Month: May 2018

Latest in the ongoing spat between New York City Authorities and sharing accommodation platforms.

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The dispute between sharing accommodation providers and the New York City authorities has taken a new twist with the City Council recently announcing that it is to seek new powers to compel sharing economy hosts to disclose the names and addresses of all their listings and other information, for example, whether the whole or just part of the property is let and whether the property is the owner’s primary residence.

This relatively simple detail will allow the City’s enforcement agency to implement existing state legislation, including rules that those letting the US equivalent of social housing (rent regulated apartments) are to seek permission before sub letting and a rather inconvenient ban on them profiting from doing so.  Similar moves in San Francisco are cited as almost halving listings when it came into force in January 2018. Not unsurprisingly major platform providers, like Airbnb, are challenging the proposals and the rational and research behind it.

Like many similar restrictions proposed or imposed in several world class destinations of late, the principal concerns appear to be the alleged negative impacts on the supply and affordability of long let accommodation for residents, rather than the more mundane concerns that some of us may have relating to the application of appropriate safety and other regulatory standards in the sharing accommodation market.  Maintenance of level regulatory playing field for all those providing commercial, as opposed to truly occasionally shared, accommodation may be a major concern for parts of the tourism industry but at the local, often more politically driven level, the impacts on the housing market for voting residents seems to be the more immediately pressing concern.

That being the case perhaps a little more emphasis on the housing impacts might help bring some urgently needed improvement on the more directly tourism related issues here in the UK?  The All Part Parliamentary Group on Tourism’s inquiry in to the sharing economy is still developing its main report for publication in the summer. I will make sure its raised again with them, perhaps from the point of view point of maintaining affordable accommodation for tourism industry workforce, especially in popular destinations?

Articles on the latest developments in New York and past articles on others, including San Francisco can be found on our “Sharing economy” page accessible from the main menu at Britishdestinations.net or go direct to the page at:  https://britishdestinations.net/tourism-the-sharing-economy-and-its-wider-implications/

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New £1m round of the coastal revival fund announced for England.

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Details of a new £1m round of England’s coastal revival fund, which opened today and closes for applications of up to £50k on 5 July 2018, have been added under the Britishdestination.net, main menu tab “New Funding” or you can go direct to the relevant page of our corporate website at:

https://britishdestinations.net/new-funding/coastal-revival-fund-england-bids-close-5-july-2018/

National policy update

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I attended both the Tourism Alliance Board meeting and their afternoon policy briefing session in London yesterday.   Points of possible interest to colleagues that I took away from the meetings and conversations at the fringes include:

Sector Deal.  Negotiations with Government continue; it’s not over the line yet but with luck it could be and possibly even quite soon.  Skills, business visits and events and the creation of a number of “tourism zones” are now the key components.  Connectivity, one of the original pillars of the consultation with industry, appears to have diminished in its profile, if not disappeared entirely.  Previous assurances that any Tourism Sector Deal wouldn’t become the sole focus for future relationships between the Westminster Government and the tourism industry also appear to have weakened; there is now talk of the Sector Deal “replacing” the existing 5 point plan/ tourism strategy. It may be just a matter of semantics but nonetheless, it is a source of concern since the Sector Deal components alone don’t come anywhere near to addressing the full range of needs and the problems requiring government intervention within such a large and diverse “industry” as “tourism”.

The strategic objective remains to get the principles of a sector deal approved by Government and then deal with the fine detail during the subsequent negotiations which will inevitable follow between any headline approval and  the actual start date for implementation of any deal agreed.  In being persuaded to support this approach I sincerely hope that we don’t inadvertently find ourselves corralled and with a definitive Deal that doesn’t necessarily support the full range of the needs of much of our industry.

Forthcoming CSR. The Westminster Government has just started year 4 of the current 5 year financial cycle and, as confirmed by the PM in January, there will be a full Comprehensive Spending Review undertaken in 2019 designed to set departmental budgets for the next 5 year period commencing April 2020.  The CSR gives us a fleeting opportunity to help set priorities and shape national conditions for UK tourism up to 2025 and critically (if we broadly all agree) to press the case within that for adequate resource (at least the same and preferably more) for VisitBritain and, as currently constituted, for VisitEngland within VB.  We could of course also use this opportunity to seek to a return to a more (totally?) independently structured VE and/or for a return to a much stronger domestic, tourism development and a domestic marketing role for it, either within or without the current VB structure.

