Looking forward to Summer 2021(?)

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The first bank holiday of 2021 with at least some hospitality and associated businesses open, proved to be bit of a mixed bag, not least because of poor weather towards the end of the long weekend and the unavoidable focus on outdoor activities and hospitality. Business forecasts for the a domestic staycation summer remain positive, however, there is still a degree of potential for confusion around the age old dilemma of balancing necessarily positive public marketing messaging and the business and practical realities. How much of the forecasted business is actually booked and secured and how much of it hoped for and potentially still at risk to outside influence?

Today there has been a great deal of speculation around the opening up of near European and some other international destinations to UK domestic outbound leisure travel prompted by comments and statements from Westminster and EU Governments. Again, it is always difficult to judge to what degree that will transcribe itself into a relative trickle or a masses exodus. Practicalities and timings suggest the chances of a return to anything near pre convid-19 outbound international travel during the main summer school holiday period are at best remote. Late 2021 overseas holidays, for those in a position to travel in school term, are perhaps a different proposition, as are prospects for 2022 and beyond.

The levels of vaccination rollout in the host countries and the presumption that increased levels of UK infections and/or the transmission of new variants will not be adversely impacted by domestic overseas leisure travel are perhaps key to if, when and at what rate outbound international travel will recover and the first and subsequent order impacts that will invariably have on the still struggling domestic tourism industry. Ultimately it will take several years of bumper main summer seasons at home (or abroad for the outbound operators) to compensate and paydown accumulated debt arising from lost business from March 2020 and, lest we forget, in many cases, still ongoing.

Last week’s comments from the CEO of Whitbread which were largely picked up in business pages, where particularly revelling. Given the ubiquitous nature of their accommodation and hospitality products, its popularity across mid-range business and leisure markets and the sheer scale of this publicly listed company, I am inclined to look to their comments as an accurate and honest, bellwether for much of the popular domestic industry (Whitbread can hardly risk overstating their market performance for marketing purposes): https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56898843

Last week saw the deadline for the DCMS DMO review submissions. This isn’t the end of the process and we can now look forward to the review team publishing its findings and consulting further in we understand a series of regional meetings. The timeframe is likely to be very short with next steps in late June early July. Colleagues are urged to continue to actively engage in the process and be ready to react to short-notice opportunities during what is going to be an increasingly busy period for all destination managers. The submissions were important, the findings, whatever they may be, absolutely critical to the way destination management develops within England over the coming decade. Unfortunately, it isn’t a simple issue and on balance the opportunities to get wrong are probably greater than the opportunities to get it perfectly right for every destinations of any significance in England. For those who are interested our submission and that of the Tourism Alliance can be accessed at: https://britishdestinations.net/consultation-responses/open-consultations/independent-review-of-destination-management-organisations-dmos-consultation-closes-28-april-21/

Any additional local intelligence on current and future predicted performance that you may have from your own destinations would be most welcome. It not only help us better understand the emerging situation but also allows us to communicate that to other key trade partners and to National Tourist Boards and National Government across the UK.

One thought on “Looking forward to Summer 2021(?)

    Kevin Boorman said:
    May 10, 2021 at 7:21 pm

    Belated thanks, Peter, and apologies if you’ve heard the following before.

    Our indoor hospitality and attractions are reopening here from 17trh May, as per everywhere else I suspect.

    We are also looking at running a near normal events programme from the end of July (to give some certainty/room for slippage after the 21st June date). We have also bumped some of our earlier events until later in the year, meaning we have a very busy programme indeed from 31st July, with large events almost every weekend until the end of September, with some going into October.

    We are expecting significant numbers of domestic staying visitors, and some of our accommodation (but not all) is now fully booked for the whole summer. 2021 is shaping up to be very good indeed, but I have two related major concerns looking forward, both around the international business.

    Our language student market, attracting c35 000 language students a year in normal times and worth c£35m pa to the town, has completely collapsed, and we’re starting to hear bad things about 2022. This impacts not just on attractions, shops and cafes, but also on the host families.

    Inbound international tourism is worth around 20% by value of our visitor economy, again in normal times. This year, as in 2020, we expect this to be replaced by domestic staycationers; we certainly noticed a quite different demographic in the summer peak 2020, many more younger couples and families staying here, in numbers not seen for perhaps 40 years. But if they go abroad again once out bound international travel resumes and is seen to be safe and not too much hassle, we need the inbound international visitors back. There is a real concern that they won’t come back, certainly not in the numbers previously seen, and Brexit hasn’t helped in that respect. In the medium to longer term that could cause us major issues.

    All the best,

    Kevin Kevin Boorman Marketing & Major Projects Manager Hastings Borough Council Tel :- Hastings (01424) 451123 http://www.hastings.gov.uk

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