New industry recovery report and more on the cost of living crisis.

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I have added the latest, now quarterly, BVA BDRC ClearSights on recovery report for May 2022 to our C-19 research library on Britishdestinations.net (c-19 research).

The executive summary, page 3 of this short report paints a generally optimistic picture, particularly for the domestic market, although it comes with an elephant in the room caveat in its introduction: Just as the sunlit uplands appeared to be emerging on the horizon, a period of geopolitical and economic uncertainty, with an accompanying cost-of-living crisis for consumers brings yet another major external challenge for many of our clients and subscribers.

I know from discussion with some but as yet not all colleagues in popular destinations, May has been a disappointment for many businesses, after a good but on occasions difficult, extended Easter, end of school term holiday period. Although titled the May edition, the ClearSights reports are by necessity based on a now monthly surveys conducted in the first week of each month within the quarter covered. As I read it the May report is tracking consumer sentiment (effectively in arrears?) in the first weeks of March April and May. I.e., primarily February to the end of April.

Although the impending cost-of-living crisis was obviously on the cards for months (we were first discussing it in early March: Where are the winds blowing?) I don’t think it unreasonable to suggest that the true nature and scale has only really become apparent to the general public and therefore to actually start to bite on the all-important disposable income and discretionary leisure spending in the last 4 to 6 weeks, or at best say from early to mid-April onwards? Early indications from across a range of discretionary sectors, and not simply tourism and leisure, are that it has bitten unusually fast, hard and deep and that there is good cause to assume it won’t release its damaging grip anytime soon.

Meanwhile, in the world of tourism it is all too easy, having experience the unprecedented crisis of 2020 – 2021, to regard the latest problems for tourism, leisure and the visitor economy as simply an ongoing extension of that earlier crisis. Whilst the effects may seem to be much the same, we need to be very clear about the differences in the causes and develop a clear understanding of what they and their impacts are, for whom in what circumstances. Without that clarity we, and critically Government(s), aren’t going to be able resolve or at least try to help mitigate what could be a new crisis of potentially not dissimilar proportions to that from which we are only just jointly starting to recover.

To suggest that, for the tourism industry, it could be as bad as Covid-19 in its totality, is probably to grossly overstating the case but to suggest that it is as nationally/internationally significant as any of the various, distinct phases of the Covid-19 crisis and is equally worthy of being tackled as a new and separate major challenge for our sectors is, I think, entirely reasonable. If nothing else it might help reset the apparent over simplistic rebuff that “tourism” has somehow already had more than its share of support during “the crisis”. As ever, I would welcome thoughts from members and non-member interests, to help develop our rational and thinking on how we jointly and separately tackle a most unwelcome and poorly timed set of new developments. In particular, how we now persuade HMG and the devolved Government’s to intervene at those vital turning points where only they have the true power to effectively influence future direction.

Jon Young of BVA BDRC one of the key authors of the ClearSight on Recovery reports will be joining us at the joint annual Tourism Alliance, Tourism Society and British Destinations Conference on 22 June 2022. His session will directly address issues around the cost-of-living crisis and give us all the opportunity to assess where, from an consumer informed prospective, the economic winds might be blowing us. More detail on excellent range of speakers and sessions, including, England DMO review, statutory registration and much more, together with booking links can be found at: https://britishdestinations.net/annual-conference-19-march-2018/

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