Latest Event Updates

Industry VAT Survey report, Job vacancy, group travel and more.

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1. The tourism industry survey on the impact of current VAT reductions and incremental increases back to 20% as now been published. Useful information to support any lobbying you may be conducting It should also be of interest to your own members and help demonstrate your efforts on their behalf through British Destinations and our membership of the Tourism Alliance. Find the short report via the “C-19 research” menu tab of Britishdestinations.net or go direct to the page containing this report and many more on matters pandemic related at:

https://britishdestinations.net/c19-research/

2. There is vacancy for a performing arts programmer based at Southport’s Atkinson offered at c£30.5 to £33.7 applications closing 8 Nov 21. Theatre and the performing arts have been hit hard during the last 18 plus months and this may well be the ideal post for someone currently in, out or returning to employment in this field. If its not for you, please consider circulating to appropriate colleagues. Find the details under “job vacancies +” menu tab or go direct to the page at: https://britishdestinations.net/jobs-vacancies/performing-arts-programmer-the-atkinson-southport-c-30-5k-to-33-7k-closing-8-nov-21/

3. RHA (Road Haulage Association) has expand its activities during the pandemic to include coaching. RHA have some 60 members in the coach leisure and general coach market and are happy to communicate information about new group travel developments, attractions and offers to them. Please send any specific details (rather than general travel trade circulars) to: Andrew Warrender a.warrender@rha.uk.net

4. And finally, please don’t forget to book into the joint Tourism Alliance, Tourism Society and British Destinations one day London conference followed by the Annual Industry Parliamentary reception on 15 November 2021. The event offers an excellent programme, a much needed opportunity to reengage with colleagues from a wide range of tourism interests and also to do your bit to help raise our industry’s profile again within Westminster. More under the conference 2021 menu tab or go direct to the page at: https://britishdestinations.net/annual-conference-19-march-2018/

New consultation on proposed future approaches to National travel and tourism statistics

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Last week ONS opened a consultation on their proposed future approaches to producing national travel and tourism statistics. The consolation which should be of critical interest to any user of ONS and other key national travel and tourism statistics closes on 21 December 2021.

Find the consultation link to the detail and documents under the “consultations” menu tab at Britishdestinations.net or go to our page direct at: https://britishdestinations.net/consultation-responses/open-consultations/ons-proposed-future-approaches-to-measuring-travel-and-tourism-statistics-closes-21-dec-21/

Statutory registration of accommodation businesses

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While we are still awaiting detail of the long-promised consultation in England of statutory registration, Visit Wales announced today the Welsh Government’s consultation on statutory registration or licencing. In the Visit Wales case the consultation appears to a more targeted affair conducted by consultants interviewing identified stakeholder groups rather than an open public consultation(?). As every when it comes to activities of this significance, I maintain that colleagues in the different home nations should at least be aware of what’s going on over borders that, for the visitor at least, can often be meaningless, and that there are always transferable lessons to be learnt. The outline can be seen at: News Bulletin: Establishing a statutory registration or licensing scheme for holiday accommodation operators in Wales (govdelivery.com)

In this case I am slightly puzzled by the reference in the Visit Wales text to “amateur accommodation operators”. I may be entirely wrong but in 30 years of working in the industry I can only recall ever hearing that term used twice: once today and once in the rather grandly titled Airbnb short-term lets registration “white paper” quietly published in June of this year.

Again I may be off track but I am extremely dubious about us all inadvertently accepting, without question, that an amateur status does, should or could be accepted in the provision of paid for accommodation, unless it is an already firmly establish principle that I am just unaware of? For example, I am reasonably reasonable sure that we wouldn’t readily accept the creation of a category of say: amateur taxi driver or amateur publican on the basis that these “amateurs”, however defined, don’t trade with the general public that often or on that large a scale and therefore it is a bit too much of a faff applying the legislative and regulatory controls deemed necessary for, “professionals”, in the rest of the regulated industry. To me this seems like a very slippery slope towards woolly definitions and more, albeit different, opportunities for abuse and confusion at the fringes. If you trade in a regulated area, then surely you should be regulated whether you then chose to trade a little or a lot? Ultimately that your choice and your customers are no more or no less entitled to the same level of regulatory protection as anyone else’s in what is for the customer at least exactly the same circumstances.

