Month: February 2020

Prudent planning

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As with my previous notes on this issue of 24th and 30th January I am loathed to accidentally set hares running around Corona Virus.  However, as it becomes increasingly clear that a UK domestic outbreak could occur, I feel obliged to repeat my two previous pleas and add a third:

  • If you have not already done so, do consider undertaking some sensible, basic low-profile contingency planning, even if it only something as simple as say checking that key event cancellation policy would cover you under various circumstance from declared national pandemic, through to a localised outbreak. Are the physical and economic tourism impacts being considered in any local emergency planning that may already be taking place?  I am confident that most local planning already has contingencies for flooding in the local housing estate, but is quarantining a major hotel or hotels or accommodating large numbers of sick guest locally something destination all already plan for?  Better to ask and know now, when it isn’t an issue than to have to find out in a hurry, if and when it becomes one.
  • The impacts on inbound and increasingly outbound domestic international travel are largely self-evident and relatively easily quantified by say counting journeys taken, bookings made or cancelled with or via a relatively small number of very large airlines, travel operators etc.  The impact on the domestic tourism industry isn’t as self-evident and it isn’t as easily or critically so quickly quantifiable.  We do however have indisputable historic evidence that in every other similar circumstance of an incident within the UK (terrorism through to Foot and Mouth), the impact on the much larger and wider spread domestic tourism industry is at least as great if not far greater than that on the inbound sectors. If you have opportunity to remind colleagues of this in any planning meetings, local or national government forums etc. please do so.  I have been making this point when and wherever I can but perhaps not unreasonably in the circumstance, the immediate focus always falls back on the here and now problems of the inbound industry.  The key message is that if there is a serious outbreak in the UK now or as could well happen at any time during the coming 3 to 12 plus months, domestic tourism will take as big or bigger hit and need as much if not more support than any other tourism sector.
  • The new ask.  Given it is more difficult to quantify the impacts on the domestic market quickly, rather than waiting until we are asked for anecdotal or hard data, can you please consider keeping your ear to the ground (as I know you all do anyway) and reporting any soft or hard evidence of Corona Virus impacts specifically on the domestic market to me. I can then report this as and when necessary to colleagues working at national level.   I am of course also open to reports on international tourism impacts too.  I do recognise that the collection and subsequent usage of such information needs to be handled with great care, if we are to avoid it becoming a self-fulfilling exercise with or without an outbreak attached to it.

Apologies, if this appears to be teaching granny to suck eggs. I know the majority of you will be way ahead of me already.  For those who aren’t or can’t, I hope it gives you the external evidence you may need to encourage others to start allowing you to react now before the event; an event that looks increasingly more likely today than it did a month ago when I first dared to start mentioning it.

Quality in Tourism DMO Summit 12 March 2020 Excel London

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How are Destinations Integrating with the Short Term Sector?

Excel in London will play host to the first QT DMO Summit at the Short Stay Show on 12 March 2020. Sponsored by Quality in Tourism the event will include panel sessions with leading practitioners in destination management who will discuss Success stories, Taxation, Partnerships and Giving Back.

Attendees of the DMO Summit will also receive VIP access to the Short Stay Show and the full seminar programme happening all day at the show, as well as a networking lunch.

Quality in Tourism DMO Summit
Date: 12 March 2020
Time: 10am – 1pm
Location: ExCel London

VIP Access includes: Networking Lunch, Access to the Short Stay Show Premium Industry Conference, Coffee Break, Access to the Short Stay Show & Guest Experience Show.

To reserve your place for up to 2 of your team members please RSVP to: diane@shortstay.show

Hubbub Why wing it? campaign

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You may have seen reference to the Hubbub, Why wing it? environmental campaign which is highlighting the impact of Stag and Hen parties flying abroad.  The campaign has researched and is targeting the 20 to 45 age group with the message that there are less expensive, less stressful UK based alternatives which have a significantly lower carbon footprint.  Stag and Hen parties are not everyone’s preferred market but of course not all of it is necessarily about excess and a lot of it can be potentially good quality, high value business, depending on the audiences targeted.

