Month: October 2019

New members can now BOGOF.

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Well not quite “buy one get one free”, but almost, as new British Destinations members can now get up to 18 months membership for the price of 12 months.

Destinations joining between now and 31 March 2020 can choose to pay their annual membership for 2020/21 after 31 March 2020, or pay it at any time before 31 March and then pay nothing more until April 2021, for the 2021/22 financial year.

So why join now? These are already exceptionally challenging times for destination-based tourism, for destination management and marketing and, in all likelihood, they are about to become a whole lot more challenging for the legislative framework that supports and underpins the multitude of businesses and business sectors and other public and private sector interests that combined make up the “tourism industry”.

We are about to enter a potentially protracted period of unprecedented legislative change. If not correctly shaped, these changes could profoundly affect core domestic and international inbound tourism and the visitor economies of most popular urban and rural destinations across the UK. Some of this is Brexit relate, other issues from: potential tourism levies, through better regulatory compliance in the sharing and Gig economies, to the reduction in the use of single use plastics and achieving net zero before 2050 in tourism, are ongoing and looming larger by the day.

In order to tackle these challenges and exploit the opportunities, we are asking you to consider joining like-minded destinations in developing and representing the interests of your locality, your businesses and of your local resident communities to Government, to Government agencies and to other tourism business sectors.  Together we can achieve far more than we can ever do acting as individuals and individual destinations.

If you are interested call Peter Hampson on 07714341379 or email me at: peter.hampson@btconnect.com.  No hard sell, just an honest and open conversation on the mutual benefit of membership and the added value it can bring to your own local partnerships.

For more background and what we can do to assist you and your destination visit: https://britishdestinations.net/about/membership-join-us-today/

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New research added and Queens Speech update

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1. UKINBOUND have recently published a timely, research-based report which aims to fill the evidence gap around potential impacts on UK tourism arising from a future points-based immigration scheme, linked to a potential £30k salary floor for “highly skilled and skilled” workers.  The report details the importance of EU and other international workers to the industry, the problems associated with anything like a £30k salary floor and suggests other alternative approaches, including adding language skills in this sector to the list of skills shortages.

The research notes that while on average the “industry” in general is reliant on EU (c 10% of the total workforce) and other overseas workers, some regions and some sub-sectors are far more dependant, for example the Lake District. Both the executive summary and full report are available at:

https://britishdestinations.net/1194-2/content/a-perfect-storm-the-end-of-free-movement-and-its-impact-on-the-uk-tourism-workforce-2019/

2. In yesterday’s Queen’s Speech a number of the 22 plus Bills outlined will have direct or indirect impact on tourism.  These range from the Agricultural Bill which will move agricultural payment and support from an EU yield based system to a stewardship and environmental basis, the Immigration and  Social Security Co-ordination Bill that would see the adoption of a points based system from 2021 and the Airline Insolvency Bill which would allow/compel insolvent companies to use their own aircraft to recover customers.  Other Bills aim to improve Broadband, modernise UK air-traffic control arrangements and reform UK rail with an emphasis on simplified fares and ticketing. There also plans to change arrangements for the allocation of tips from a voluntary code of practice to a regulated regime which allocates all tips, in full to the employees in a fair and transparent manner.

In normal circumstances, we would now start to look at the proposed Bills in far more detail and start to consider what if any aspects need to be influenced and how and when that might take place as the various Bills progress towards enactment, over the life of the current Parliament.  These are of course far from normal times. Once we have a little more clarity around the Brexit outcomes and the potential (or not) for a General Election in the coming few months, we can then look again at proposed legislative programme.

Coastal tourism update

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Three things of which the last is by far the most important:

1. The BBC are doing a coastal community’s day today, live from Penzance, highlighting coastal issues.  What I have seen of it so far has been balanced; much of it reading like an overview of one our own or our partners’ summaries of the wider coastal socioeconomic issues.

