I attended a very good British Tourism Industry Group (BITG) quarterly meeting yesterday Wednesday 29th. This is the VisitBritain (VB) Group that looks primarily at international inbound tourism but does of course reflect VisitEngland’s (VE) role within VB for managing both international and domestic tourism in England.
A number of strategic subjects were discussed and I was able, as you would expect, to get a number of our positions on issues both domestic and inbound international across. More observations on key issues aired to follow in a separate note.
The immediate feedback I need to pass to you now is that I was able to make a plea on behalf of domestic tourism interests in the event of the coronavirus impacting on UK tourism, something that seem increasingly likely. So much so, that a Tourism Industry Emergency Response (TIER) group meeting was called to follow on from the BTIG meeting. The points I raised were recognised by VB and supported by other trade groups and major business representatives around the table. I am therefore reasonably confident that it would have been reflected in the TIER group discussions that followed.
The coronavirus is such a fast-developing issue that it is difficult to comment on it with any lasting accuracy. At this point I just want to reassure colleagues that its potential implications for UK international inbound, domestic outbound and domestic tourism are being weighed and considered at the very highest levels. If and when it becomes appropriate, we will all be informed of any action to be taken nationally on our behalf, or any actions requested of us all to assist the National Tourist Boards to manage any difficulties arising from the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, please do consider making it clear in any local, regional or national discussions that you are involved in that the factors, perceptions, fears and attitudes that might depress international inbound tourism to the UK are equally likely to depress the much larger UK domestic industry as well. The simple point I am try to get established is that if at any point the international inbound market warrants additional support then in all likelihood so too will the domestic industry. Indeed, in terms of its scale and economic impact the domestic industry may have an even greater need?