Business Improvement Districts & Tourism

1. Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).  In England BIDs were traditionally set up in relatively small, well-defined retail areas or in business parks with the monies raised by the business levy spent on additional services; typically these are the nice to have, common good services like: extra street cleaning, street wardens, security radio networks, CTV and so on that can’t always be provided by the local authority or by individual businesses working alone. The legislation makes it clear that the services must be additional i.e. they must not substitute for statutory service.

This has always left some room for manoeuvre as many services that are popularly assumed to be statutory are not and others that are will often already be fulfilled well beyond minimum statutory standard bring into question just where the threshold for additionality begins. Latterly under the onslaught of local public spend cuts harsh reality has further eroded the principle and we increasingly see most of the proposed and subsequently successful BIDs built on a platform of maintaining or replace lost, as well as building on service previously provided locally by Councils or via Council funded public private sector partnership arrangements.

The idea of extending the BID model to provide funding to include some or all elements of tourism/visitor economy support is itself relatively new in the UK ( 2010/11) and, initially at least, the idea in England focused on larger Cities,  many of which are administered by more than one local authority.  The concept necessitated a change to the existing English legislation, which then required the BIDs vote to be coordinated and the levy collected by one local authority acting within its own local administrative boundary.  These larger area proposals were called Tourism BIDs (TBIDs) and that acronym has, by default, become associated, at least at the national level within the Westminster Government, with this type of large cross boundary BID; a type of BID that typically is looking towards hotels as the main or sole levy payers, with the principal aim of  supporting the core business and convention markets found in many large Cities.

In 2013 the existing English legislation was changed to allow multiple authority area based BIDs to go ahead, (changed in 2006/07 in Scotland) but as at June 2016 no TBID has yet been put to the vote in England, allegedly due in large part to the resistance from major hotel operators who would foot the bulk of the levy and who can also see themselves being asked to do the same in a series of other major Cities in which they also operate, should the principle become established. We understand that Bristol, a key player in the original TBID proposal is now looking to establishing a “super BID” across the City, in the near future, a City which in common with most others has several traditional retail BIDs already in place.

In Scotland that cross border flexibility was granted in 2006 and 2007 and other significant variations have been made to encourage wider area and sector specific, as well as more traditional BIDs.  For information on Tourism & Visitor BIDs (TBIDs) in Scotland see:

2. Destination BIDs.  Meanwhile  in England a number of established tourism destinations have developed local BID based solutions to meet local destination management needs.  In 2012 using the existing BIDs legislation Bournemouth created two BIDs areas, one retail based in the Town Centre and one focusing on the surrounding tourism area or The Coastal BID as it has been called. The two BIDs have separate managers, separate aims and delivery plans and operate as separate BID companies, albeit operating from the same building and working very closely together.  This innovative approach essentially proved the concept of a much wider destination  based BID; a concept which Bournemouth at the time couldn’t be certain would work, hence them hedging their bets by split the BIDs and, thus, significantly increasing the chances  that at least one part, if not both would be approved by the wide range of voting businesses involved. The Bournemouth Coastal BID business plan can be viewed at:  Coastal Business Plan PDF, other detail can be found in their Coastal BID website here. The Bournemouth Town Centre BID business plan can be viewed at: Town Centre Business Plan Pdf, other detail can be found in their Town Centre BID website  here . Although there was some thought initially that when the BID fell due for renewal in 2017 a combined company single BID approach would be adopted this proved not to be the case.  The two original BIDs were both re-approved for a further 5 years on 2 June 2017. The new 2017/22 Town Centre Business plan is available here and the 2017/22 Coastal Bussiness Plan can be accessed via the page here.

Other destinations have now emulated the Bournemouth’s successful attempt to create a destination BID or DBID as we are now calling them, in order to differentiate them from the TBID concept.  All, with the confidence gained, have been able to abandoned the more cautious Bournemouth approach, putting forward a single BID proposal covering the wider destination, or at least the recognised visitor area within it.  Some of these subsequent DBIDs have been complicated by the existence of existing retail BIDs but like Bournemouth others have had the advantage of starting from a completely clean BID slate.

All of these proposals have been taken forward under the existing/old single administrative area BID legislation.  None have yet involve the potential complication of trying to conduct even marginal compulsory cross boundary working, although several do involve the voluntary participation of certain businesses from neighbouring areas as the legislation allows.

