More on tourism insights, research and seminars
1. During the latter part of 2022, we highlighted attitudinal research, most notably from BVA BRDC, indicating that domestic tourism and the associated wider visitor economy faced a double whammy from the consumer spending crisis, that reached into and potentially throughout much of the 2023 main season and beyond (see annual conference presentation for more detail). The double hit coming from reduced discretionary spend, in general, on one hand and, on the other, a strong expression of intent to protect the no longer discretionary main (often overseas) holiday by reducing other routine discretionary leisure, hospitality and second holidays and short breaks spending; all of which form the bread-and-butter business for much of the UK’s visitor economy.
Anecdotal evidence, principally reporting from outbound operators during the traditional peak of their forward, main season bookings in late December and early January, also indicated a return to, or towards pre pandemic sales levels. Initial caution (hope perhaps?) that some of that early reporting might be of the self-fulling promotional type, seems to be misplaced, as subsequent comment confirmed that bookings have indeed been very strong. Albeit that some of it has been of the back of very attractive terms, including zero deposit offers. If financial pressures continue as seems likely, at least into the main summer holiday period, that generosity could conceivably result in higher level of default or cancellation? Meanwhile, there is no substantive evidence that generous terms are being exploited for speculative or multiple, pick and mix bookings; a growing, and very unwelcome new (?) trend that has been seen in parts of the post pandemic domestic market.
Last week Nationwide published it January 2023 consumer spending report based on 250m plus actual credit card transactions and a more detailed survey of c 2000 customers. This report represents the first hard evidence of actual volumes and values that we are aware of. It is also about as oven fresh as you will get in terms of statistics in general, and for tourism related statistics in particular.
The reports figures and most of the consumer survey narrative, supports the premise that spending of holidays, much of presumably because of the period forward bookings (?), has indeed increased and that in parallel areas like eating and drinking out and leisure have declined, along with retail itself often a key driver for visits. It isn’t as clear cut as one might wish, since the yearly comparative spend isn’t adjusted for any inflation (the essence of the current financial crisis) and category “holidays” for example don’t differentiate between domestic and domestic outbound, although air travel (when not bought as part of a holiday package) is recoded separately. For me the number of transactions (last three columns) rather the total amount spent is as a far more stable comparative indicator than the total spend figures. While the figure may require some more thought and interpretation, the text consumer survey comments do not. They are fairly clear cut, even if based on a relatively small sample.
See the report at: https://www.nationwidemediacentre.co.uk/news/costa-living-brits-seek-holiday-respite-as-year-on-year-spending-rises-due-to-spiking-energy-and-food-costs
2. A coalition of coastal interest groups lead by the Coastal Communities Alliance, of which we are members, has commissioned and published a report by Pragmatix Advisory. The documents, “Communities on the edge”, makes the case for finer grain metrics, greater inclusion and better funding for coastal communities within the Westminster Government’s levelling up programme for England.
None of the issues raised will come as any surprise to those working in coastal destinations. However, the report adds to the growing body of work on coastal socio-economic and coastal tourism issues and critically updates the case and gives current data to evidence the common problems experience in all those communities physically on the edge of the nation and therefore often on the social and economic periphery too.
The report is worth scanning even if you are not a coastal or English coastal destination. The specific section on tourism can be found and read at page 102 to 111, although, as those in coastal destinations will recognise, all other social and economic consideration are inextricably entwinned and should be taken into consideration as part of the tourism mix. The report has been added to the British Destinations rolling “Research and statistic – by year” as a separate item under the adjacent + tab and under the themed coastal reports section for later reference. Or find it now as the first bold item at:
3. The Tourism Alliance is holding a Tourism Insights Conference on Thursday 23 March 0930 to 1400 (including lunch), to coincide with this year’s Industry Parliamentary Reception 1500 to 1700, to which all delegates are invited. The members rate (including for all British Destinations members) is £160 plus VAT. Please note this is not the Joint Tourism Alliance, Tourism Society, British Destinations Annual Conference which is due to be held later in the year details to follow.
There is an excellent array of sessions and speakers all giving insight and examining prospects for tourism in the coming year and beyond. More detail and booking links at:
Buy tickets – Tourism Insights Conference and Parliamentary Reception – Royal Over-Seas League, Thu 23 Mar 2023 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM (tickettailor.com)