Latest Event Updates

Destination Intelligence – Call for data collection submissions

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As a member of British Destinations, you are entitled to take part in the annual Destination Intelligence survey at no additional cost. We continue to use the excel-based input form to structure and collect the data. We have received a good response so far but not everybody has submitted their latest performance data yet.

We would like to update the reports as much up to date data as possible. We are inviting you to take part in this year’s survey and we would welcome submitted forms by Friday 22 February 2019.

Note that we are collecting data for 2017/18 data (or 2017 calendar year if applicable). The outputs for this year’s Destination Intelligence will include:

  • Individual results
  • Group results
  • Dashboard (excel based)

How to simplify the input process?

If you submitted your results last year we will be happy to send you an editable copy for editing.

We can send you a copy of your destination reports published last year from which you can extract relevant information or suggest changes.

Download the latest data available for your destination from the Destination Intelligence website. You can access the data following this link: Destination Intelligence.

****PLEASE NOTE****: the Destination Intelligence website is password protected. Please email for the password. Alternative using your main website password you can access the destination intelligence password on the following page:

How else can we help? We will be happy to extract data from your existing reports and add it to the Destination Intelligence profile to save you time – This may include the latest copy of your latest economic impact report (STEAM or Cambridge Model) or a business plan or similar paper that describes the tourism activity for your destination.

Please request it by contacting Sergi Jarques (




Edinburgh Council seeks members approval to introduce a tourism levy

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Edinburgh Council are in the middle of the process of recommending a transient visitor levy.  Proposal will now go to Elected member next week and, if approved, will be put to the Ministers and MSPs for their consideration.  Regardless of the outcome the documentation associated with this move provide food for thought and may be of use to others, whether your are in favour or oppose such developments See more at: Council seeks members approval to introduce a tourism levyrelated-articles/

Annual Conference 1 April 2019 now open for bookings

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Details of this year’s joint Tourism Alliance, Tourism Society and British Destinations’ one day conference, followed by annual Industry Parliamentary Reception in the House of Commons have been posted on the annual conference 2019 main menu tab.  Bookings are now being taken now, with a venue limit of 150 delegates. Member discounts are available. For further information or to book visit:


Conference partners

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Business rate valuation self-catering properties in England and Wales

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Colleagues in the Professional Association of Self-Caterers (PASC UK) have persuaded the Valuation Office to agree a major reduction in self-catering business rate valuations in both England and Wales.  The ability to seek a revaluation came in to force yesterday and any reduction subsequently granted will be backdated to April 2017 when the current rates were set.  There is therefore both a potential future reduction in valuation and rates paid and a refund on past over-payments on offer.

The reduction on average will be 33.3% of the current rate but in reality, it will vary depending on how accurate the original 2017 valuation was.  Where this reduction pushes the  rateable value below £15k, businesses will be able to apply for tapered relief and below £12k for the 100% small business relief, meaning further saving for some and for others, no charges at all.

The revaluation and associated reduction are not automatic.  Businesses must apply and submit what might appear at first to be a complicated revaluation form.  Doubtless, a small army of claims handlers will soon appear on the scene offering to submit the revaluation for a hearty cut of the future savings and any rebate.

Alternatively, businesses can speak to colleague in PASC UK who are producing a useful Q&A on how to complete and submit the form directly and at no cost, other than form filling.  Not unreasonable, in return PASC UK simply wish to have the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise and promote membership among professional self-caterers (full-time businesses, who generally do not let their properties or market them via agents). There is no obligation to join PASC UK and businesses are of course free to contact the valuation office direct, or engage agents to submit claims at an agreed cost or an agreed cut of the savings made.

Please consider circulating the PASC UK briefing note to your self-catering businesses:

2019 rateable value changes self-catering properties in England and Wales

Clearly there will be implications for business rate income in England and Wales. The downstream implications of these for local authority area funding are as yet unknown to us.

Credit Card Fees update

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You will be aware that since 13 January 2018 it has not been permissible to charge a different price for goods or services based on the method of payment, specifically you can no longer legally charge a credit card fee or conversely do much the same thing by offering discounts for say cash payments that would in effect make the credit card payments higher than the alternative.  The only exceptions are payment by business credit or business debit cards, where separate charges to recoup the actual cost of a B2B credit card transaction remain legal.

Unhelpfully it is still permissible to levy a surcharge for cash, cheque and bank transfers payments like direct debit, provided that the surcharge doesn’t exceed the actual processing cost you are attempting to recoup.  Typically, these type of surcharge payments are applied in areas like the payment of utility bills or in phone contracts and seldom on the routine sale of general goods and services.   More helpfully the new law still allows for the previous common practice of charging a booking, administrative, delivery or similar fees, provided now that the cost is the same to all customers, regardless of the means of payment.  The level of fee isn’t specified.  Understandably perhaps some businesses may be confusing the credit card regulation and the separate surcharge regulation and getting it wrong on credit card payments.

We reminded you about the credit card fee regulations last December, principally to ensure your plans and advance promotion for major events and other charged for destination based activities in 2019 – 20 reflected the new law and so that you could also remind key local partners and local businesses, should you feel it necessary.  My instinct is that those of you who mount your own events or facilitate others to do so may well get involved in ticketing or similar transactions, traditionally an area that has attracted a differential fees and payment structure.

What has changed since December? Nothing much, other than various consumer groups are rightly continuing to make the public aware of the issues and at least one television-based consumer investigation screened last weekend, ended by urging consumers who have been charged differential rates, regardless of amount involved, to seek to claim these back.  It is that call, which in the way of these things may well be picked up by other consumer groups, that has prompted this update.

