Month: August 2020
English UK have kindly agreed to allow British Destinations members access their guidance note for the reopening of English Language Training (ELT), training establishments and student accommodation including student hosting with in the UK. English Language Training is overseen by DIT in Westminster, embraces DfT and educational requirement and involves both travel and accommodation the remit of DfT the Home Office and DCMS amongst others. The Home Nations maintain control of some elements of this, consequential ELT is one of the more complex of areas included within the “tourism” umbrella. A paper detailing the scale of ELT and the potential losses faced can be found in our covid-19 research page (currently 7th item): https://britishdestinations.net/c19-research/
To protect English UK IP rights I have agreed to password protect the access page, if you or your computer has forgotten the password for our corporate site email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Members are free to use the guidance and distribute it to their partners, although you are asked to refer non English UK member ELT establishments to request access a free copy from English UK directly (a recruitment lead). Both the document and the rider detail can be found at: https://britishdestinations.net/599-2/content/english-language-training-english-uk-reopening-guidance/
England. Although widely circulated the opportunities to participate in VisitEngland Autumn promotions may have passed some destinations by? The majority do involve partnership arrangements that I appreciate may preclude engagement from many destinations because of, say revenue impacts of covid-19 and/or because of the need to service core destination marketing activity from within already limited budgets. Nonetheless, it is worth looking at the opportunities, some of which close soon. One at least, the PR opportunity, is entirely free to enter and needs no more than a suitable good news story for Autumn, Winter or beyond, making it open to all regardless of practicalities like budget, the scale of the destination or staff resource: https://www.visitbritain.org/be-part-our-domestic-marketing-campaign-escape-everyday
Wales. The ongoing campaign, Love Wales love taste continues into September: https://businesswales.gov.wales/foodanddrink/LoveWalesLoveTaste . The more cautious and somewhat later opening for most hospitality businesses in Wales is supported by among other things, the Promise/Addo campaign: https://www.visitwales.com/promise .
I am not yet aware of the details of any Autumn, October half term or Winter promotion plans. Given Visit Wales’ well-established track record on UK domestic promotion, I would be very surprised if there were none, or none to follow soon. Notwithstanding of course any restrictions or delays that may be imposed by the Welsh Government’s slightly different approach and timetable to reopening of Welsh businesses and the Welsh economy to that applied within England. I’d welcome any update on marketing plans and campaigns from colleagues in Wales and /or Visit Wales as the situation develops.
General opportunities. From a forward planning perspective the next major domestic tourism event or opportunity is the October half term, traditionally a holiday period which is as, if not more, popular with domestic outbound international travel than it is with domestic holidaying. However, these are far from normal times.
The bulk of education authorities in England and Wales appear to have selected Monday 25th to Friday 30th October with those in Scotland opting for one or other of the two preceding weeks. Add to this the vagaries of variations allowed for English academies and in the private schools sector and you have a main window, that still falls within the last two weeks of October, with the peak for most being from Saturday 23rd October through to Sunday 1 November, inclusive. Do please check your own local and main source market areas dates, don’t rely on my rough and ready national assessment!
There is sill a number of obvious uncertainties involved in this year’s October holiday, varying from: the prevailing domestic and domestic outbound market conditions, through potential unknowns in the education sector, to the UK’s covid-19 status at that time. Nonetheless, I would like to start to get a better feel from a wider group of colleagues about how they are viewing the October half term from the perspective of differing markets, different business sectors and differing businesses types (day v staying, short break v longer holiday, self-catering v serviced etc.). The aim is to identify what the key threats and opportunities may be and how best, if at all, you feel these might be minimised or exploited to greatest benefit by centrally coordinated actions, whatever you think the could or should be.
It may be a little too early to be making hard and fast decisions about late October but equally it will soon be far too late to start formulating and pushing for the delivery of effective coordinated action or activities, particularly if these are around shared marketing approaches, national marketing messages or some similar communication piece. Your views on the threats and, in particular, opportunities and the best means of fulfilling them, would be welcomed.
