Month: December 2018

Recent poor press for outbound UK tourism.

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Last week saw two pieces of poor press for outbound UK tourism. A story originated by The Sunday Times and widely repeated elsewhere suggested that as part of the worst-case contingency planning Minister were due to consider the merits of issuing a warning not to book to travel post 29 March, should the UK find itself in a no deal Brexit. A Downing spokesperson said that this was “categorically untrue”. To my mind at least that still begs the question of whether that means: that there are no concerns about the worst-case impacts on travel, no plans to discuss these in Cabinet, or just no plans to issue a public warning?

Regardless, the damage is done and the media speculation will add to the existing Brexit inspired public uncertainty with, in all likelihood, further detrimental impacts on forward bookings for overseas holidays. This may or may not be good news for the domestic market, helping in part to counter some of the natural reaction to uncertainty which is generally to put off big-ticket decision making for as long as practically possible. In major parts of the domestic market that can mean safely delaying booking to nearer the time, or even until the very last-minute:

Meanwhile, the EU has just confirmed that UK citizens will in future have to apply for a three-year ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) authority at a cost of c £6.  ETIAS allows entry in to the EU without visa and applies to citizens of over 60 countries, allowing visits for leisure or business for periods of up to 90 days (but not for work). ETIAS has been in the process of being introduced for several years and is currently due to come into forces in 2021.

It really shouldn’t be a total surprise that as residents of a non-EU, non-visa country, UK citizens will in future need an ETIAS.  At less than the cost of a cup of coffee a year it isn’t expensive.  The issue, if there is one, will be with be around process.  For most it should be a simple and take no more than a couple of weeks, although more complex cases could take several months to get security clearance.   It will require forethought on the part of the individual whenever planning to travel to the EU (as it does now to the US) and there could be major problems around the EU coping with volumes during the initial period of introduction.

Thankfully for the UK ETIAS is not yet in place, or we may have been faced with the prospect of everyone from the UK wishing to travel immediately post 29 March, potentially needing to apply in the relative short period left leading up to Brexit.  The introduction will come later but will then involve hundreds of millions of potential visitors from 60 plus countries, so look out for potential chaos ahead.

The real importance of the story lies in the its ability to add yet a further layer of uncertainty to issues around travel; travel which is of particular personal interest to almost everyone and as such of more immediate concern and far easier to understand than say the impact on UK business prospects or the impact on banking or the economy.  Such seemingly insignificant little stories have a habit of bring home to the public at large the reality that in a such an unbelievably complex situation like Brexit you can’t simply have your cake and expect to eat it:


Recent VB Foresight editions and other research now available.

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I have added the December and November Foresight editions 162 and 163 and the November inbound trends quarterly to our protected members section. The trend quarterly provides detail of the IPS July to September and rolling annual totals which will be of general interest to some.

Foresight 162 looks at: Perceptions of getting a visa to Britain (a bit of a specialist topic?) and 162 is of far more general interest:  How the world views Britain – 2018. If nothing else you should read the headline summary at page 6 of this Anholt National Brand Index Survey report.  See para 2 and 3 of the our protected  VisitBritain page in the members section:

(members if you have forgotten the login email me).

I have also belatedly added a report to the research and statistics library giving insights into day tripping to and from cities and towns by international visitors to the UK. The executive summary pages 7 to 11 is well worth looking at regardless.  The main body text contains a great deal of detail, some of it specific to larger County areas and to a number of named destinations including some British Destination members:


Retail forecast for December 2018

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There has been a great deal of speculation in the National media about the continued pressure on traditional retail.  The source of the latest comment is the Springboard forecast issued, I believe, yesterday.  I am attaching the short 3 page summary, for those who don’t use the Springboard footfall system within their destinations or who for other reasons might not have seen the base document or other summary detail:

2018 Christmas footfall forecast 2018

Clearly the Christmas period is a critical time for many in bricks and mortar based retail.  Poor performance at this time of year can lead directly to a rash of closures post-Christmas when typically some of the biggest annual  bills need to be settled. This forecast adds to a raft of other concerns relating to maintenance of the urban destination product and the quality of place that underpins it.

