1. Entertainment Licence fees increase. Following last year’s public consultation which garnered strong objections from national trade bodies PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited), the copy right holder for over 100k artists, have announced a new, largely higher, fee structure for Special Featured Entertainment (SFE) Tariffs, commencing on 1 July 2019. From that date new licences for SFE (essentially events that use recorded music) will attract the new fees while existing licensees will see these imposed, on renewal.
The fee multiplier will increase annually until 2023 representing a c 130% increase over the 5-year period. The current average multiplier rate is c 3.8p per 25 people, per hour and the new rate for 2019 4p rising to 9p by 2023. (the consultation originally proposed an upper rate of 22p!). British Beer and Pub Association, UK Hospitality and others are of the view that the increased fees will result in fewer events being held and in associated business closures. You should also note that in a move to rationalise copyright payments, PPL have since February 2018 been collecting Performing Rights Society (PRS) payments in a single payment for each area of common activity (PPL broadly represent artist and PRS the creators and publishers of the material performed).
Destination managers will wish to be aware of this additional pressure on local businesses and of ongoing efforts to lobby PPL for a change of heart (however, unlikely that now is). Whether your local businesses will be fully aware themselves of the impending changes will vary depending on local circumstances and the level of their trade association engagement. PPL’s explanation of the new charges can be accessed at: SFE TARIFF PPLPP301 – Nightclubs, Pubs / Bars, Restaurants / Cafés, and Hotels the consultation and other detail here and some typical example of the recent trade press and national media coverage here and here
2. Unauthorised term time holiday taking. The number of fines for unauthorised school absence in England increased by 75% in 2017/18 to approaching 261k of which 223k were attributed to unauthorised in-term family holidays. The steep increase is accredited, in large part, to English local authorities returning to a stricter application of the rules governing absence, following the 2017 Supreme Court finding in favour of the Isle of Wight Council (the Platt case). Since 2013 head teacher in England can only grant leave of absence in “exceptional circumstances”. There are no fines applied in Scotland and Northern Ireland for such absences. After the imposition of the same ruling in Wales, Head Teachers there were subsequently given the flexibility to granted up to 10 days in term time for family holidays where they feel the circumstance justifies it.
Popular press coverage of this story continues as it has done throughout to include accusations of profiteering by the tourism industry through unjustifiably hiking up prices during school holiday periods. There are some very complex dynamics in play, that go way beyond the question of simple supply and demand within the UK, or probably more importantly for holiday products outside it. We are not simply competing for limited capacity in relatively common holiday periods with the rest of the UK but with most of Northern Europe and much of the rest of the world beyond.
Our position remains that removing children from school for purely financial reasons and/or to access a particular choice of holiday type or location is seldom if ever be justified. However, we also recognise that in the modern flexible, working environment there are now many other reasons why taking a family holiday, of any kind, might not be practical within what is in reality a very narrow window of c 12 school holiday weeks. In particular, we recognise that many owner operators and the vast majority of employee working within the tourism and visitor economy have very limited opportunities to take family holidays in the school holiday periods. Ensuring that their right to a have family holiday is preserved is our principal concern, not least because maintaining that right impacts on employee retention and our ability to build and demonstrate a sustainable career path with tourism. If you get the opportunity please promote the case for greater flexibility and the need to support tourism industry workers and others, who by the nature of their employment, have no real choice but to holiday in term time or forego a family holiday: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-47613726
3. Coastal funding announced. On the 23 March MHCLG announced the latest awards for Coastal Communities Fund and Coastal Revival Fund in England, that combined amounts to £36m for 70 projects to be delivered between 2019 -2021/22, including many which were directly or indirectly tourism related: MHCLG press release. These good news stories have been widely picked up by the local and regional media.
Our aim regarding CCF nationally remains to retain this very welcome, targeted funding stream well beyond the current 2021/22 round and wherever possible to encourage the creation of funding mechanisms of a similar targeted nature for other key tourism sectors and types of rural and urban tourism areas. In our experience tourism does not do particularly well against other industries when fishing for funding in much larger more generalist economic development pools. The post Brexit direction of travel appears to be more towards big national schemes and a distinct danger that CCF and its currently unique approach will get lumped into some bigger pot or pots.
4. CEO of Welcome to Yorkshire resigns. Late last week Welcome to Yorkshire announced that Sir Gary Verity its high-profile CEO had resigned on health grounds. The resignation has since generated a good deal of local, regional and latterly national attention, not all of it necessarily helpful for this popular national tourist destination: https://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/17522051.sir-gary-verity-quits-welcome-to-yorkshire-on-health-grounds/ and https://www.itv.com/news/calendar/2019-03-22/yorkshireman-sir-gary-verity-resigns/