Four quick points: 1. impact on holiday taking and making in and from English coronavirus restricted areas, 2. the apparent direction of travel for Westminster policy, 3. the latest research articles and 4. Airbnb a change of heart (?) and other similar fleeting windows of lobbying opportunity:
1. Late of Friday 7 the Westminster Government issued new/revised guidance for holidaying within and from coronavirus restricted areas in England. Destination mangers and tourism businesses (within England) should be aware of the content both from the point of view of hosting visitors from restricted areas and from the prospective of either being or potentially becoming a restricted area at some future date (forewarned is forearmed). The guidance strikes me as being neither particularly detailed or overly prescriptive. Critically from a business point of view, it includes reference to best practice on holiday postponement and/or refund policies, due directly to the application of these restrictions. The implications for other Home Nations and, in particular, from a hosting prospective are as yet unclear (to me at least). If anyone has a better understanding please share it with me: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-on-holidays-in-areas-with-local-coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions
2. The mood music from Westminster last week suggests increasing concerns regarding social interaction as a/the major contributor to increased infection levels, albeit, mainly from social interaction at a more local/resident level rather than specifically from within destinations and domestic holiday activity. The high incidence of infection among the under 30s in Preston is also a notable, marker from late last week. High level comment on the prioritisation of the opening of schools and the maintenance of education over pubs, although an overly simplistic indicator, should be taken as very clear sign of where priority for the Westminster Government now lies: education, followed by the restoration of general commerce and getting England/UK back to work and then leisure and social interactions. If nothing else it was a clear warning shot to the public and to the industry to take the current rules on social interaction seriously or risk having them taken away entirely. It is assumption, but for pub I would read, if needs be, also all non-essential leisure and tourism activities?
Despite continuing lobbying efforts for additional support over the lean winter months for the tourism and leisure sectors I am inclined to think that generous initiative like Eat out to Help, during August, VAT reductions through to the beginning of January 2021 and the furlough retention grant of £1k per person retained into 2021, may now represent the full extent of the support we can reasonably expect? That doesn’t negate the need to keep pushing for other initiatives, principally designed to retain staff and keep businesses afloat and in a fit state, long enough to start recovery proper during the 2021 main season.
3. I have added more research to the Covid-19 research page on Britishdestinations.net. This includes an interesting piece from the Tourism Alliance which aims to quantify the scale of potential redundancies within Tourism. It may be useful in supporting the case for more targeted support for the industry over the shoulder and off peaks months to come: https://britishdestinations.net/c19-research/
4. In a Sunday Times Magazine Article this weekend the Airbnb founder outlined the “mistakes” he felt the company had made and apparently promised to take a new approach to how Airbnb works in future with hosts, local and National authorities and destination “marketing” bodies. Some in the industry remain, understandably, sceptical about the promises of reform and, in particular, the suggestion of new more socially minded approach to how the business model functions in different countries. Taken at face value the comments still represent one of a number of covid-19 created opportunities to forge ahead with strategic, tactical, structural and operational change in the UK tourism industry. Others include: gaining a better understanding of the true value and function of domestic tourism, recognition of the symbiotic relationship between apparently very different sectors and individual tourism businesses in the visitor economy (especially within recognisable destinations), greater support for the often unsung roles and functions of destination management (and within that destination marketing), the importance of the roles and functions of local government, within effective destination management and the need in England at least for a stronger National domestic, development, strategy and policy function, linked to a more inclusive network of local destination management and marketing organisations.
The key now is not to let these lessons learnt or, more accurately, the known lessons highlighted, slip by again for want of us all focusing solely on the immediately more pressing needs of stabilisation and recovery.
The Sunday Times magazine article is on subscriber access only. One of a number of useful summaries picked up by other media providers can be found at: https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2020/0809/1158208-airbnb/
The original article which can be accessed in full on a free trial basis is at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/past-six-days/2020-08-09/the-sunday-times-magazine/air-bnb-brian-chesky-interview-coronavirus-8smq3f0r6