The seasonal nature of tourism and a passing comment on second homes, in relationship to their impact on affordable homes and local resident’s 365 day a year contribution to economic and social well-being is the only references to tourism, negative or otherwise, that I have picked up on so far.  This is potentially a timely intervention for coastal community interest’s courtesy of the BBC?

2. I spoke at the Coastal Partnership Network’s, English Coastal Challenge Summit 2019 in Southampton yesterday.  The event brought together the Coastal Partnership Network, the LGA Coastal Special Interests Group and the Coastal Communities Alliance (we are founding members of the later). I gave one of two keynote introductory addresses: Coastal Presentation  which, unsurprisingly, majored on tourism but in the context of wider  destination management, socioeconomic and environmental issues

The main theme of the day was a round national coastal strategies and resilience and adaptation policies.  It may just have been a combination of the subject matter and background disciplines of the majority of the audience but I was left feeling that socioeconomic sustainability and, within that the sustainability of tourism as an economic driver, was regarded as very much a secondary concern to environmental and physical sustainability.  I may be entirely wrong ?

If I am not wrong then it suggested to me that there may be as much work to be done yet around influencing the understanding and priorities of other coastal disciplines, as there is around educating non-coastal interests and Government.  We can only do so much nationally. There may need to be more engagement done locally with other relevant coastal discipline groupings, who you may have direct links to?

3. The opportunity to influence the shape of post Brexit funding arrangements is not yet closed off.  If you believe that coastal tourism interests would continue to be best served by retaining a separate Coastal Community Fund, rather than to seeing the fund potentially subsumed into a generic, all comers Future Prosperity Fund, then it is not too late to lobby on the issue.  There are of course potential pitfalls, for example, such a move might leave the coast reliant on a heavily oversubscribed CCF and debarred from applying competitively to a future FPF?  On past experience we think that unlikely and something that could in any case be tackled, if and when it looked like it might be about to happen.

We continue to highlight nationally the marginal nature of many coastal political constituencies, the apparent difficulties coastal bids (in common with rural bids) often face in open competition against all other typologies for funding and the undeniable benefits that the, albeit oversubscribed, CCF has already had. It is an existing UK fund not of EU origin, it isn’t in anyway broken, so why try and fix it?

With the potential for a General Election looming, at some point soon, it may be well worth local coastal destination management bodies, raising the issue of retaining the CCF with sitting and/or any prospective MPs.

Sharing Economy and Tourism Levy updates

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Sharing economy. In conversation with colleagues I have discovered that in my recent update on Airbnb’s announcement of a voluntary consultation on registration, I may not have been sufficiently explicit about why some in the industry may be concerned by this apparently helpful move?

At around the same time as the consultation announcements Airbnb also declared their intention to go public during 2020.  It is one of the few new technology companies that actually makes a profit, although it is not entirely clear just how much.  The prospect of a robust and effective registration scheme in the some or all parts of the UK would almost certainly have some impact on the number of  host and properties offered and, in all likelihood, in turn on the future profitability of all sharing platform business models and therefore, potentially, on the company’s future valuation and offer price.

Consequently, some commentators are questioning both the motive and timing of voluntary consultation, especially given the parallel calls for action from several other quarters and the very real prospect of  some form of action on registration in Scotland, potentially quite soon.  Their questions are whether the consultation is a genuine attempt to help move the issue forward, as I think we would all hope and naturally assume, or more cynically,  whether it might be a move to try and delay, remove or minimise the impact of the possible implementation of a more robust and truly effective registration scheme at least until post 2020? None of us would of course wish to believe the latter.  Hopefully this may help explain why it is though important to try and ensure that the widest selection of views possible are aired during the Airbnb roadshow, as it makes it way around the UK and that other ongoing activities are vigorously pursued regardless of the Airbnb’s helpful intervention.

Airbnb have also now submitted their response to the Scottish Government’s consultation.  This makes it very clear what Airbnb already think is fair and reasonable and why they support a very simple. no cost, not checks registration that excludes all hosted venues and whole properties let for less than 28 nights. In their view simple registration should only be applied to whole property actually let for between 29 to 139 nights, with whole properties let for 140 nights and above being registration and subject to planning regulation and business rates.