Facing a future trading standards investigation and possible legal action is something that we would all wish to avoid.  Facing the administrative nightmare of a potential unexpected wave of retrospective reclaims, for previous unintended errors (back to Jan 18), however, small the individual sums or the total amount involved might be, doesn’t, in my view, bear thinking about.

I am far from certain about the detailed legal basis for claiming a refund, it will vary depending on precise circumstance in each case.  What is clear is that a proven illegal charge can be reclaimed and should be paid.  What the moral position might be, or the nature and scale of the reputational damage done, regardless of how you react to any such requests is a different matter.  On balance I doubt anything much will come of this and I have absolutely no desire to set hares running or to accidentally encourage the very thing I am trying to help you avoid. I raise it now on the basis that for any DMO that might be vulnerable to such claims, forewarned is forearmed.

If you have not already done so it may be worth checking that going forward your key partners are up to speed on this, if only to avoid finding at some later date that you have been inadvertently helping to publicly promote and/or support an illegal practice. Again, very much more of  an issue of protecting the destination’s reputational capital than any concern for material cost.


A potential problem with the latest House of Commons tourism briefing note?

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The House of Commons Tourism statistics and policy briefing note, potentially the first port of call for Westminster based politicians and their staff wishing to know more about tourism in the UK, has recently been updated.  It is designed as an impartial, factual briefing documents covering the key points on UK and home nation tourism.

Colleagues in some other sectors have privately questioned the presentation of certain “facts” and/or the interpretations of them.  I was very relaxed about this and the content as a whole, until I read what may be seen by other parts of the industry to be a similarly innocuous one-liner on destination management on page 24 under the Discover England Fund section.

In discussing the Discover England fund this section mentions “Destination Management Organisations (DMOs)”, indicates that there are, “….200+ such organisations in England and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes” and then states that: “DMOs rarely have a significant role in the management of their destination, but rather provide information to potential visitors and market the destination”.

That may be the case in some instance, particularly for a small number of the County/larger area-based destination marketing organisations but it certainly isn’t the case for the majority both managing and marketing smaller rural destination areas, historic and other destination towns, coastal resorts and small, medium and large City destinations in England, or for those doing much the same in the other home nations.

The consequence of this misunderstanding and the apparently, coincidental path of some current Westminster Government policies may well be pushing matters rapidly in that direction; a direction where destination management is no longer the business of local public, private or public private sector tourism partnerships and is therefore left largely to fall between the cracks. If it isn’t the Destination Management Organisations business then who’s is it?

There are limited opportunities to comment on the content of the briefing note, these will be explored and the most influential route taken.  Meanwhile the publication severs as a timely reminder, if one is needed, of the pressing need to repeatedly reminding Westminster based politicians and officials of the importance of destination management as a core local competence of most local DMOs.

Destinations that ceases to be adequately managed, will in time cease to be destinations that are worth visiting or revisiting and a cycle of decline will soon begin to set in. The fact that this decline is seldom or ever instantaneous allows for short-sighted, short-term cost savings to be made with relative impunity. Those professionals who manage destinations know only too well that serious damage can take as little as a couple of years to start to take hold and that thereafter it accelerates and expands rapidly. Moreover, reversing declining is almost always far more difficult, far more long-lived and costlier than avoiding it in the first place.

Many traditional destinations have had first-hand experience of what happens when you fail to manage the destination to meet changing circumstance and simply carry on marketing them and their main constituent public and private products.  It has taken two- and a-bit decades of investment and hard work to successfully reverse several decades of deep decline before that which were sparked initially by the advent of the inexpensive overseas package holiday in the mid-70s.   In the current changing circumstance let’s not be forced or cajoled into make much the same mistakes again, especial now that tourism is no longer the preserve of relatively few large, established resorts and rural tourist areas but ubiquitous and an important social and economic driver in a much wider range of communities.

If you get the opportunity to challenge the assertion that DMOs rarely have a role in managing their destination, for example with your local MPs, then please do so.

The original briefing note has been added to the National level political policies and strategies main tab on or go direct to the page at:

Calls for online sales tax to save the UK high street ruled out?

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A Times article published today suggesting that a letter from Mel Stride MP financial secretary to the Treasury written to Nicky Morgan MP, chair of the Treasury Select Committee has effectively rules out the introduction of an online sales tax; a tax most notably called for by Mike Ashley and a number of other leading retailers in their  oral evidence to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee high streets and town centres 2030 inquiry in early December.  Treasury “sources” are quoted as saying that they have not ruled anything out yet.  The tone and content of the article is persuasive but not absolutely conclusive.

Mr Stride’s letter is said by the Times to say there is “high risk” that any such tax would breach the (EU) bloc’s state-aid rules.  The article points out that while we are due to leave the EU at the end of March, under the draft withdrawal agreement Britain has accepted “dynamic alignment” with Brussels on state-aid rules.

The inference is that EU state-aid regulation could/would still apply post 29 March, during any subsequent period of negotiations on the detail of the withdraw and depending on outcome of those negotiation probably well beyond that. This of course assumes that we don’t simply leave without a deal.

Given a further period of Brexit negotiations the financial secretary’s statement does appear to makes it unlikely that any new sales tax will be seriously considered, let alone introduced, at least in shorter term. Some analysts meanwhile are suggesting that without some radical actions, like an online sales tax, time is already fast running out for traditional high street retailers.  Continued lobbying efforts to level the total cost base between online and traditional retail, whether that is via sale taxes, revision of business rates, realignment of high street rents or by  a mix of these and other means, need our support in order to help ensure we retain  a key element within the attraction of many of our more urban, resort, town and City destinations.