As yet there have been no successful attempt to apply the new DBID principles to a larger rural destination in England (a Peak or a Lake District for example), nor has the idea been applied across an area containing a number of recognised urban destinations (say a Devon, Cornwall or a North Yorkshire) although  several larger rural and mixed resort area have already wrestled with the complexity of producing a workable DBID proposal, whilst options are still being considered by several others.  Despite the obvious difficulties we do believe that there is scope for such wider area DBIDs and we would welcome any attempt to prove the concept, or effectively doing much the same as Bournemouth did for the original DBIDs. In Scotland there is one area based BID the Visit Inverness and Loch Ness TBID (more detail below).

Meanwhile, DBIDs are being considered or actively pursed in a considerable number of mainly urban destinations.  Of these one of the most well-deserved success was that of English Riviera Tourism BID.  This BID is subtly different again.  In November 2015 the original DBID , the Torbay Retail and Tourism BID was rejected by a narrow margin, largely by the retail element, many of whom were apparently already dissatisfied with their experience of one or other of the three separate, existing retail BIDs in Torbay, Paignton and Brixham. Justifiably disappointed by the result and spurred on by the tourism industry a new tourism business focus BID was established in relatively short order and approved on 1 July 2016. This was then subsequently called in on appeal, an appeal was that was finally rejected on 19 December 2016.  The new BID company then came into being from 1 January 2017. Their business plan can be accessed at: ERT BID-Business-Plan

One of the most recent and potentially most interesting DBID proposal to go to a successful vote in mid July 2016 was the Isle of Wight .   This is the first mixed tourism area BID in England, albeit, that as an island it has some unique advantages and challenges not shared with otherwise similar larger mixed destination areas on the mainland. Nonetheless, the successful DBID on the Isle of Wight will be transformation for the destination and in all likelihood for the process and cause of rolling out DBIDs to other mixed area based destinations in due course.  We at British Destination are delighted with the news of their success and will keep members posted of its progress of the DBID which went live at the beginning of January 2017.  This has then been followed by the Lincolnshire Coastal  Destination BID in February 2017 which is a mixed resort and coastal area based BID: Lincolnshire Coastal DBID Business Plan February 2017 .

3. Examples of successfully DBIDs approved in 2013 and 2017, many of which so far  happen to be popular coastal destinations include:

Lincolnshire Coastal Destination BID: Lincolnshire Coastal DBID Business Plan February 2017 see more at:

Isle of Wight: Wight BID Business Plan 2016 -2021 see more

and DBID documents at:

English Riviera: ERT BID-Business-Plan see more at:

Southend: BID-Business-Plan-2013-2018  see more at:

Weymouth: Weymouth-BID-Business-Plan see more at:

Great Yarmouth: Great Yarmouth BID Business Plan Pdf  see more at: consultancy details: The Mosaic Partnership briefing note

Southport: Southport BID Manifesto PDF   see more at:

Bournemouth’s second 5 year Town Centre Business plan for is available here and the second 5 year Coastal Bussiness Plan can be accessed via the page here .

Non-coastal DBIDs include:

Canterbury: Canterbury Connect Business Plan see more at:

Cambridge: Cambridge BID business plan see more at:


A very good example of a much wider area BID in Scotland, the  2014 Visit Inverness and Loch Ness TBID can be accesses at:

The British Destinations 2014 annual conference majored on DBIDs and excellent presentation on each of the above can be found at:

4. Tourism BIDs.  The concept of larger, purely tourism business (hotels?) based TBIDs covering several administrative areas put forward by the Core City Group continues to be developed.  Legislation in England has now been amended to allow this.   The concept is described in the Core Cities Group 2011 Publication:

Intro to TBIDs_tcm30-29357

Note the views expressed above are a brief summary and are those of the CEO British Destinations and not necessarily those of any other individual, British Destinations or of any individual member destinations.


7 thoughts on “Business Improvement Districts & Tourism

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    Destination BIDs update « British Destinations said:
    November 27, 2015 at 4:55 pm

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    […] In light of the recent Torbay yes vote and other developments the background briefing note on Business Improvement Districts & Tourism on has now been updated: […]

    Whilst I was away…… « British Destinations said:
    July 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm

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    […] Business Improvement Districts & Tourism […]

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