Whether you are responding to the consultation in Wales or waiting for the consultation in England it might be a good time to acquaint yourselves with light touch proposal already put forward by Airbnb for short-term let sector and by default potential for all other accommodation providers. Airbnb have a reasonably well-established reputation for resisting regulatory control for as long as possible and when it looks like it is all but inevitable using their not insubstantial recourses to try an minimise the impact. This may not be the case this time, however, whilst all very plausible the “white paper” does appear to propose a very light touch approach that reinforces the principle that whatever happen the liabilities don’t lie with the platform provider. Again, I may be wrong but by publishing the white paper well in advance of the consultation and framing it in the way that they have that there is already a danger there proposals becoming the default starting point for an “industry lead” solution. Whether I am right or not about this, I do think that colleagues should at least read it and drawing their own conclusions before they look to respond to any formal government consultations, now or in future months. You can find the Airbnb paper listed under the Britishdestinations.net research & statistics – by year, menu tab or go direct to the page at: https://britishdestinations.net/1194-2/content/airbnb-short-term-lets-registration-white-paper-2021/

I would welcome thoughts and direction from members for use in a response to either or both consolations.

Annual Conference 15 November 2021

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I’m pleased to announce that the rescheduled, joint British Destinations, Tourism Alliance and Tourism Society 2021 Tourism Conference will be held at the Royal Over Seas League, London SW1A 1LR, on Monday 15th November, 9.30 am for 10 am to 3pm followed at 4pm to 6 pm by a Parliamentary Reception in the Member’s Dining Room in the House of Commons.

The conference theme is rebuilding the UK tourism industry. Nigel Huddleston the Westminster, Minister for Tourism will give the keynote speech on tourism recovery plans. Nick de Bois Chairman VisitEngland will outline his recommendations on the English DMO review and discus its implications and implementation. Other highlights include: new research on the benefits of retaining reduced VAT on tourism services, work by the National Trust on climate and the need for responses from the UK tourism industry and more.

This is a major opportunity for tourism professionals and a wide range representatives from the industry to reengage with each other, to meet face to face and discuss key issues, formally and informally, and to demonstrate the importance of tourism at the heart of the Westminster Government. Please support the event and by doing so directly support your own industry as it starts the long climb to full recovery from what has now been the longest and deepest crisis that domestic and international tourism has experienced in the last 75 years.

The cost for members is £95 plus VAT. More detail regarding the events, including the booking link, can be accessed on Britishdestinations.net under the conference 2021 menu tab, or go to the page direct here.

British Destinations’ conference sponsor:

QT Logo CMYK (002)

 www.qualityintourism.com 

Review of Destination Organisations in England

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This morning DCMS published the independent review of destination organisations in England conducted by Nick de Bois. It is a robust report that makes 12 recommendations, some aimed at Central Government, some at destination organisations and some at Local Government and LEPS.

At this early stage I can’t recommendation any easy short cuts to digesting this 80 odd page report. The forward and recommendations are a must but not to read the report in full, or only to scan it would be to miss some hugely important points and could easily lead to misinterpretation about the intent and what the summary recommendations actually means or critically the rational behind them.

If the report is accepted by DCMS Minister and goes forward (or has already gone forward?) for funding under the DCMS comprehensive spending review submission there are several hurdles yet to overcome, most notably Treasury acceptance and funding. Thereafter the devil will be in the detailed implementation which will require active and enthusiastic engagement from all English destination organisations of all types and sizes and if my understanding is correct, a good deal of cooperation and compromises from all parties involved and resigned acceptance from those few inevitably excluded.

The DCMS report can be found under the National Strategies and Policies + tab of British Destinations.net or go direct to the page at: https://britishdestinations.net/strategies-and-policies/tourism-industry-strategies-policies/review-of-destination-organisations-in-england/

Industry led business survey on impacts of VAT reduction closing 17 Sep 21.

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As part of their VAT lobbying work, Tourism Alliance, of which we are members, are working with UKHospitality, BBPA, ALVA and BII on a new survey to determine the impact of the current VAT cut to tourism and hospitality business, and what a future VAT increase would mean to the sector.

