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TOURISM VisitEngland should ‘go it alone’

Former tourism minister John Penrose has called for VisitEngland to become an independent organisation, in line with the tourism bod- ies of the other home nations. Penrose, who was tour-

ism minister from 2010 to 2012, says the organisation should no longer fall under VisitBritain, as England needs its own standalone tourism board to match VisitScotland, VisitWales and Discover Northern Ireland. In his submission to

the government’s review of both VisitBritain and VisitEngland, Penrose notes that it is five years since the two organisations were de- merged at an operational level, but says legal ties (including sharing the same account- ing officer) should be cut so that the English tourism board can refocus its strategy. He wrote: “In the wake of the Scottish inde-

Penrose has written a submission recommending the split

of, a UK institution when the equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are fully-fledged independent bodies.” By becoming a separate entity, Penrose –

pendence referendum and the decision to pursue greater devolution and localisation of powers from Westminster, it would be incon- gruous for England’s domestic tourism board to remain subservient to, and a subsidiary

whose own Weston-super-Mare constituency is a seaside town with strong links to tour- ism – believes VisitEngland will be able to focus on helping local tourism boards bet- ter market their areas. VisitEngland, he adds, should aim to increase partnership market- ing with companies in the tourism industry. Details:

UK pushing to become a conference capital

Te government is bidding to build on the UK’s tourism boom by targeting the growing conference market to bring more high-profile business events to the country. The move was announced by

culture secretary Sajid Javid in his keynote speech at the recent World Travel Market event in London. Javid said his department is

working on a strategy that will be launched later this year to capitalise on an industry that could be worth £48.8bn to the UK by 2020. Te UK’s business events indus-

try currently employs 530,000 people and Javid is eager for this sector to learn from the success of sporting events such as the 2012 Olympic Games, the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour De France. The wide-ranging strategy to host more

Sajid Javid wants the UK to be a key player in business events

above its weight in this highly lucrative market. “We are already world leaders in hold-

major international conferences, trade fairs and expos will examine the roles played by government and industry and set out what action the UK needs to take in order to punch


ing major diplomatic and sporting events,” said Javid. “Tere is no reason we can’t be the number one destination for trade events that will help British business and the economy.” Details:

Twitter: @leisureopps Two Tier Tourism

KURT JANSON is policy director of the Tourism Alliance


ne of the more disconcert- ing facts that came out of the recent Labour Force Survey was that wage increases had

exceeded inflation for the first time in five years. While obviously this is good news, it shows that people have been under pres- sure to make ends meet for a very long time. However, the real problem is the iniq-

uitous nature of the impact – something that’s noticeable when the domestic tour- ism figures are analysed using two different parameters – socio-economic group and age. New research by VisitEngland shows that,

if you take 2006 as your pre-recession base, the number of domestic holidays taken by people in the AB socio-economic group has actually increased by 29 per cent during the recession. Most of this is due to peo- ple cutting back on their holidays overseas and taking more holidays in the UK instead. However, if you’re at the other end of the

scale (the DE socio-economic group), the number of holidays taken has fallen by 20 per cent over the same period. Te reason is that people in this group already took most of their holidays at home and being the ones with the lowest level of discretionary expen- diture were the people most impacted by inflation being higher than wages increases. Looking at the figures by age shows a

similar story. Tose over 40 increased the number of holidays that they took during the recession – due mainly to having higher incomes and also benefiting more from low mortgage rates. Meanwhile, those under 40 took a lot less due to higher unemployment, lower wages and increased difficulties saving for a house. These trends have had a corresponding impact on tourism businesses and destinations. So, while those with customer base of ABs over the age of 40 (eg., Bath and Chester) have performed strongly, destinations such as Blackpool and Great Yarmouth have struggled. If we’re to pull back from having a two tier

tourism economy and spread the economic benefits of tourism throughout the country, there need to be strategies developed that close the gaps between the “haves” and the “have nots” – both at the individual and destination level.

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