Quick update and one to watch out for

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1. Firstly the one to what out for:

As an organisation we have become increasingly concerned about alleged price gouging in certain areas of the domestic market and, specifically, the likely reputational damage that this will have done to UK domestic tourism as a whole now and, with the certain return to far greater outbound competition for the UK domestic holiday pound, the damage and the lost opportunity costs it could have in or for future years. The primary area of concern lies around hard to justify/ unjustifiably high price increases in the self-catering accommodation market and involves both traditional and new sharing economy providers and their routes to market (OTA and sharing platforms).

We believe that increases in some cases of a third or more on 2019 late summer 2020 prices can’t be justified and that cumulatively these increases will only serve to reinforce the previously erroneous view among those not used to holidaying in the UK that it is an overly expensive destination, whist at the same time, serving to alienate, or even disenfranchise, many a previously loyal supporter of the UK domestic industry.

In current circumstances some prices increases can of course be justified to recoup previously lost income or, in particular, to offset increased supply, services and staffing costs. Given the nature of self-catering this where it become a more obvious target for questions about ethics behind the decision making and, particularly, about the some of the apparent levels of increase imposed.

Unfortunately we are now not the only ones concerned about the perceived problem. Tonight (Monday 7pm) BBC’s Panorama are airing a programme on the subject. We are not fully aware of the content but from comments from colleagues asked to participate and from snippets of promotional material we have seen published it is unlikely to be gratifying for either those sub-sectors featured or, by inference, for the domestic industry as a whole. Moreover, is highly likely that the programme will prompt a wave of interest from other local, regional and national media providers and the public in general, hence, the perceived need to alerting you to the programme in advance of its broadcast and with only the vaguest of notion of its detailed content. Forewarned hopefully is forearmed.

2. I have added the VisitEngland’s Visitor Attractions Trends in 2020 report published last week to the Research and Statistics -by year page of BritishDestinations.net. Although the period covered is 2020 and therefore heavily impacted by Covid-19 I have reverted to including it in the main research library, not the specific c-19 research section. It is well worth a read in full but headline comments, most if not all of which are relevant to the wider UK attraction’s market, can be found at pages 10 to 15: https://britishdestinations.net/research-and-statistics/

In a previous update I mentioned changes to the methodology for Great British Tourism Statistics (GBTS) and the fact that comparability, thankfully would be maintained by reissuing the previous 10 year’s of data recalculated using the new methodology . I did so to alert those who use local data largely generated from Regional and above level GBTS that there may be a potential problem with comparability for their local data arising?

I also mused about whether changed EU derived requirements for UK tourism data might have a negative impact on the maintenance of vital international (IPS) and domestic GBTS and day visits and other national or nation specific research. In doing so I erroneously suggested that GBTS and some of the other critical national data was the product of ONS (ONS produce the International Passenger Survey). GBTS and GB Day visitor survey are the joint products of the three British tourist boards and are paid for by them, as are individual nation reports like the English Attractions survey above.

My careless error in attributing the production of these reports to ONS does not change the fact that these high level reports are essential tools for much of the industry; often underpinning or playing a vital role in deriving below regional, local level estimates (dependent on what commercial models are used). It doesn’t really matter which Government agency provides them; what matters is that the importance of the data is recognised during this period or radical upheaval and that those bodies and agencies providing them are adequately resourced by Government to allow them to keep providing them. With the Comprehensive spending review looming this all the more important and I would suggest time sensitive.

3. Coastal members in England and Wales may wish to note that the Environment Agency has issued a short consolation letter outlining how it intends to address the lack of bathing water samples taken last year. Last years results are an issue because the standard achieved are now based on a four year rolling average and a 2020 results or lack of them therefore influences results in the following three years not simply in the following year as was once the case.

This is very much a practical issue directed towards bathing water controllers but it may have positive or negative marketing or other implications for beaches that are typically borderline poor or dipping in and out of excellent . If it is of any interest to you please see the UK Beach Management Forum (a subset of British Destination and run by us) update at:

https://ukbeachmanagementforum.wordpress.com/latest-news-and-posts-from-ukbmf/

4. I will be confirming details of our joint one day Tourism Conference and Westminster Parliamentary event, hopefully by the end of this week. Meanwhile save the date Monday of 15 November.

We are also eagerly anticipating the publication, hopefully this month but possibly later, of the English DMO review, one of the proposed key topics for the conference. Depending on the final recommendations and of course the all important acceptance by Ministers, this publication and more accurately implementation could be critical moment for destination management in England and, over time by association, destination management elsewhere. Or it could of course herald a variation on business as usual for some or all English destination managers, albeit in far from usual times. Everything now hinges on what the review proposes and how any new or redirected resource made available to enable change is then deployed, to whom and for what purposes.

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