They make some very persuasive arguments but leave questions unanswered around how the simple registration of some hosts, in some circumstances but not all, will address all the genuine concerns.  Particularly those around safety and legality and what, if any greater responsibility and liability, they are prepared to take on for the accidental or deliberate omissions of some of their hosts. Something that will seldom be addressed by a system of self-declaration, or picked up subsequently by guest reviews alone.  These are largely things that guests can’t conceivable check and most, not unreasonably, already assume the platforms and responsible authorities will have dealt with on their behalf before ever promoting or allowing the product to be promoted.

See the Airbnb response at:  https://press.airbnb.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2019/09/Airbnb-Submission-Scottish-Government-Short-Term-Lets-Consultation.pdf

Tourism Levy. The Scottish Government is now also consulting on the “Principle of a Local Discretionary Transient Visitor Levy or Tourism Tax” (closing 2 Dec 19).  It is an interesting document that airs important issues and contains useful background data.  The outcome of the consultation may not impact directly on destinations outside Scotland but will inevitably influence thinking around the merits or demerits of  levies already being discussed elsewhere in the UK.

Of note, at least one lobbying group is already recommending the exclusion of Scottish residents in order to support the domestic industry.  Notwithstanding the added administrative complexity that would bring, it is an interesting new angle in this already potentially contentious debate.  My immediate reaction is that in Scotland it could reduce number of destinations with sufficient overseas and other UK resident visitors to warrant implementing the discretionary scheme to perhaps one or two at most. Edinburgh and it surrounding area, for example, accounting for c 50% of all overseas visit to Scotland, leaving not a lot for everyone else, once spread amongst them.  In my view, if the principle were accepted in Scotland and then replicated in the thought process for England and Wales, it would effectively limit the utility of any potential levy to just a couple of major Cities and possibly the odd other smaller international honey pot destination.  Some may think that that is a good thing but it does beg the question what avenues are then left available to everywhere else that desperately needs some form of sustainable resource to help maintain and build on the success of their urban or rural destination?

Find the consultation under the “Consultations” main menu tab of Britishdestinations.net or go direct to the page at:

britishdestinations.net/consultation-responses/open-consultations/scottish-government-consultation-on-the-principles-of-a-local-discretionary-transient-visitor-levy-or-tourist-tax-closing-2-dec-19/

 

TMI Conference Chester 23/24 October 2019.

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Please see message from colleagues at TMI regarding the forthcoming conference in Chester:

I am writing to ask if you would be able to let your members know that there is still time to book their special delegate rate at the TMI Annual Convention in Chester on 23/24 October.  The convention is a great opportunity to network with other tourism professionals and to find out the latest in tourism.

Tickets for the full two day programme include

  • Student/practitioner summit – Engaging Heritage, Keeping up with the followers’ travelling through FOMO and social media, Empowering the future workforce
  • Choice of four study tours – Moving into the world of work/young person’s guide to Chester; Interpreting heritage for a younger generation – A technological tour; Targeting the luxury market around the world; The changing shape of city centres
  • Networking supper at Storyhouse – a unique Chester venue
  • Full convention day including a policy panel on tourism taxes, case studies, learning from DMO successes, data protection, crisis management and breakout sessions on meeting the needs of an ageing population, transitioning travellers to visitors and launching a new UK visitor attraction – The Tottenham Hotspur Experience.

Find out more about our truly inspirational speakers here.

Two date rates (plus VAT) are £220 for TMI members, £245 for affiliates (ATCM, HTF, BAFA, British Destinations, TS, TA, RTPI, IPM, and British Bids) and £270 for non members or if short on time delegates can book for just one day. Student rates start from £25.  You can book your place here.

To find out more about the convention please visit www.tmi.org.uk.

If you have any questions do let me know.  Thank you.

Best wishes

Nell

Nell Barrington FTMI

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