In preparation for possible light at the end of the lobbying tunnel, post BREXIT, I am in the process of reviewing and updating our list of standing lobbying issues, beyond the current headliners . These are : future funding for destination management, (including the potential role of tourism levies, Destination BIDs etc.) the growing need for appropriate regulation and control around the sharing accommodation and GIG economies and the structures underpinning and level of support available for domestic tourism in terms of both marketing and product and place development.
I am reasonably clear on what needs to be retained in the longer, also of major concern list, because it is the” stuff” that you regularly raise with me. What I’m less clear on is a number of longstanding issues where there may have been some significant change of late. For these I do need to secure views and, if more representation is thought to be needed by enough of you, preferably some up to date evidence and examples so I can refresh the case to be made.
The first of these areas I need help with is national transport policy and its practical application in regard to the relatively low priority given to tourism and leisure as opposed to commuting and the mass movement of manufactured goods. For many years this failing in National policy priority was a standing item raised at any and every opportunity. Latterly it has not been aired much, if at all. With hindsight I believe this may simply be because there have been a number long a waited road improvements at well know destination bottlenecks and, in particular, because the Highways Agency has recently endeavoured to avoid and to suspend or remove major maintenance work on the Motorway network over Bank Holidays and at peak holiday periods. Hurrah, about time!
Unfortunately, in the background a restructured Network Rail appears, if anything, to have taken a completely opposite approach, condensing what previously would have been longer periods of overnight and occasional weekend closures into somewhat shorter periods of total closure. To compound the problem, wherever possible, they are then deliberately targeting these closures towards Bank and school holiday periods, where they are perceived to have less impact on critical week day commuter traffic.
Total closure is apparently cheaper than the alternative stop start approach. Perhaps it is for them but surely the immediate and longer-term financial impact on travel reliant economic activity like tourism also needs to be factored in? The targeting of holiday periods may have been occurring for some time now but has been less apparent, to me at least, because of ongoing industrial and timetabling issues that overwhelmed reporting of problems on our railways.
Assuming, as I do, that the issue should be refreshed and placed back on our lobbying agenda, can you please consider indicating whether you are still having problems? If so are these still road and rail issues or principally now rail? Do have you any recent example to share with me and preferably anything to evidence the nature and scale of impact on your destinations?
I will be touch again to ask questions on a couple of other areas in due course. Meanwhile please feel free to tell me what areas you want to be raised on your behalf and on behalf of your own local business and other partners. I do try to keep ahead of the game but any help is always appreciated.