Plans for the biggest single investment in Blackpool’s tourism industry for more than a century are unveiled today.

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Today Blackpool has publicly announced its  £300m investment plans for the  key former Central Station site, on a scale befitting Blackpool’s status as the UK’s iconic popular tourism destination.  Phase one, towards the Northern,  promenade end of this large linear site will commence in 2020 for completion in 2024 with other phases then to follow over the following 4 to 5 years.  Read more in the VisitBlackpool announcement here.

For those reasonably familiar with Blackpool, the site is essentially some or all of the series of major car parks on the former marshalling yards and Central Station site that runs North West (?) from the motorway link road past Blackpool football club to just short of the promenade.

Credit Card Fees a reminder

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A member  destination has recently brought to our attention a potential issue regarding the charging of credit card fees.  In 2012 the practice of charging more than the actual credit card transaction charges were outlawed, previously, often a set sum of say a £2.50. credit card fee per transaction.  In January 2018 consumer protection was further enhanced by banning the practice of  charging, as an additional item, the actual credit card or other electronic payment fees (PayPal etc.), typically in the order of 2.5% of the total sale price.

In essences this means that cost has to be absorbed by the seller,  or added into the upfront cost of the product, just as all other costs of providing any goods and service are.  Alternatively where the business model doesn’t allow this, a say selling a third-party’s product, an administrative charge can be added, provided that charge is shown or promoted up front.  Hence, some well-known third party delivery services now charging a 50p service charge as opposed to a  50p credit card fee as they previously did.

The legislation is enforced by local trading standards and, like all similar legislation enforcement, it will be driven largely by increased consumer awareness and the weight of  any consumer complaint, particularly if  and when focused on one a particular business or event.

The issue raised with us is that it would appear that not all destinations and/or their businesses and event organisers in particular are fully aware of the changes.  Were the events are being organised, facilitated or sponsored by the local authority, a consumer challenge made to the local authority’s trading standards department might at the very least be a tad embarrassing !  You and your business may well be up to speed on this but if in doubt it is worth checking  before the prices of next year’s events and  activities are agreed and, more immediately, before any of them go to print.

The Westminster Government’s press release is at:

The  full UK Government’s guidance on the consumer rights (payment surcharges) regulation 2012 updated to include the 2118 amendments is at:

A useful shorter guide from  Business Companion is at:

VisitEngland Annual Destination Management Forum presentations

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I am attaching links to the presentations given at last week’s VisitEngland’s annual Destination Forum held in London, for the interest of both those who attended and who will also have received the links from VE and for those that were unable to attend and may not have been given access.  Please note that the transfer service link to the files sent direct to individuals by VE will expire on 7 December.

The extremely interesting briefing on “Airbnb experiences” their relatively new experience based offer in the UK, was too large to copy and place on our website (and I suspect on VB/VE’s, hence the use of a transfer service for sharing the detail?).

This informative file (a recommended read) can be downloaded  before 7 December and then saved at:

The rest of the presentations will now be available to British Destinations members for  many months to come via this “LATEST INFORMATION & UPDATES” page. Accesses them below:

2018 VE DF Improving productivity – Helen Puddfoot (1)

2018 VE DF Commercial Division update – Carol Dray (1)

2018 VE DF England Activity Update Andrew Stokes (1)

2018 VE DF Latest Tourism Trends Humphrey Walwyn (1)2018 VE DF – VisitEngland_s new Business Advice Hub Ross Calladine (1)

2018 VE DF – Taking England to the World Sarah Berryman and William Smart (1)

2018 VE DF Making most of English Tourism Week Emma Field (1)

2018 VE DF Making most of English Tourism Week Corporate press update Charlotte Sanders (1)

2018 VE DF – VisitEngland Assessment Services Hayley Adcock (1)