UK Tourism Policy and the 2015 General Election

As the 2015 general election in the UK draws nearer, the tourism industry will look with interest to the manifestos of the major parties to see whether tourism gets a mention.   Despite none of the parties mentioning tourism in their manifestos for the election in 2010, tourism was the subject of one of the first policy statements by our Prime Minister, David Cameron, in August 2010.

uk tourism image

I posted a series of blog posts in the run up to the publication of the 2011 UK Tourism Policy, which you can read herehere and here. In these posts, I suggested that the government needed to develop a serious industrial policy for tourism, cut VAT on tourism, invest in skills development and education for tourism professionals and create tourism enterprise zones. Over the last few years, I’ve written (mostly with my colleague Dr Samantha Chaperon) a few papers that evaluate the UK Government’s recent approach to the tourism industry along similar lines.

In 2010, we published this paper on the prospects for English Seaside Towns in the context of the closing down of the Regional Development Agencies and their replacement by new Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). We concluded that the LEPs did not place sufficient emphasis on tourism and that they did not recognize the challenges to developing seaside towns associated with their peripheral locations.

In 2013, we published this paper critiquing the UK Government’s 2011 Tourism Policy. In the paper we outlined the major changes that had taken place in the governance and public funding of tourism following the publication of this policy and suggested that the policy did not offer a clear vision of how the government would support the industry in a period of public sector austerity.

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Click on this image to read the current UK tourism policy

Also in 2013, I published this paper, which reviewed the tourism policies of successive UK Governments from 1997-2010 in terms of their relationship to local economic development. This paper shows that, although the current government’s tourism policy continues with many of the assumptions of previous policies about the links between tourism and economic development, it does introduce some new thinking that may create an environment in which the tourism industry can contribute to local economic development.

Thanks to pressure from industry groups such as the Tourism Society, British Hospitality Association and the Campaign to Cut Tourism VAT, it is likely that all of the main political parties in the UK will make statements about the plans for tourism in the run up to the general election.

I think the chances of tourism making it into the published manifestos are pretty slim – tourism isn’t really a doorstep issue. However, we should expect to hear something like this statement from the Labour Party from all of their rivals over the next few months. As they do so, I’ll be reviewing them on this blog and trying to get a sense of what the post-election tourism landscape will look like.

Implementing the Witty Review: Universities and Economic Development

I”ve been invited to chair this Inside Government event on 21st January 2014.  ‘Implementing the Witty Review: One Year On’, looks like a very interesting event and, as always with Inside Government events, there is a great range of speakers lined up.

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Click this image to read Sir Andrew Witty’s report

I’ve been to a couple of Inside Government events and I spoke at one back in 2012, when I gave this presentation on tourism and local economic development. They tend to keep their events quite small, for around 50 delegates, and this means that there is lots of scope for meeting people and getting involved in discussions.  In my work with the Economic Development Resource Centre at the University of Greenwich, I’ve been involved for a few years in linking academics to public and private sector organisations seeking to promote economic development and I’m very much looking forward to learning from the other participants in this event in January.

 

Crossovers seed-funding competition 2013

Over the last few months in EDReC, we’ve been working with Arts Council England South-East on a project called Crossovers.  The project aimed to explore new relationships between culture, tourism and economic development.  In the Spring, we’ll be publishing a report on the ‘cultural visitor economy’ (CVE).

We held a conference in September 2012 and one of the things that happened on the day was that participants came up with new project ideas – we agreed to seed-fund two of them.

One of the Crossovers logos
One of the Crossovers logos

This year we’re offering two more grants of £1,500 to new projects in the south-east of England that address our key themes: culture, the visitor economy and economic development.

Do you have an idea for a new creative project in the visitor economy?

Have you been thinking about how to bring more tourists to your area using the arts?

Have you been discussing how your cultural project can contribute to your local economy?

We want to see this money being used to kick start innovative projects in the south-east of England.  We don’t want to give you a burden of paperwork that takes up your time when you could be busier doing more creative, effective things.

Using funding from Arts Council England South East, we’ve created a process in which you can enter the competition quickly, with the minimum of form filling, and then, if you win, you can get on with getting your project going.

Here’s how you enter:

Fill in this form

Return it, by email to j.s.kennell@gre.ac.uk by the 1st February 2013

We will make a decision about the two projects that best help us to support new relationships between tourism, culture and economic development in the south-east, and we’ll announce this on 11th February.

 

Tourism and Local Economic Development: ITSA presentation

The ITSA conference venue

This is the presentation that I gave at the 4th Biennial International Tourism Studies Association conference in Indonesia last month.  It was broadly based on this paper about Tourism and Local Economic Development in England.  I’m planning to carry out some interviews with LEP representatives, local authorities and tourism businesses this year and to write-up the whole thing as a journal article in early 2013.

Some conferences give you certificates, but this mask is my favourite ever conference gift

Tourism and Local Economic Development in the UK

 Recently, I’ve been working on this topic as part of my work with the Economic Development Resource Centre.  Below are a presentation I gave at an Inside Government event on the visitor economy and the paper that supports it, which was published in the proceedings of the 13th International Research and Practice Conference of the Russian State University for Tourism and Service, ‘Tourism and Service: Education, Challenges and Prospects’, 28th October 2011.

The Future of UK Tourism: Developing the Visitor Economy

I’ll be speaking at this Inside Government event on 7th December in London.  My talk will examine the links between economic development and tourism in the UK, in the context of the economic crisis.  Click on the image below to go straight to the event booking page which has a list of all the invited speakers.  I’ve copied some of the information about what looks to be an excellent day underneath.