We do need to be mindful that the CSR negotiations are multi layered. There is a case to be made to DCMS about tourism.  There is then the case to be made to Treasury by DCMS regarding funding for their full portfolio of digital, culture, heritage, media, sport and tourism and then the subsequent negotiations, post the CSR announcements regarding who gets what from DCMS’s actually annual allocation and how they then prioritise the competing demands for the usually smaller amounts made available to them. The bigger the ask and the higher the associated cost, the less likely we are to get it.

In all of this I would also seek your agreement to lobby strongly for the protection, if not enhancement, of certain specific VB/VE roles and functions, most notably the collection, interpretation and presentation of national domestic, international tourism and day visitor research and statistics.  There are certain things that nationally  we can muddle through without or botch together.  We know this largely because successive budget cuts and reorganisations have forced us to do just that, off and on, over the last 25 plus years. However, the coordination, production of  timely, continuous, comparable national statistics isn’t one of those areas we can possible fudge and it is therefore an area that needs to be robustly defended.

GBTS/IPS data delays. There has apparently been a glitch with GBTS following the move to online data collection.  It seems likely that full 2017 year data and any outstanding late 2017 early 2018 monthly’s data sets may not now be published until July or later.  Similar issue may be developing with IPS as its collection has also recently moved online.  VB and its National Tourist Board partners are working with their contractors to rectify the problems at the earliest opportunity. Clearly getting the statistics correct and resolving any underlying collection or analysis issues, is far more important than getting the data published sooner, regardless.

I think we can be reassured that the problem is in very safe hands and is being dealt with, albeit that it does means that some national data and any local full year 2017 data, that is either partly derived from or calibrated with GBTS/IPS may now also be delayed.

Package Travel Regulation. The revised EU PTR comes into force in the UK and indeed across the rest of Europe in July of this year.  In essence it introduces a wider definition of what constitutes a package, introduces a new category of package covered by the regulation, the “Linked Travel Arrangements”, and it requires businesses to inform customers of whether or not the goods and services they are offering are protected by PTR.  Currently there is much that isn’t protected that customers might naturally assume is covered.

The regulation also clarifies that car hire is an item in its own right for the purposes of calculating whether two or more items are being sold together, which would then constitute a package.  This will bring a raft of mainly flight and car hire only deals under the regulation.  The regulation also brings dynamic packaging under its remit, making organisation that have previously argued that they are merely selling other people’s products on their behalf and collects money centrally in one payment responsible for the package and therefore now liable to comply with PTR.  Depending on the precise circumstance this could well affect several DMO sales models and those certain other information, sales and distribution businesses and services.

The new regulation also closes the loophole whereby payment for a package of items could be taken separately for each element without it being deemed a “package” by simply taking payment details once and then passing these details securely between each of the businesses involved.  A package will now be formed if a period of less than 24 hours lapse between each payment being taken for each of the component parts.  Some DMOs may operate sales and services on this basis?

Linked travel arrangements will almost certainly catch a number of DMOs, partner and local businesses.  LTA’s are deemed to have been made where items are bought and paid for separately but are clearly contingent on each other.  Thus, whilst it might be permissible to suggest to guests on your website that whilst they stay they might wish to book to play golf at a local course with no liability and without an LTA being formed, the same wouldn’t be true if the property advertised much the same arrangement as, “a golf weekend”. By inference staying at the premises and being able to play golf are contingent on each other’s availability.  Clearly there is a lot of potential scope for LTAs to be formed around destination events, cultural activities sport, arts programmes and even in carelessly framed general destination promotion and general partnership working.

Fortunately, LTA’s are less onerous in that there is no legal liability attached to the first party for the second party’s product or for an accidents and other events that may occur whilst with the second party (as there are with a true package).  You will, however, be required to clearly inform the customer that there is no protection offered via what is effectively a recommendation and, bizarrely perhaps, there is also a requirement to have insolvency insurance for your own business, in order to be legal able to offer an LTA product.  What the implications of having to have insolvency insurance are for DMOs I have yet to investigate.