If you feel it appropriate and practical, can you please consider circulating this to your destination’s accommodation, food or attraction businesses that are currently benefitting from the reduced VAT Rate. The deadline for submission of Friday 17th September is now tight.

https://eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_81UeZkEiSRNInps

The survey will take less than 5 minutes to complete and all responses will be treated as confidential and no individual level data will be shared.

Event industry further update

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Having pondered the meaning of the DCMS announcement on their Live Events Reinsurance Scheme earlier today and then distributing my understanding of it I stumbled on a short narrative description from what I would classify as a grade A source. The Chancellors letter to the Chair of the Treasurer Select Committee gives a much clearer picture of the intent, including confirmation of the proposed stat date of 30 September this year, without the necessary complication of legal T&C etc. given in the DCMS announcement. The letter can be accessed at: https://britishdestinations.net/599-2/content/live-event-reinsurance-scheme-6-sept-2021/

Events industry update

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Two potentially important developments:

1. BVEP (British Visitor and Events Partnership) have just published an excellent report entitled Supporting Sustainable Growth for the UK Events Industry. Although much of it prompted by the impacts of the pandemic, I have chosen to added it to the association’s main research and reports library and not the c-19 specific section as it is more general and longer term relevance as we move into recover and toward a new normality. No suggested short-cuts on this occasion; if the subject is of interest as it should be then you will need to scan if not read the meat of the report found in two dozen of the 27 pages: https://wordpress.com/page/britishdestinations.net/18095

2. Yesterday the Westminster Government announced the substance of a DCMS administered UK wide Live Event reinsurance scheme which will run from, as I read it a launch date, yet to be finalised, until 30 September 2022 and, thus, covering much of the main 2022 season.

In outline it will be a three-tiered (by value) scheme for all manner of public (i.e. not for example for weddings etc.) events reinsurance. HMG will collect premium payments from participating insurers whose schemes meets the criteria and the detailed terms of the scheme and indemnify them for losses resulting from cancellation, abandonment, relocation and postponement resulting from (covid-19 related) UK Civil Authority restrictions. The insurance must be taken out in addition to appropriate, standard event cancellation (not necessarily with the same insurer?) at a premium set at 5% of the total sum insured. A 5% or £1k (whichever is the greater) excess will apply. Insurance must be taken out at least 8 weeks prior to commencement but there will be a 12-week window where this does not apply from the start of the scheme.

Not surprisingly the detail is complex and presented at times in impenetrable insurance industry/legal/regulatory terms. Much more will doubtless become clearer in the coming weeks and months as the insurance industry and DCMS develop the scheme and start promoting the new product alongside their standard even products to prospective event organisers. Regardless of the detail to follow, this has to be regarded as good news for events, conference entertainment (plus, plus?) public, private and third sectors providers, hosts and facilitators. Hopefully this has removed or at least gone someway to alleviate the unacceptable and, until now, largely uninsurable risks associated with covid-19 impacting upon a wide range of public “events”.

The initial details (not an easy read and as likely as not to prompt as many questions as it answers, especially among casual, non-insurance industry readers like me) can be accessed at: Outline of scheme rules (HTML version) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

3. It may be prudent to add any immediate issues or questions emerging from the DCMS announcement to the agenda for our next “destination managers” meeting 1400hrs 22 September 2021? If members or indeed any appropriate guests, have not had an email invitation to attend that meeting please contact me so I can rectify the omission or consider any request to participate as a non-member guest.

Insurance issues can you assist a colleague?

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Southport is facing a potential issue regarding new insurance requirements on a major public asset. Can you or anyone in your team help with a bit of basic background information or have you local contacts for those who might be able to help clarify the situation for either the public or private sector in your destination. It is specifically a coastal asset but experience on other major publicly accessible assets of any type anywhere may still be of help: https://britishdestinations.net/need-an-answer/insurance-issues/

Quick update and one to watch out for

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1. Firstly the one to what out for:

As an organisation we have become increasingly concerned about alleged price gouging in certain areas of the domestic market and, specifically, the likely reputational damage that this will have done to UK domestic tourism as a whole now and, with the certain return to far greater outbound competition for the UK domestic holiday pound, the damage and the lost opportunity costs it could have in or for future years. The primary area of concern lies around hard to justify/ unjustifiably high price increases in the self-catering accommodation market and involves both traditional and new sharing economy providers and their routes to market (OTA and sharing platforms).