I just thought it prudent to bring the background detail to your attention, so that you can make an informed judgement on whether or not to consider getting involved or supporting the campaign’s aims: https://www.hubbub.org.uk/whywingit 

Hold the date, 2020 Joint Annual Tourism Conference 20 April 2020

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I am pleased to be able to announce the date and outline details for this year’s joint British Destinations, Tourism Alliance and Tourism Society Annual Tourism Conference.

Follow the successful format establish over the last two years, the event will now be held 10 am to 3 pm on 20 April 2020 the Monday of this year’s, slightly later than normal, English Tourism Week.  Held in a new venue at the Royal Overseas League, the event will cover a range of topics of strategic importance to a wide based senior tourism representative audience, as usual presented by a panel of excellent, expert speakers and industry figures.

As ever delegate will be invited to attend the Industry Parliamentary Reception in the House of Commons from 4 pm to 6 pm (at no additional cost).   In addition, the Tourism Society have kindly extended an optional invitation to all delegates to attend their House of Lords Dinner which will follows on from the reception (to be charged at their member’s rate).

The final details are still being tweaked and will be published to our 2020 conference page at:  https://britishdestinations.net/annual-conference-20 April-2020/ in due course. You will be notified again when this happens.

I am delighted also to be able to announce the detail of the first of our confirmed conference partner, Quality in Tourism.  Their continued support for the event and, more importantly, their sterling efforts to maintain excellence in quality standards and accreditation across a wide range of skills and services relevant to UK tourism and leisure industries is greatly appreciated:

QT Logo CMYK (002)

http://www.qualityintourism.com

The UK’s Point-Based Immigration System Policy Statement

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The Government have published their policy statement that underpins and articulates the aims and objectives of the new points-based immigration system, which they intend to have in place by 31 January 2021.  There is far more detail to follow but the 12-page policy statement sets out the principles, clarifies the direction and sets the tone.

The publication has already prompted a great deal of comment and concern ranging from the view that the point-based system is too lax and will allow unnecessarily high levels of immigration to concerns that it is too harsh, particularly with regard to lower skilled, lower wage employments who are largely excluded.  Not unsurprisingly a number of major trade bodies, including some within leisure and tourism have already made comment and will almost certainly be making further representations in due course.

From the broader destination prospective destination managers may wish scan, if not read in full, the 12-page report to better understand the context, rational and importantly the tone.  From that you will be better placed to assess the degree to which the Government might or might not be willing or able to flex from the headline statements as the policy is turned into practice.  See the report at: https://britishdestinations.net/strategies-and-policies/ 

Meanwhile, Kurt Janson at the Tourism Alliance has kindly produced a summary the key points for tourism and leisure of the policy statement so you and I don’t have to:

The new system will require people wanting to work in the UK to achieve a total of 70 points or more. The allocation of points being as follows:

Mandatory Requirements

  • Offer of job by approved sponsor                                                               20 Points
  • Job at appropriate skill level                                                                        20 Points
  • Speaks English at required level                                                                 10 Points

Salary Requirements

  • Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039                                                      0   Points
  • Salary of £23,040 – £25,599                                                                           10 Points
  • Salary of £25,600 or above                                                                            20 Points

Addition Points Available

  • Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC)                     20 Points
  • Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job                  10 Points
  • Education qualification: PhD in relevant STEM subject                         20 Points

There are also a number of other changes to immigration requirements that are important to know about. These include:

  • The skills threshold has been reduced from RQF6 to RQF3 (ie. from degree level to A level)
  • The cap on skilled workers has been “suspended”
  • The resident labour market test has been removed which should simplify the process for businesses
  • MAC will be commissioned to produce a shortage occupation list covering all jobs encompassed by the skilled worker route and to keep the list under regular review
  • MAC will determine where there are sector shortages and allocate the additional 20 points for temporary periods.
  • Skilled workers will be able to be accompanied by their dependants.
  • The Home Office will consider adding further flexibility into the system including additional attributes that can be ‘traded’ against a lower salary such as greater range of qualification levels or other factors such as age or experience studying in the UK
  • The Youth Mobility Scheme will be retained, but not expanded
  • Students will also be covered by the points-based system and will achieve the required points if they can demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution, speak English and are able to support themselves during their studies in the UK.
  • EU citizens will be able to continue to use e-gates, but the Govt will keep this policy under review
  • For employers sponsoring skilled migrants, the process will be streamlined to reduce the time it takes to bring a migrant into the UK by up to eight weeks.
  • The Govt plans to have the application system up and running by Autumn 2020, so that migrants can start to apply ahead the system taking effect in January 2021
  • The Govt will set out detail on phasing out the ability of EU nationals to use of national ID cards to enter the UK shortly.

