Month: September 2021

Statutory registration of accommodation businesses

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While we are still awaiting detail of the long-promised consultation in England of statutory registration, Visit Wales announced today the Welsh Government’s consultation on statutory registration or licencing. In the Visit Wales case the consultation appears to a more targeted affair conducted by consultants interviewing identified stakeholder groups rather than an open public consultation(?). As every when it comes to activities of this significance, I maintain that colleagues in the different home nations should at least be aware of what’s going on over borders that, for the visitor at least, can often be meaningless, and that there are always transferable lessons to be learnt. The outline can be seen at: News Bulletin: Establishing a statutory registration or licensing scheme for holiday accommodation operators in Wales (govdelivery.com)

In this case I am slightly puzzled by the reference in the Visit Wales text to “amateur accommodation operators”. I may be entirely wrong but in 30 years of working in the industry I can only recall ever hearing that term used twice: once today and once in the rather grandly titled Airbnb short-term lets registration “white paper” quietly published in June of this year.

Again I may be off track but I am extremely dubious about us all inadvertently accepting, without question, that an amateur status does, should or could be accepted in the provision of paid for accommodation, unless it is an already firmly establish principle that I am just unaware of? For example, I am reasonably reasonable sure that we wouldn’t readily accept the creation of a category of say: amateur taxi driver or amateur publican on the basis that these “amateurs”, however defined, don’t trade with the general public that often or on that large a scale and therefore it is a bit too much of a faff applying the legislative and regulatory controls deemed necessary for, “professionals”, in the rest of the regulated industry. To me this seems like a very slippery slope towards woolly definitions and more, albeit different, opportunities for abuse and confusion at the fringes. If you trade in a regulated area, then surely you should be regulated whether you then chose to trade a little or a lot? Ultimately that your choice and your customers are no more or no less entitled to the same level of regulatory protection as anyone else’s in what is for the customer at least exactly the same circumstances.

Whether you are responding to the consultation in Wales or waiting for the consultation in England it might be a good time to acquaint yourselves with light touch proposal already put forward by Airbnb for short-term let sector and by default potential for all other accommodation providers. Airbnb have a reasonably well-established reputation for resisting regulatory control for as long as possible and when it looks like it is all but inevitable using their not insubstantial recourses to try an minimise the impact. This may not be the case this time, however, whilst all very plausible the “white paper” does appear to propose a very light touch approach that reinforces the principle that whatever happen the liabilities don’t lie with the platform provider. Again, I may be wrong but by publishing the white paper well in advance of the consultation and framing it in the way that they have that there is already a danger there proposals becoming the default starting point for an “industry lead” solution. Whether I am right or not about this, I do think that colleagues should at least read it and drawing their own conclusions before they look to respond to any formal government consultations, now or in future months. You can find the Airbnb paper listed under the Britishdestinations.net research & statistics – by year, menu tab or go direct to the page at: https://britishdestinations.net/1194-2/content/airbnb-short-term-lets-registration-white-paper-2021/

I would welcome thoughts and direction from members for use in a response to either or both consolations.

Annual Conference 15 November 2021

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I’m pleased to announce that the rescheduled, joint British Destinations, Tourism Alliance and Tourism Society 2021 Tourism Conference will be held at the Royal Over Seas League, London SW1A 1LR, on Monday 15th November, 9.30 am for 10 am to 3pm followed at 4pm to 6 pm by a Parliamentary Reception in the Member’s Dining Room in the House of Commons.

The conference theme is rebuilding the UK tourism industry. Nigel Huddleston the Westminster, Minister for Tourism will give the keynote speech on tourism recovery plans. Nick de Bois Chairman VisitEngland will outline his recommendations on the English DMO review and discus its implications and implementation. Other highlights include: new research on the benefits of retaining reduced VAT on tourism services, work by the National Trust on climate and the need for responses from the UK tourism industry and more.

This is a major opportunity for tourism professionals and a wide range representatives from the industry to reengage with each other, to meet face to face and discuss key issues, formally and informally, and to demonstrate the importance of tourism at the heart of the Westminster Government. Please support the event and by doing so directly support your own industry as it starts the long climb to full recovery from what has now been the longest and deepest crisis that domestic and international tourism has experienced in the last 75 years.

The cost for members is £95 plus VAT. More detail regarding the events, including the booking link, can be accessed on Britishdestinations.net under the conference 2021 menu tab, or go to the page direct here.

British Destinations’ conference sponsor:

QT Logo CMYK (002)

 www.qualityintourism.com 

Review of Destination Organisations in England

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This morning DCMS published the independent review of destination organisations in England conducted by Nick de Bois. It is a robust report that makes 12 recommendations, some aimed at Central Government, some at destination organisations and some at Local Government and LEPS.

At this early stage I can’t recommendation any easy short cuts to digesting this 80 odd page report. The forward and recommendations are a must but not to read the report in full, or only to scan it would be to miss some hugely important points and could easily lead to misinterpretation about the intent and what the summary recommendations actually means or critically the rational behind them.

If the report is accepted by DCMS Minister and goes forward (or has already gone forward?) for funding under the DCMS comprehensive spending review submission there are several hurdles yet to overcome, most notably Treasury acceptance and funding. Thereafter the devil will be in the detailed implementation which will require active and enthusiastic engagement from all English destination organisations of all types and sizes and if my understanding is correct, a good deal of cooperation and compromises from all parties involved and resigned acceptance from those few inevitably excluded.

The DCMS report can be found under the National Strategies and Policies + tab of British Destinations.net or go direct to the page at: https://britishdestinations.net/strategies-and-policies/tourism-industry-strategies-policies/review-of-destination-organisations-in-england/

Industry led business survey on impacts of VAT reduction closing 17 Sep 21.

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As part of their VAT lobbying work, Tourism Alliance, of which we are members, are working with UKHospitality, BBPA, ALVA and BII on a new survey to determine the impact of the current VAT cut to tourism and hospitality business, and what a future VAT increase would mean to the sector.

If you feel it appropriate and practical, can you please consider circulating this to your destination’s accommodation, food or attraction businesses that are currently benefitting from the reduced VAT Rate. The deadline for submission of Friday 17th September is now tight.

https://eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_81UeZkEiSRNInps

The survey will take less than 5 minutes to complete and all responses will be treated as confidential and no individual level data will be shared.

Event industry further update

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Having pondered the meaning of the DCMS announcement on their Live Events Reinsurance Scheme earlier today and then distributing my understanding of it I stumbled on a short narrative description from what I would classify as a grade A source. The Chancellors letter to the Chair of the Treasurer Select Committee gives a much clearer picture of the intent, including confirmation of the proposed stat date of 30 September this year, without the necessary complication of legal T&C etc. given in the DCMS announcement. The letter can be accessed at: https://britishdestinations.net/599-2/content/live-event-reinsurance-scheme-6-sept-2021/

Events industry update

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Two potentially important developments:

1. BVEP (British Visitor and Events Partnership) have just published an excellent report entitled Supporting Sustainable Growth for the UK Events Industry. Although much of it prompted by the impacts of the pandemic, I have chosen to added it to the association’s main research and reports library and not the c-19 specific section as it is more general and longer term relevance as we move into recover and toward a new normality. No suggested short-cuts on this occasion; if the subject is of interest as it should be then you will need to scan if not read the meat of the report found in two dozen of the 27 pages: https://wordpress.com/page/britishdestinations.net/18095

2. Yesterday the Westminster Government announced the substance of a DCMS administered UK wide Live Event reinsurance scheme which will run from, as I read it a launch date, yet to be finalised, until 30 September 2022 and, thus, covering much of the main 2022 season.

In outline it will be a three-tiered (by value) scheme for all manner of public (i.e. not for example for weddings etc.) events reinsurance. HMG will collect premium payments from participating insurers whose schemes meets the criteria and the detailed terms of the scheme and indemnify them for losses resulting from cancellation, abandonment, relocation and postponement resulting from (covid-19 related) UK Civil Authority restrictions. The insurance must be taken out in addition to appropriate, standard event cancellation (not necessarily with the same insurer?) at a premium set at 5% of the total sum insured. A 5% or £1k (whichever is the greater) excess will apply. Insurance must be taken out at least 8 weeks prior to commencement but there will be a 12-week window where this does not apply from the start of the scheme.

Not surprisingly the detail is complex and presented at times in impenetrable insurance industry/legal/regulatory terms. Much more will doubtless become clearer in the coming weeks and months as the insurance industry and DCMS develop the scheme and start promoting the new product alongside their standard even products to prospective event organisers. Regardless of the detail to follow, this has to be regarded as good news for events, conference entertainment (plus, plus?) public, private and third sectors providers, hosts and facilitators. Hopefully this has removed or at least gone someway to alleviate the unacceptable and, until now, largely uninsurable risks associated with covid-19 impacting upon a wide range of public “events”.

The initial details (not an easy read and as likely as not to prompt as many questions as it answers, especially among casual, non-insurance industry readers like me) can be accessed at: Outline of scheme rules (HTML version) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

3. It may be prudent to add any immediate issues or questions emerging from the DCMS announcement to the agenda for our next “destination managers” meeting 1400hrs 22 September 2021? If members or indeed any appropriate guests, have not had an email invitation to attend that meeting please contact me so I can rectify the omission or consider any request to participate as a non-member guest.

Insurance issues can you assist a colleague?

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Southport is facing a potential issue regarding new insurance requirements on a major public asset. Can you or anyone in your team help with a bit of basic background information or have you local contacts for those who might be able to help clarify the situation for either the public or private sector in your destination. It is specifically a coastal asset but experience on other major publicly accessible assets of any type anywhere may still be of help: https://britishdestinations.net/need-an-answer/insurance-issues/