State of UK Tourism Trade Blog

Posted 4th April

Lots of owners still have availability during the Easter holidays.

Posted 9th Dec

Having checked several of the main self catering cottage letting agencies sites this morning.
The amount of cottages still available at Christmas is quite simply… staggering!

The failure to stop the planned increase in Air Passenger Duty Tax in the November budget will do nothing to help Britain’s economy. Its unlikly to make the domestic market holiday at home and APD discourage foreign holidaymakers ( who pay the tax on their return flight) from visiting. Home Goal George!
In the past week it was announced than 4 English coastal resorts recorded the highest amount of personal bancrupcies last year.

Posted 14th Oct:

The pilot scheme allowing the relaxation on UK visa rules for Chinese tourists, at last allows Britain to compete on a level playing field with the other 26 European countries, who already have a simplified visa requirement.

However… if the simplified visa is only going to be available to approved Chinese tour operators organising big tours or business people. It will not help small tourism businesses in struggling resorts or rural economies, only increase trade in hot spots like London, Bath, Cotswolds, Stratford on Avon and the Lake District.

2013 been a good trading year, thanks entirley to wonderful settled weather. How profitable it been with tourists leaving late to book and haggling over price remains to be seen.

Tourism Trade 2013

A Fix for Britain’s Tourism Industry can be found at the bottom of this page.
The days of booking well in advance at full price have gone. The discount Genie that crawled out of the bottle a few years ago has spread like an infectious virus. Now discounting seems to be the norm. There are huge amounts of vacant cottages over the Easter Holidays. Dont believe me? Check out several of the best cottage agencies websites. Posted 4th April 2014.

Thankfully the weather was good summer of 2013 so it proved to be a good year, however discounting was rife. There were a lot of vacant cottages out of peak season. Demand for holiday cottages during late July and early August exceeded supply.

Tourism is an industry that I have “in my own small way” constantly strived to help grow and improve during the last 46 years. Because of my lifelong passion, involvement and experience, i feel qualified to comment on tourism’s pulse:-

Government remains utterly out of touch with the needs of Britain’s tourism industry.
Tourism accounts for 8% of the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) which according to the UK Treasury is exactly the same 8% as the financial sector. And yet, Britain’s tourism industry continues to be totally neglected by Government, while shed loads of Wonga have been spent attempting to sort out the financial sector, nothing much has been done to help the important tourism sector.

Q Why is Britains Tourism Industry in such a mess?
A: During the last 15 years, tourism has undergone a sea change due to the internet revolution, low cost flights, massive increased global competition, discounting contagion, plus a complete change in holiday tastes by the domestic market.
British pensioners who once sat on a English seaside prom, now backpack up global mountains, fly away for a few days of sun to exotic places. Huge numbers of affluent Brits now cruise the world on increasing larger ships. The vast majority of these liners are registered in other countries, and employ mostly non-British low paid workers, and get built and refitted overseas.
During this ocean of change, there had not been “a single strategic tourism policy” that has met the industry’s needs. Even an idiot should understand that new global customers are required to replace the rapidy declining domestic market to avert an economic meltdowrn.

Tourism is languishing under the direction of “The Department of Arts Media & Culture & Sport.” The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform would be far more appropriate for Britain’s fifth largest wealth creator.
Visit Britain is an ineffective Quango made up of the great and the good. Britain’s Tourism Industry truly deserves”radical change”, a long term stratergy and professionals at the helm. The global tourism market is highly competive and run by professionals with big budgets and vision.

Wake Up! Austerity stifles growth, economic growth will only come after Reform and Investment. Reform of Britain’s tourism industry should be a key priority, or increased competition from an absolute multitude of countries and overseas cruise companies who have invested and rebranded, will drive increasing numbers of British tourism providers out of business and Britain will lose zillions in lost visitor revenue.

The fragmented marketing of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland has put parts of Britain in direct competition with each other, rather than create a strong Brand Britain. Devolution = fragmentation.
Domestically, the same fragmented marketing of a single geographical area by the public sector has been damaging. Private empires each guarding own turf and funding source while competing with one another.

The last time Britain was rebranded in the 70s Maggi Thatcher was at the helm. During the 80s UK Tourism boomed. In the early 90s Cool Britannia heralded the mess that exists today.
Britain is in dire need of a rebranding excercise, a new logo, and private sector global marketing. Surely, what is good enough for political parties at election time, must be the best way to market Brand Britain.
Any business, let alone country that fails to take the long view and invest in its future at a time of economic difficulty is heading for skid row.