It is important to recognise that today’s announcement is just the policy paper and that the Home Office will be publishing further detail on the points-based system including detailed guidance regarding the points tables, shortage occupations and qualifications over the coming months.

 

Seeking information on the engagement of British ethnic groups in domestic tourism activities.

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Another question, this time directly from me on the “Forum: ask questions get answers” section of Britishdestinations.net.

I’ve had reason to look at the evidence and research base around the scale of British ethnic minority engagement in domestic tourism and visitor economy activities.  I wanted to identify whether there are any real or perceived barriers to full engagement and critically, if there are, what can be done to overcome the challenges and turn them into mutually beneficial opportunities.  I am struggling to find any major robust, sources that cover the full range of potential issues. This suggests I may be: wrong about the existence of a problem (I doubt it), looking in the wrong places or, that this is an area in potential need of further investigation?

To make progress I need member destinations assistance to better understand where we are starting from and what if anything might need doing now.

See the full request at: https://britishdestinations.net/need-an-answer/overcoming-cultural-ethnic-and-religious-barriers-to-engagement-in-popular-domestic-tourism-activities/

Can you help colleagues identify augmented reality tour suppliers?

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Colleagues at a member destination are seeking contact details for any UK based companies that you may have heard of or better still worked with on augmented reality projects for tourism attractions/trails.  More under the “Forum – ask questions get answers” menu tab of Britishdestinations.net or go direct to the question at:

https://britishdestinations.net/need-an-answer/augmented-reality-tours-in-the-uk/

As every whatever is gleaned will be kept on record for other members to use if its needed.

Sustainable tourism issues and sustaining tourism in the UK

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I attended an excellent Tourism Alliance briefing session on Sustainable Tourism yesterday, covering a range of topics from assessing the climate vulnerability of the National Trusts’ tourism offer, to sustainable aviation and much else between.  The audience was a mix of industry trade association, NGO, major businesses representatives, together with a few delegates from Government departments.

There was much said about the need to ensure tourism was both environmentally sustainable and seen to be so and a lot good practice was shared.  I don’t intend to dwell on this aspect here and now as you know as much about this already as do.  As you would expect, I used the opportunity the event gave to raise a number of higher, strategic level points, which were not necessarily addressed elsewhere within the day’s discussions.

Firstly I aired my own emerging thoughts around the increasing need to account for aviation’s pre and post flight travel related carbon impacts within their total impact, at least for planning and policy development purposes.

To explain: few of us live by or holiday near to an airport.  It is not uncommon for UK residents to make a longer journey to get to an airport to go on an overseas holiday than they would to take a typical break or holidaying in the UK. A good proportion of that associated travel (particularly, outside London and the SE airports), is currently undertaken by private car or taxi, rather than by public road or rail transport; that is now likely to have to change to as yet some unspecified degree to meet climate change targets.

The UK aviation industry’s lobbying body has just launched their vision of how their industry can achieve net zero by 2050, whilst still accommodating up to a 70% increase in flights.  Logically that could/will also involve a potential 70% increase in associated road and rail travel in the UK? Does the burden of managing the leisure element of that additional road rail travel fall to UK aviation policy, to UK tourism policy as a whole, or by default, as I fear it might, does it fall to and further muddy the already confused “domestic tourism” equation? (https://www.sustainableaviation.co.uk/wp content/uploads/2020/02/SustainableAviation_CarbonLeaflet_20200129.pdf)

We currently have an unquantified but potentially significant proportion of UK’s annual travel attributed to leisure purpose within the DfT road and rail usage figures that is actually being generated, not for the domestic leisure industry’s benefit but by domestic residents heading abroad (and in doing so taking much of the economic benefit with them). If Government are to make hard choices and the public are to make informed decision about their own carbon impacts, then surely, we need to be looking at and talking publicly about the totality of the journeys taken and not just the direct (albeit almost certainly a far more impactful) aviation related component? I would certainly hope that from the development of public policy point of view that this is already the case? I am not in a position to confirm or deny this.

