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Fisheries White Paper response

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Although not a mainstream tourism consultation the Fisheries White Paper does discuss future fisheries community funding  and references the Coastal Community Fund which is of direct relevance to coastal tourism interests.  British Destinations have taken the opportunity to major on the importance of tourism to the coast and importance of the CCF to non-fisheries communities.  The aim being to ensure that Defra don’t presume that the current CCF  could in part act as a substitute for the current European Maritime and Fisheries Funding support for UK Fisheries which ends post Brexit in 2020.  See our response at:

https://britishdestinations.net/consultation-responses/open-consultations/fisheries-white-paper-closed-12-sep-2018/

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It is well over time we took over tourism seriously

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Over tourism – a problem of too many tourists or one of not enough management of tourism (strategy/policy issues) or of tourists (infrastructure/operational issues)?  Are some UK destinations now in serious danger of  accidentally smothering the golden goose or alternatively of missing the equally golden opportunity to spread the social and economic benefits more widely or over longer periods?  Is this a major reputational issue and therefore one capable of causing damage well beyond those places and those times at which the peaks of over tourism actually occur?

The questions around over tourism are complex.  As it seems likely that the problem will grow and spread to other destinations, these are questions that British Destinations now wish to start confronting.  We are doing so in order to help prompt further debate around policy and strategic direction, infrastructure and operational matters at national through to local level.  We also wish to see far more discussions around the critical (?) role of destination management in dealing with what logically appears to be a local management issue but one with significant national consequences attached.

Although not directly related to the sharing economy, the sharing accommodation sector is frequently cited as one of the factors helping to drive, over tourism, especially in popular urban destinations and Cities in particular.  Rather than creating yet another main menu tab, on Britishdestinations.net, articles that relate to UK and international over tourism will now be posted in the drop-down menu under the sharing economy tab or got direct to the page of recent relevant articles at:

https://britishdestinations.net/tourism-the-sharing-economy-and-its-wider-implications/over-tourism/

Colleagues seek assistance with new print project

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Colleagues at Swale are revisiting the production of print after a long absence.  Can any destination or commercial member assist by offering advice, current examples or contacts?  See details of the request under the “Forum: ask questions get answers” main menu tab of Britishdestinations.net, or go direct to the relevant page at:

https://britishdestinations.net/need-an-answer/visitors-map-tourism-information-publication-brief-examples-recommendations/

More articles on the sharing economy added. Why are we interested?

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I have added a couple of recent news items on the sharing accommodation sector to our growing library of article on the sharing economy including today’s BBC piece entitled: “What Airbnb really does to a neighbourhood”.  Other new additions are article on: potential restrictions in the Republic of Ireland, renewed concerns in Edinburgh, Airbnb’s rebuff of hotelier’s campaign for more controls in Bristol, and belated entries on Council proposals for Bath from 14 July and the original article on Bristol hotelier’s campaign from 29 June.

If you are aware of other informative articles we’ve missed then please send the details so they can be added.  Any information on positive or negative, local experience, whether provided for publication or sharing with colleagues or just to inform our own internal debates (please specify) would be welcomed.

Why are we interested?  There seems to us that there may be a serious potential mismatch between the apparent higher national level tourism strategic view on the merits of the sector and the destination management’s operational delivery, development and planning experience in many, but not necessarily all destinations.  The sharing accommodation sector, at one extreme, is seen as being nothing but a power for good, shaking up the market and providing much needed, additional accommodation, often of a new, different, more authentic and potentially more attractive style that has broad appeal to both new and existing customers.  On the other extreme the sector’s rapid and currently, it is said, largely unregulated development is seen as creating a range of unintended, socio-economic problems both for other existing tourism interests and for wider society within many destinations, that combined may far outweighs any localised or national tourism advantages.

How to square that circle so that “tourism” and the host communities benefit from the almost inevitable, continuing growth of the sharing accommodation sector, whilst not creating all manner of unwelcome problems elsewhere within the fabric of popular destinations is currently one of our highest priority tasks. As ever, member’s views  inform, if and how we precede, the general direction to be taken and determine the ultimate nature of the goal we jointly wish to achieve.  Please feel free to contribute.

See the new articles at: https://britishdestinations.net/tourism-the-sharing-economy-and-its-wider-implications/

 

Draft Fisheries White Paper response

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Action: coastal destination members.  Information: inland destination members

I am attaching a draft letter to Defra for your comment, and/or amendment.  Although about future fisheries policy the White Paper could conceivably impact on the Coastal Communities Fund, hence our interest:

It is deliberately blunt narrative response designed to try to make a couple of very simple points:

  • that tourism is vitally important to most coastal communities
  • and that the Coastal Communities Fund is already heavily overcommitted and can’t easily be called upon to replace EU funding for fisheries, if indeed there is any intent to do so.

It may well not be necessary but it isn’t worth taking the risk, simply for the want of bothering to writing to them.  It is also a good general platform from which to subsequently raise the usual raft of issues around the importance of tourism, the need for effective destination management, access to core funding etc. for coastal and all other well-established destination communities, with Defra, other Westminster Departments, and politicians in all Governments. I am assuming that those of you that haven’t a strong fisheries element are unlikely to respond yourselves? If that is incorrect then let me know and I will adjust the letter accordingly. Equally feel free to add weight to our response with your own.