Quality in Tourism = Terminal Confusion.
Tripadvisor reviews and testimonials provide potential guests, with a far more accurate overview of standards, than the star grading system which is abused, untrustworthy and in a state of decay.
How can the customer make an informed choice, when the official inspection system ( operated by G4S) does nothing to stop star rated B&Bs, who have elected to get assessed under the less demanding guest house classification, continue to call themselves hotel. A genuine VisitBritain star assessed hotel would be a far superior place to stay in every respect.
Neither can tourists have any faith in a system that awards a Bog Standard 4* to vast majority of holiday cottages. Even worse self regulation quality assesment is gaining ground, but really bad for the future of Britain’s tourism industry.
Conclusion: The assessment star system in its current form has past its sell by date, it is unsuited to internet marketing and far too complicated to be of any value to potential guests whatsoever.

A Fix for Britain’s Tourism Industry:

Rebrand Brand Britain.
Pull the Plug on the fragmented funding for overseas marketing of Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland.
Appoint the best private sector advertising agency to market Brand Britain as a single destination.

Reform Visit Britain. Only allow tourism proffessionals a seat on VB board. Give VB a remit to be the official body responsible for the funding and running of a reduced number of more effective Tourist Information Offices. Provide TIC staff with Brand Britain logo clad uniform and retrain.

Enable the regional Destination Marketing Organizations, so that they can do the job originally envisaged, which was to be wholly responsible for the running and marketing their own branded area of Britain domestically.
Stop funding the public sector, instead fully support a single private sector led initiative that is capable of branding its own geographical area.

Introduce Summer time all year round.
Reduce VAT on accommodation & attractions.
Scrap Air Taxes.
Scrap the Visa entry rules for Chinese tourists.
Scrap the star rating assesment system.
Require anyone offering a bed for payment to be registered by law.
Fund a network of Aires.
Start network marketing with national sports teams, transport carriers, businesses etc.

Mrs. Tamara Cody-Boutcher
Winston Churchill Fellow
Robin How, Wootton Courtenay, Somerset, TA24 8RN
Tel 01643 841247

Note: I was a recipient of a Winston Churchill Travel Award which funded a 6 week stay in New Zealand during 2008 in order to study and compare both countries tourism industries and marketing.
The NZ report attatched on this website as a PDF file under Brand Britain vs Brand New Zealand WCFT report, outlines the fragmented tribal wasteful way Britain is marketed globally in comparison to New Zealand. Almost everything in that report is as relevant today. (August 2013 )

2012 Tourism Slump
Due to the dreadful wet summer, high quality wall-to-wall sports, Jubilee & Olympics, trade fell off a cliff last year. My best guess is – trade was 15% to 25% down for accommodation owners and attractions throughout Britain. 2012 was a diabolical year with potential guests haggling over already reduced rates. Weymouth Slump in Tourists BBC report

Increased taxes harm tourism
By increasing air passenger duty by 8%, which is paid by global tourists on homeward bound flights, the British government made Britain less competitive. By making tourists pay 20% VAT, Britain is also damaging compaired to lower rates charged throughout Europe. For Example 7% VAT is charged in France.

Discounted Britain
The £3m marketing campaign aimed at encouraging staycations during 2012 & 2013, would be a more effective, if aimed at attracting more visitors from overseas to come and stay in the UK.
Julia Walters advert encouraging the domestic market to holiday in Costa del Skeggi was amusing in its futility. Any Brit with 1/2 a brain cell would still jump aboard a cheap flight to sunny anywhere, rather than get an Olympic size discount from the participating accommodation or attraction owner, yet pay more when buying hot pasties, fags, booze, increased parking and transport costs while getting soaked by eternal rain.

Discounts for stay at home Brits

The proposed Troll Law ( intended to end anonymous online bullying) should be welcomed by the tourist trade if it also covers online reviews. The threat of legal action might stop people posting untruthful, damaging reviews once the accommodation provider can identify the author.

Posted March 2012:
Government Tourism Policy Released

Britain’s tourism industry will be allowed to have greater control over its own destiny.
My view: Excellent news, if it means the industry will be 100% led and marketed by professionals. And an end to policy being driven by the semi-retired from other trades, who turn into committee seat collectors sitting on time wasting Hydra like tourism meetings.
After a quick read, nothing visionary, obsolete star rating schemes left to decay, no rebranding exercise.
A missed opportunity, not a strategy for growth.
Government Tourism Policy Doc

Posted Feb 2012
: Grading Fraud Charge
An owner of a 3 star & 2 star B&B/ Hotel in Wales has been arrested by police on suspicion of fraud”
Read about it Daily Mail
My view: This should be noted by accommodation owners with out of date signs placed outside property, or/and promoting inaccurate or out dated official tourism grades and awards on brochures and websites.

Posted 17th Feb 2012: New Tourism Tsar

Victoria Beckham has been made an ambassador to promote the best of Britain throughout the world.
My view: Britain’s tourism industry requires radical reform and a good dollop of QE money for investment … not the appointment of a busy celeb without a smile.