After years of passing interest in the topic I was surprised to learn that for very good practical accounting reasons, the UK aviation impacts are measured on all outbound flights only, regardless of carrier. Flights and their environmental impacts into the UK are all attributed to and will be dealt with by the country the flight depart from.  It is the way all international air movement is measured; so it would be wrong to do it any other way. Nonetheless, it does pose some interesting and potentially complex questions and answers about, the true scale, presentation and the popular public understanding of UK’s aviation impacts.

I refrained from asking anything taxing about this, largely because I am still trying to work out what the possible implications are for a country with significantly more residents fly aboard than overseas visitor flying here. All I can be certain of so far is that it isn’t a matter of making some basic assumptions and a few simple calculations to get to the true scale of UK’s contribution to the world’s aviation’s impacts.

Separately, I raised the current critical role of the private car in transporting by far the largest proportion of domestic visitor, especially to rural and more remote built destination, that are generally less well served by a reliable, regular, sufficient large capacity public transport system.  I raised the concern that Government policy already tended to favoured, “essential” commuting, over the apparently less economically compelling case for discretionary leisure travel (witness Network rail, now deliberately targeting Bank and school holiday periods for major closures).

Consequently, significant swathes of the domestic tourism landscape could be unintentionally deprived of its one essential raw material, should future road transport policies and/or alternative public road and rail transport plans not properly address the mass transportation needs of tourism, and especially those needs beyond that of our largely, already better served major, core Cities. Very much a topic that should fits well with the levelling up agenda but one that could fall between the core planks and competing needs of commuting, business and goods v leisure transportation?

I also had the chance to make the point that in many instances the growing friction around “over tourism” was being driven not simply by the problems associated with too many visitors but also by the unintended socio-economic consequences of new developments in how tourism and tourist demand is being serviced. In particular, new and often unregulated innovations like the sharing economy. For example, the impact of increasing numbers of former residential property being turned over to more lucrative short-term holiday lets, simply because of a new route to market has suddenly made it possible.  All well and good but when local authority and local government suddenly find they have no real authority over, or they can no longer adequately govern the direction and speed of critical socio-economic developments, there is bound to be some push back, not least from apparently disenfranchised locals.

I also dropped a last minute AOB appeal in for the industry as a whole to pay particular attention to the practicalities of delivering a much needed deposit return scheme in high volume, popular destinations, where the usage of single use containers was relatively high and the incentives and opportunities for temporary visitors are very different to that of the resident or regular commuters.  If the chosen scheme fails to fully achieve its key aims in popular destinations, then there could easily be unintended reputational and quality of place issues generated for those destinations involved and more importantly for “tourism” as a whole.  Destinations are increasingly alive to the need to be seen to be taking a lead on what is a bigger scale issue for many of them. To make real progress they need tools that match their somewhat unusual circumstance of higher demand from, higher volumes of generally unfamiliar temporary visitors.

All these points appeared to register.  In particular, that about sustaining the ability of visitors to visit existing, but often socially and economically vulnerable tourism infrastructure, that has limited realistic alternative economic purpose, be that a historic house, a rural area or an established coastal or inland destination town.

At the end meeting the National Trust representatives and I agreed to try and form an industry working group to formulate some joint ideas and strategies on domestic tourism transport policy, with a view to informing our own and Government’s future thinking. The Tourism Alliance joined the conversation and agreed to facilitate this group with the aim of engaging a wider range representative bodies and interest groups.  All in all, a good result.   It is not clear yet when we might first meet but rest assured, I will do everything possible to ensure we now do.

If there are any related topics around the domestic transport policy that you feel I’m not already adequately covering, or if you or colleagues have a particular expertise to offer to the working group, then do please let me know, so I can include your views or get you engaged in the meetings.