a tourism prospective it should allow greater control of HMO issues found in former and functioning guesthouse and B&B areas of resort towns and Cities and it is likely to take in many more of the typical student let properties in popular university towns and Cities and of course it will also have a major impact on London Boroughs and potentially on the London rural town and coastal resort commuter belt. These changes, combined with recent increases in local authority powers to levy and retain, for enforcement purposes, significant on the spot fines where persistent breaches are found, are all aimed at stamping out rogue landlords, reducing overcrowded and eliminating the provision of the poorest quality private rented accommodation.

This should be good news for tenants, mixed news for responsible landlords (although few might agree) and broadly good news for Councils that will no longer be forced to apply for selective licensing to tackle a range of housing issues related to smaller shared accommodation and low-rise HMOs. In England there are c 65 authorities that have already felt compelled to accept the associated costs and apply to adopt one or more selective licencing scheme within their areas. In Wales the Government has already adopted a more robust approach to licencing and registration some years ago and there are no proposals to change the current arrangements in Wales.

Holiday promotions. A recent Which? report suggests that a small number of major overseas tour operators and travel companies are making misleading or even false claims about the level of availability of holidays and the true level of price discounts being offered.  Based on a sample of 30 advertisements over a 3-week period in July and August 2017 they found 16 cases where the price was the same or lower after a limited time or availability deal had ended.  Which? claim that in some cases the promotions could be in breach of consumer law.  As a result, some companies have already agreed to review their advertising practices,  whist others have denied any wrong doing.  See more at:

In general, the Advertising Standards Authority (UK advertising industry body) do tend to take such reports quite seriously and it is entirely possible that further action may follow against UK-based companies, particularly if the Which? report is then supported by substancial consumer based complaints.  Hopefully the travel companies and others, often primarily advertising online, will take heed of the need to avoid artificially pressuring customers to buy now or lose the deal.   Meanwhile the Competition and Markets Authority (Government body) who may well also have a strong interest in the above issues, continue their investigation into online accommodation booking following complaints from the Bed and Breakfast Association last summer and subsequent CMA consultation which closed on 15 December.  Unlike ASA the CMA can take far more robust action against both UK and non-UK based companies: