Annual Conference 2021 report

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A brief report on the joint Tourism Alliance, Tourism Society and British Destinations’ conference held on 15 Nov 21, including the full slide pack, can be accessed from the conference menu tab of Britishdestinations.net or go direct to the page at: https://britishdestinations.net/annual-conference-19-march-2018/annual-conference-report-15-nov-2021/

The event was very well attended and as ever with the tripartite membership there was a very wide range of tourism interests represented, this is undoubtedly the USP and the major strength of event, which facilitates a genuine cross fertilisation of ideas. I am most grateful to Quality in Tourism our sponsors for their support which allowed us to undertake the conference and attract such a high-profile group of speakers.

Disappointingly for destinations representatives in attendance, neither Nick De Bois the author of the English DMO review or the Tourism Minister were in a position brief on the final outcome of the review. Nick confirmed in his morning session that his review recommended c£17m PA to support a hub and spoke approach over the 3 years of the current CSR (and beyond). Both the hubs or tier 1 and the spokes, tier 2 would in Nick’s view need to be accredited by VisitEngland in order to access support. DCMS may not have sought the full £51m recommended from Treasury and, whatever sum was sought by them, we now know none was specifically made available.

If DCMS are to support the DMO review implementation financial, that will have to come from within core DCMS funding or from a reallocation of some of the additional monies made available specifically to other DCMS areas (presumably with further Treasury agreement?). In his session later in the day the Minister acknowledge the importance of the review and enthusiasm of many to see it implemented but in the circumstances was unable to give more detail on the direction of travel, until the internal CSR deliberations are completed. Between the two presentations there was a clear message that there was both a need and a narrowing opportunity to lobby for funding from within DCMS to allow the review to be implemented. The Minister made an interesting aside about finance, along the lines of there is never any harm in asking for more but we should avoid giving the impression we are not grateful for that we have already received.

At the fringes there were two critical questions aired which could be summarised as: is there a minimum level of funding which might do more harm to the whole DMO network than the undoubted good to those few who might receive it? What should the destination management and destination marketing community do individually, or jointly, should the review fail to attract any funding or too little to allow it to make a genuine difference nationally? Or what might be achieved without specific funding from within the review’s recommendation?

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