Background: The Fisheries White paper which sets out the complexities of a post Brexit UK fishing industry policies contains a very short section on resourcing the UK Government’s future approach at section 3.  Paragraphs 3.1 and 3.2 deal with the current European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EEMF – €243.1m over 5 years up to 2020) and, “whether and how” to replace it.  Paragraph 3.3 looks briefly at the future support for coastal communities.  This paragraph mentions future plans for a UK Shared Prosperity Fund, its potential importance to disadvantaged coastal communities and the planned consultation on it, that was set out under the Industrial Strategy White Paper.  Critically the paragraph 3.3 also references the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) as, “another fund available to support fishing communities” (next available two-year round being 2021 – 2023).  Responses to the consultation paper  at:   https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/fisheries-white-paper-sustainable-fisheries-for-future-generations/sustainable-fisheries-for-future-generations-consultation-document are required by 12 September 2018.

Taken as a very brief statement of fact this is all very innocuous.  However, given the importance of CCF to all coastal communities and not just to the relatively few fisheries communities within them, and viewed alongside the loss of the EMFF by 2020 and the reference to “whether and how” to replace it, I do have a nagging concern, particularly as I’m assuming that only those relatively few places with significant fisheries are likely to respond. Defra might get an unintentionally skewed fisheries view of funding requirements for all “coastal communities” or could quite easily come to their own erroneous conclusions around the level of available resources, the scale of need and the ability of the already heavily oversubscribed Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s CCF to take-up any slack in funding post the demise of EEMF.  If that were the case it would serve neither the fisheries or the much wider general coastal communities’ interests.

I hope you follow and broadly agree with the rational for the letter?  The draft of which can be accessed here. Please let me have your views and any amendments ASAP and absolutely by no later than close of play 11 September 2018.

Coastal Select Committee Coastal Towns Regeneration Inquiry

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I am writing to remind coastal members that the recently formed House of Lords issue specific Coastal Select Committee is taking evidence for its inquiry into the regeneration of coastal towns and to seek comment for our own consolidated response and that of the Tourism Alliance.  The deadline for submission to the committee is 9 October 2018, therefore I need your comments ASAP:

https://britishdestinations.net/consultation-responses/open-consultations/regenerating-seaside-towns-communities-select-committee-call-for-evidence-closes-9-October-18/

Member destinations may of course wish to make their own submissions.  I have made the Tourism Alliance aware of the inquiry and confirmed that they intend to make a submission, to which I will contribute on your behalf.  British Destination will also make its own submission on behalf of the full membership.  Coastal members, in particular, are invited to send me outline  comments on their key concerns and main asks of government.  Bullet point, headline thoughts, received sooner would be preferable to detailed comments received later.

More in the news

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Public toilet provision. The BBC “Reality Check” conducted a survey of public toilet provision in England, Scotland and Wales by first and second tier Councils.  The article on their findings which at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45009337 prompted a number of national media reports mostly themed around the perception of significantly reduced public provision.

The headline figures are indeed stark, although it should be noted that in some cases the responsibility for provision has been handed down to a lower tier of local government (Parish, Town etc.) or outsourced under other arrangements, even in some cases to voluntary groups, so the number of closures may not be as high as the headlines figures suggests.

Nonetheless, it is yet a worrying indicator that the ability of local public authorities to maintain the quality of place, public amenities and public infrastructure to a level that at least meets or beats the visitor’s and indeed resident’s expectation are being undermined in many established destinations, by a combination of reduced funding and increased costs, particularly in those places where the principal local authority is also responsible for adult and children’s social care.

I would welcome views on whether the provision of public toilets remains as an important to the visitor economy as we once thought, for example, in our evidence to the 2008 Select Committee Inquiry on the provision of public toilets:  https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmcomloc/636/636.pdf  written evidence commencing bottom page 112, specifics on demand at page 114.

Over tourism and tourism tax. The Guardian recently carried an interesting, well-balanced  piece on “over tourism” including reference to “tourism tax” and the role of the sharing economy in facilitating uncontrolled development:   https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2018/aug/16/wish-you-werent-here-how-the-tourist-boom-and-selfies-are-threatening-britains-beauty-spots .   These are all issues that we looking at and hopefully such articles will prompt others to consider the opportunities to positively influence development, rather than to have to deal with the consequence when it all just a little bit too late.

New scheme for sharing accommodation sector. The Evening Standard carried a short article announcing plans by the UK Short-Term Accommodation Association (UK STAA formed 2017) to offer Quality in Tourism’s safe clean and legal scheme to its members.  The article’s primarily focus, like that of UK STAA, is on the sharing accommodation sector.  The concept has the support of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/world-first-airbnb-sanction-scheme-aims-to-expose-rogue-landlords-a3913891.html

Online sales and the gig economy. There is increasing speculation in the financial pages that the Chancellor may be losing patience with the loss of revenue from the online sales and the often closely associated gig economy.  It is suggested that there may be new taxes planned for online sales platforms for the Autumn budget.  Published figures vary significantly, but for example, Amazon the largest player in this area is said to have paid only £1.7 m in tax in the UK on revenues of £2 bn and a corporation tax bill of £4.6 m on a profit of £72 m in 2017.  The total value of UK sales was £8.8 bn with much of it apparently booked elsewhere.

The potential new taxes are said to be aimed at levelling the playing field between online and traditional High Street retail who carry the additional burdens including higher property rental costs, higher business rates and typically more/higher employment costs including, pension and NI payments.  I suspect the hard-pressed traditional retail would much prefer to see their costs levelled downwards towards those of their online competitors.  Personally, I also suspect it is far more about the realisation that the new business models are not just shifting how business is conducted but also how much government’s tax cut is and where the true value of the totality of the business done ultimately lodges.  I hope I am wrong and that by making (all?) online businesses contribute more to the public purse, in taxes, social security contributions and pension provision we will see the traditional retail model begin to stabilise.