The good news is that Government guidance on the new package travel regulation will be published in July, at about the same time the regulation comes in to effect.  Recognising that this is not ideal trading standards, who will be responsible for enforcing the new regulations have (or will be been instructed in England at least) to take a light touch approach to enforcing the regulation, some of which, in any case will, not be properly established without case-law being developed, a process that typically takes a number of years or more.  The underlying message for any organisation that isn’t already a major package travel operator and therefore already conversant with much of the PTR is, “don’t worry unduly”.   Nothing will happen overnight and what does eventually happen, will not be too onerous and commensurate with the scale of the operation being run i.e. small businesses doing small things to improve sales and customer experience are not the target of this regulation.  I do recognise that for DMO and especially any DMO that is based largely around a local authority department, there will be real tensions around knowingly having to ignore regulation, particularly if it is your own services that are technically in breach and where it is almost certainly part of your own wider organisation that is responsible for the local enforcement.

People 1st You may have heard that regrettably, People 1st the sector skills council for hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism in the UK went into administration in late April (pension liability rather than trading issues?).  Fortunately the Workforce Development Trust has now acquired key strategic elements of the skills and talent management organisation allowing People 1st to continue as a standalone organisation, enabling it to continue focusing on its key activities including apprenticeships, EQA, accreditation services and work in the devolved nations and international markets.  Unfortunately, it seems that the People 1st’s highly valued insights & opinion (research and statistics) prevision may have been lost in this process.

There is more but this is more than enough for one update…

Tourism Society Tourism Symposium 4th – 5th June

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TOURISM SYMPOSIUM
Changing Times for Tourism
Greenwich 4th – 5thJune 2018
@tourismsociety #TSymp18

The Tourism Society brings their annual Symposium to the UNESCO world heritage site of Maritime Greenwich with an exciting and fast paced programme covering global trends, opportunities and challenges facing the tourism and travel industries.
Expert speakers will cover topical issues including the sharing economy, capitalising on innovation, balancing the benefits and effects of over-tourism, examining the value of heritage as an attractor for economic development, tourism’s long term sustainability, and all from a UK, EU and international perspective.
Our Confirmed speakers are:
Darren Henley OBE, Arts Council England
Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel and Tourism Research at Euromonitor International
Dr James Kennell FTS, Tourism Research Centre, University of Greenwich
David Statham, Managing Director, Southeastern
Angela McConville CEO, of Greenwich Foundation for the ORNC
Neil Smith, Planner, Knight Dragon Developments Ltd
Kevin Smith, General Manager, Devonport Hotel (De Vere)
Dr Richard Denman FTS, Director, The Tourism Company
Geoffrey Lipman, Director GGTI, & Co-Founder SUNx Strong Universal Network
Barrie Kelly, Chief Executive, Visit Greenwich
Deborah Heather, Head of M Assessment Services, Quality in Tourism
Merilee Karr, Founder and CEO of Underthedoormat.com.
Shain Shapiro of Sound Diplomacy
Tom Littlechild, O2

Date: 4th – 5th June 2018
Location: University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College
Special Rate: £159 for British Destination Members
Book now and enjoy a special partner rate! Click ‘No’ to the question: Are you a tourism society member? And then proceed to book your £159 member ticket.
Book your ticket here >

Privacy Policy Update

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You are being emailed automatically by the Britishdestination.net website as a subscriber to “the blog” or, you are receiving a copy of “the blog” by email from me because we believe we have your existing consent to communicate with you.  We have your consent as either a representative of subscribing member organisations (existing customer), or as the representative of non-member, partner organisation with whom we have good reason (legitimate cause) to communicate with, and who we have been communicating with for some time, regarding our mutual interest in UK tourism.

If for some reason there has been an error made and we do not have your consent, then please accept our sincere apologies.  If you email me by the, reply to facility, or follow the instruction at the bottom of the email we will remove you from our database immediately.