We believe that increases in some cases of a third or more on 2019 late summer 2020 prices can’t be justified and that cumulatively these increases will only serve to reinforce the previously erroneous view among those not used to holidaying in the UK that it is an overly expensive destination, whist at the same time, serving to alienate, or even disenfranchise, many a previously loyal supporter of the UK domestic industry.

In current circumstances some prices increases can of course be justified to recoup previously lost income or, in particular, to offset increased supply, services and staffing costs. Given the nature of self-catering this where it become a more obvious target for questions about ethics behind the decision making and, particularly, about the some of the apparent levels of increase imposed.

Unfortunately we are now not the only ones concerned about the perceived problem. Tonight (Monday 7pm) BBC’s Panorama are airing a programme on the subject. We are not fully aware of the content but from comments from colleagues asked to participate and from snippets of promotional material we have seen published it is unlikely to be gratifying for either those sub-sectors featured or, by inference, for the domestic industry as a whole. Moreover, is highly likely that the programme will prompt a wave of interest from other local, regional and national media providers and the public in general, hence, the perceived need to alerting you to the programme in advance of its broadcast and with only the vaguest of notion of its detailed content. Forewarned hopefully is forearmed.

2. I have added the VisitEngland’s Visitor Attractions Trends in 2020 report published last week to the Research and Statistics -by year page of BritishDestinations.net. Although the period covered is 2020 and therefore heavily impacted by Covid-19 I have reverted to including it in the main research library, not the specific c-19 research section. It is well worth a read in full but headline comments, most if not all of which are relevant to the wider UK attraction’s market, can be found at pages 10 to 15: https://britishdestinations.net/research-and-statistics/

In a previous update I mentioned changes to the methodology for Great British Tourism Statistics (GBTS) and the fact that comparability, thankfully would be maintained by reissuing the previous 10 year’s of data recalculated using the new methodology . I did so to alert those who use local data largely generated from Regional and above level GBTS that there may be a potential problem with comparability for their local data arising?

I also mused about whether changed EU derived requirements for UK tourism data might have a negative impact on the maintenance of vital international (IPS) and domestic GBTS and day visits and other national or nation specific research. In doing so I erroneously suggested that GBTS and some of the other critical national data was the product of ONS (ONS produce the International Passenger Survey). GBTS and GB Day visitor survey are the joint products of the three British tourist boards and are paid for by them, as are individual nation reports like the English Attractions survey above.

My careless error in attributing the production of these reports to ONS does not change the fact that these high level reports are essential tools for much of the industry; often underpinning or playing a vital role in deriving below regional, local level estimates (dependent on what commercial models are used). It doesn’t really matter which Government agency provides them; what matters is that the importance of the data is recognised during this period or radical upheaval and that those bodies and agencies providing them are adequately resourced by Government to allow them to keep providing them. With the Comprehensive spending review looming this all the more important and I would suggest time sensitive.

3. Coastal members in England and Wales may wish to note that the Environment Agency has issued a short consolation letter outlining how it intends to address the lack of bathing water samples taken last year. Last years results are an issue because the standard achieved are now based on a four year rolling average and a 2020 results or lack of them therefore influences results in the following three years not simply in the following year as was once the case.

This is very much a practical issue directed towards bathing water controllers but it may have positive or negative marketing or other implications for beaches that are typically borderline poor or dipping in and out of excellent . If it is of any interest to you please see the UK Beach Management Forum (a subset of British Destination and run by us) update at:

https://ukbeachmanagementforum.wordpress.com/latest-news-and-posts-from-ukbmf/

4. I will be confirming details of our joint one day Tourism Conference and Westminster Parliamentary event, hopefully by the end of this week. Meanwhile save the date Monday of 15 November.

We are also eagerly anticipating the publication, hopefully this month but possibly later, of the English DMO review, one of the proposed key topics for the conference. Depending on the final recommendations and of course the all important acceptance by Ministers, this publication and more accurately implementation could be critical moment for destination management in England and, over time by association, destination management elsewhere. Or it could of course herald a variation on business as usual for some or all English destination managers, albeit in far from usual times. Everything now hinges on what the review proposes and how any new or redirected resource made available to enable change is then deployed, to whom and for what purposes.