Tourism is essential to Britain’s economy. Government statistics show that tourism generates £97 billion each year, employs over 3 million people and supports thousands of businesses. The government aims to help tourism achieve its potential as a central part of Britain’s growth strategy.

Britain’s landmarks, monuments, countryside and culture attract visitors from all over the world. Major international events such as the Royal Wedding, Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games provide a great opportunity to boost tourism, showcasing what Britain has to offer, and created a sustained tourism legacy.

Developing the visitor economy is a priority for the coalition government. The Government Tourism Policy, published in March 2011, aims to harness the potential this area holds to grow Britain’s economy. Objectives include growing the overseas market across the country using London 2012 and other sporting and cultural events, strengthening the domestic tourism market, increasing private sector investment and increasing flexibility for local tourist organisations. There is also a focus on improving Britain’s international gateways and national transport infrastructure.

The tourism strategy is driven by a local agenda. Destination Management Organisations will work with Visit England, local authorities, local enterprise partnerships, and local businesses to regenerate and market their area in the most effective way.

A £100 million partnership marketing fund, co-funded by the government and the private sector, will aim to draw 4 million extra visitors to Britain over the next 4 years, which equates to a £2 billion spend for Britain’s economy, and 50,000 new jobs. The government has also announced the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), worth £1.4 billion, which supports projects that use private sector investment to create regional economic growth and employment.

Agenda

This forum comes at a time of exciting growth for the sector, and will offer delegates the opportunity to understand the implications of the new government tourism strategy in boosting the tourist industry. Key issues to be discussed include strategies for promoting the growth of the visitor economy, and best practice for delivering services, partnership working and localism.

Speakers include representatives of:

Department for Culture Media and Sport

Visit Britain

ABTA

Olympic Park Legacy Company

People 1st

National Trust

Broads Authority

British Library

Marketing Birmingham

 

*photo courtesy of Chris Campbell: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cgc/

Economic Insurgency – paper for the Future Cities 2011 conference

Graham Symon and I have had an abstract accepted for a paper we will present at the Future Cities 2011 conference, being held in London on 15th & 16th December this year.  The paper builds on an idea that came from some work  on localism we were doing earlier in the year for the Economic Development Resource Centre, in which we suggested that an economic insurgency was one potential outcome of a radical localism in economic development.  The full abstract is below:

How low can it go?  The devolution of economic development and the possibility of economic insurgency

This presentation provides a critique of the UK Government’s policies and plans for devolving economic development processes from the regional to the local and neighbourhood levels.  Drawing on economic development theory and experiences from Europe, Latin America, the United States and Japan, radical approaches to economic development are reviewed that suggest possibilities for innovative approaches to the problems of economic development in the cities of the UK.

International examples show that alternative models are available for growing the economies of our cities and towns that have the character of a challenging, bottom-up insurgency – a stark contrast to the conservative models of growth being offered by the new Local Enterprise Partnerships and Government departments[1].  In an economic insurgency, traditional, hierarchical institutions and frameworks come under attack from below as new economies take shape and start to re-shape places from within.  

Following the financial crisis of 2008, Western governments have struggled to develop consistently successful responses to stimulating sustainable growth in post-crash economies[2].  In the UK, the Government’s ‘local growth’ white paper appeared to promote a return to pre-crash methods of top-down economic development with an increased role for the private sector, despite the rhetorical references to a ‘new localism’[3] and economic ideas of subsidiarity and sustainability.[4] However, despite these contradictions, recent Government espousals have the potential to create an environment in which more radical approaches to economic development are becoming possible.  This presentation argues that an economic insurgency is a necessary next step in local economic development in the UK.


[1] Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2010) Local Growth,London: HMSO

[2] Florida, R. (2010) The Great Reset: how new ways of living and working drive post-crash prosperity, New York: Harper Collins

[3] Bentley, G., Bailley, D. & Shutt, J. (2010) From RDAs to LEPs: A New Localism? Case Examples of West Midlands and Yorkshire in Local Economy, Vol. 25, No.7, pp. 535-537

[4] Schumacher, E.F. (1973/1993) Small is beautiful: a study of economics as if people mattered,London: Vintage

Seaside towns and Local Enterprise Partnerships: paper

Our paper on seaside towns and local enterprise partnerships has just been published in the proceedings of the 2010 ATHE conference.  Click here to go to the ATHE website where you order a copy of the proceedings.  The abstract is below:

Despite their huge popularity as holiday destinations, seaside towns have generally been under-researched. Existing research is limited to narrow historical perspectives and is often focused at a regional level. British seaside towns have suffered a significant decline but there is little attention given to how contemporary issues are likely to shape their futures. For this paper, a sample of British seaside towns that form part of the newly approved Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are analysed to identify how these new governance arrangements are likely to affect future development in these areas. Core-periphery theory (CPT) is used as a framework within which to analyse these  arrangements and to identify potential problems and obstacles.  Analysis reveals significant governance issues for seaside towns in terms of structural inequalities and relationships of dependency. The LEPs do not adequately recognise the peripheral nature of seaside towns and the special conditions needed for their development. There is a reliance on outdated growth models and there is a lack of innovation in their approach. From a CPT perspective, the new LEPs do not seem to provide a brighter future for the development of seaside towns.

Seaside towns and Local Enterprise Partnerships

This is a copy of a presentation that myself and a colleague, Samantha Chaperon, were due to give at the ATHE 2010 conference last week. Sadly the weather conspired against us, but the organisers have been kind enough to let us submit the full paper for the proceedings, which I will post a link to here in Spring 2011 once they have been published.