A new first draft privacy policy has been added to the governance page of Britishdestinations.net.   This will now be revised over time as experience demands. It is narrative instruction designed both to inform current and future members of our policy and also to act as an internal instruction on what to do and what not to do regarding personal information handling as it relates to the limited information held by British Destination.  Comment and views on improvements, as ever, are always welcome:

Privacy Policy as at 24 May 2018

 

Single use plastics and Gig economy updates

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I have belatedly added the HM Treasury consultation on tackling single use plastics via charges or taxation to Britishdestinations.net:   https://britishdestinations.net/consultation-responses/open-consultations/tackling-the-plastic-problem-using-the-tax-system-or-charges-to-address-single-use-plastic-waste-closing-18-may-2018/

Issued in March and closing 18 May it canvasses views and on a range of possible measures but specifically excludes deposit schemes on drinks containers, the implementation of which is the subject of a separate consultation to follow, and the so-called “Latte Tax” and measures designed to reduce usage and improve recycling, of “paper cups”, again which will be the subject of further consultation.

On the one hand given the growing reliance on single use items within the visitor economy and, on the other, the undeniable importance to place making of cost efficient, effective waste collection and management it is one of those many non-mainstream tourism areas that shouldn’t be ignored by tourism practitioners.  That said having removed the deposit schemes and paper cups issue from the immediate debate there may be far less for destination managers to do immediately, other than to ensure those directly responsible for waste management in the locality are aware of and responding to the consultation.

For my part, unless I am given any substantive comment from members, I intend to major on HMT putting more emphasis in their deliberations in to understanding and then influencing the consumer behaviour that is driving the problems.  In particular more emphasis on addressing, “life on the go” and “the takeaway society”.  To my mind if it was financially as or more beneficial to sit and drink your coffee from a proper cup or have your sandwich off a plate than out of paper cup and off a card and plastic container then you might begin to start to reduce the growing demand for disposable containers and packaging.

That might involve looking at the wider tax and business cost base rather than just focusing on taxing plastic at the point of manufacture or at the point of sale to the public.   In leisure destinations at least, we should be aiming to ensure sitting and enjoying the experience, using quality reusable items returns to being the norm.  We are not simply all in danger of rushing about drinking out of paper cups and plastic bottles but increasing people are growing to accept sitting in situ and drinking out of them as being the norm.  That may have implications for the waste stream but far more worryingly also for the quality of the experience and of the quality of places we jointly endeavour to manage and maintain.

In another area of strategic policy interest, Brighton and Hove are the latest City to move to exclude Uber. It’s one of a number of actions across a raft of new technologies and media that combined may now serve to put pressure on Westminster Government to reconsider their somewhat Laissez-faire attitude towards emerging disruptive technologies and new business practices, including with them the sharing economy and accommodation provision.

I have added a new Gig economy page to reflect member’s interest in Gig economy issues, in addition to the existing sharing economy page.  It includes an article on Brighton and Hove’s dispute with Uber:  https://britishdestinations.net/tourism-the-sharing-economy-and-its-wider-implications/gig-economy/ 

Deloitte – Passion for leisure A view of the UK leisure consumer – Q1 2018

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The latest Deloitte quarterly leisure industry update, issued earlier this week, has attracted some mixed reporting from the national media, possibly because it suggests that general consumer confidence in the first quarter of 2018 is improving, whilst unusually in that circumstance, leisure consumer confidence is not tracking that improvement but is diverging from it.

The reports notes that this is very unusual and may simply indicate a lag or alternatively  a real changes in established consumer behaviour? The findings on current leisure consumer confidence and the reported likely future intent will be of interest, if not of some concern, to those responsible for the management and promotion of popular UK domestic destinations.  The report’s summary paragraph states:

“Leisure consumers are still feeling the pinch in the first quarter of 2018. Although inflation is starting to ease and wages continue to gradually climb, consumers have reduced their spending on most leisure activities. Looking ahead, consumers have little intention to spend more in the coming months, leaving spending on holidays significantly below the level seen last year”.

See the headline report and access links to the detail at:

https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/consumer-industrial-products/articles/passion-for-leisure.html