PM 10 June Covid-19 update

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Three thing of potential note for you:

1.  You will have seen yesterday’s announcements regarding hospitality in England, which on the one hand removed the hope of an early 22 June reprieve for pubs with garden and on the other offered some hope of a reduction in the two metre rule but seemingly only after initial hospitality reopening, commencing from 4 July, has demonstrated it can work safely at the current 2m distance. And somewhere in between the two, a minor about face on the closure of zoos and safari parks which can thankfully now open from next Monday in England.

Whilst we now have more information, it hasn’t necessarily given us the degree of clarity that we might have hoped for by now.  If anything, this reinforces the strongly held belief that getting the opening of general retail in England (from next Monday) right, first time round, is absolutely critical to the prospects, course and timing of the reopening of hospitality, leisure and tourism that will follow it.  I appreciate that engaging retail in destination management and tourism matters isn’t always that easy in every urban destination but this may be the one time that retail holds the key to the immediate future prospects of all the other component parts of the visitor economy? If it isn’t firmly on your radar by now then it should be.

2. I have added among other research this week’s BVA BDRC covid-19 consumer attitudes tracker to our c-19 research page. It is yet another excellent report in their now 11-week series. I was interested to note the headline comment: “Anticipated lead times for domestic holiday bookings continue to shorten, but it is international holidays and flight booking intentions which have seen greatest momentum in the last couple of weeks”. I was initially alarmed by this comment because until now the general assumption has been that any recovery would be led largely by the domestic market and the presumption attached to that, at least by me, that this included both inbound international and outbound “domestic” travel, which along with the UK domestic component, make up the three complimentary and sometime, to differing degrees, competing legs of the “UK tourism industry”.

The increased interest in overseas holidays might easily be attributed to the number of recent popular media reports highlight well know budget airlines plans to resume flights, travel companies and travel writer promoting the likelihood of price led promotion and news from popular near European destinations of their domestic reopening and expressions of a strong desire to welcome UK holidaymakers this summer.  On reflection I don’t get any sense that this media reporting, or in turn the interest it may have generated, as taken too much account of the practicalities and a potential mountain of rules, regulation and processes yet to be agreed, let alone overcome at both ends of such holiday trips.  Or indeed any proper realisation that the summer 2020 holiday trip being offered abroad is likely to be very different to anything they may have experienced before and, therefore, potentially less appealing, once that starts to become more obvious to all concerned?

Whilst much the same might also said about the 2020 domestic summer holidays, save of course for added outbound complications like: airports, flights, travel insurances and medical arrangements, it would be a travesty if UK residents found it easier and/or were actively encouraged in part by UK policy decisions to travel en masse abroad to destination where the product and experience was outside UK control, rather than holidaying and have a fulfilling experience within the UK (the bulk of which directly benefits the UK economy and employment).  It would be particularly galling if any imported increase in the R rate generated by leisure trips abroad (if there was any) then resulted, as it might, in the extension to or the reintroduction of restrictions on the tourism and leisure industry operating within the UK (accommodation, transport, retail, attractions etc.)  and not simply on any UK based elements of outbound domestic industry (travel agents, carriers airports etc.).

I am sure that any changes to air travel advice and regulation will be taking in to account the potential covid-19 health impact of short-term, outbound short break and longer holiday travel (where many UK residents are mixing mainly with other UK residents) and will not focus on inbound international leisure and on inbound and outbound international business travel (where the indeed travel may be from and to place where the R rate may be lower than that in the general UK population).  I hope I am either wrong about the potential issue or, at least, right about the likely policy approaches to it.

3. With the permission of Visit Wiltshire I thought colleague might benefit from seeing the domestic marketing and messaging being used in reopening promotion for the Great West Way. Clearly a good deal of thought and effort has gone into this approach:

Great West Way Targets Responsible Travellers


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