Memorandum submitted by the English Tourism
Thank you for your letter of 6 April addressed
to our Chief Executive, Mary Lynch in whose absence and on whose
behalf, I am responding. We will, of course, be pleased to accept
your invitation to attend and give evidence to the Select Committee
on 26 April. Details of our witnesses (myself and Mary Lynch)
While we appreciate that your Committee will doubtless be well
briefed on the tourism industry, it may find the following background
statistics of interest:
In 1999, tourism in the UK was worth approximately
£64 billion (rural tourism £12 billion).
UK tourism employs 1.86 million people (380,000
jobs in rural England) and has recently accounted for around one
in four of all new jobs created.
The tourism industry in England comprises in
excess of 120,000 businesses, over 80 per cent of which employ
fewer than 10 people.
The local economic impact of tourism is very
pronounced and has a high multiplier effect. Other businesses
and suppliers heavily dependent on tourism spending include petrol
stations, laundries, food suppliers, shops, pubs and further down
the line, construction firms and financial services.
We will be happy to respond on 26 April to any
specific queries that the Committee may have. For the moment,
however, this submission, is confined to a short account of ETC's
actions and achievements since the outbreak of the crisis.
1. The English Tourism Council is represented
on a number of foot and mouth-dedicated bodies, including the
DETR's Rural Task Force, which is held on a weekly basis, and
the Secretary of State's Tourism Summit. Since meeting the Prime
Minister on 20 March, the ETC has also worked in very close, daily
liaison with the Cabinet Office.
2. At the 20 March meeting the Prime Minister
and the Secretary of State asked the ETC to create a Tourism Cabinet,
to facilitate the review of current information and co-ordinate
dissemination of messages and facts across the tourism industry.
It is chaired by the ETC and meets weekly. Membership includes
representatives from the Cabinet Office, Regional Tourist Boards,
the Local Government Association, and from commercial enterprises
and bodies such as the National Trust, Tussauds, Hoseasons and
the British Hospitality Association.
3. In order to respond to the central role
given to the ETC for the duration of the crisis, we created a
project team, located in Thames Tower, and staffed among others
by experienced tourism professionals (Elaine Noble, Tom Buncle,
Malcolm Wood) and a secondment from DCMS. This group has been
admirably supported by Regional Tourist Boards, TICs, destinations
and attractions providing, despite the very low level of IT infrastructure,
regular feedback from the front-line.
4. In fighting the negative impact of foot
and mouth on the industry, public perception is crucial. ETC commissioned
a survey of public attitudes, looking specifically at how those
attitudes might affect the public's holiday intentions. A copy
of the key findings is enclosed*. The results reflect a positive
trend. Some 81 per cent of respondents agreed that there is plenty
to do in the countryside. However, some ingrained negative perceptions
remain and need to be addressed eg the belief that visitors to
the country are likely to witness the destruction and disposal
of animals. ETC has now commissioned focus group research to understand
more about consumers' negative perceptions and to consider how
these can best be corrected.
5. ETC produces a daily briefing for opinion
formers. A copy of the most recent briefing is enclosed* and from
this you will see that the briefing contains the latest information
on facts and figures, key messages and relevant contacts.
6. ETC has prepared a Recovery Plan for
the tourism industry and this has been submitted to Government
in support of a bid for £35.5 million, being the sum estimated
as needed to carry out the recommendations contained in the plan.
Delivery will take place both at national and regional level.
Together with the Regional Tourist Boards, ETC has received £3.8
million to implement the short-term measures identified in the
plan. £1.4 million was immediately provided to Regional Tourist
7. In order to ensure that the public has
access to the latest information about what is open and what activities
they can enjoy in a particular part of the countryside, the ETC
launched on 28 March its Visitor Hotline. The hotline, operated
from a Call Centre in Chiswick, directs callers to the people
(initially the local Tourist Information Centre but latterly Regional
Tourist Boards), who can supply the most up-to-date details. The
hotline has proved very popular, with some 10,000 calls being
received during its first two weeks of operation. The hotline
is supplemented by the website, www.openbritain.gov.uk which again,
contains details of what the public can do in different parts
of the country and specifically, allows the user to access information
about some 15,000 attractions and events. The site received in
excess of one million hits in one week.
8. On 5 April, the ETC launched a national
advertising and promotional campaign, funded by part of the £3.8
million mentioned above, to encourage Easter holidaymakers to
"getaway" on holidays and trips throughout England.
The campaign emphasised that over three-quarters of visitor attractions
in England were open and that many thousands of events were taking
place. The advertising campaign will also target the two May bank
holidays. Many of the regions have also run their own regional
campaigns to encourage visitors back to the area. The campaigns
have been successful with most regions reporting that bookings
and attendance over the Easter weekend were not as poor as had
been feared. Some areas, however, reported that they had been
very badly hit, and forward bookings are very light indeed.
9. Throughout the Easter weekend, the ETC
maintained a staff at Thames Tower co-ordinating the flow of information
from Regions and tourism destinations, and meeting media requests.
Mary Lynch gave 15 interviews on Easter Saturday alone.
10. On 11 April the ETC organised and ran
a Tourism Forum, chaired by the Secretary of State, attended by
some 120 leaders of the tourism industry. The Secretary of State
took a wide-ranging series of questions from the floor in a lengthy
but very constructive session, providing an opportunity for himself
and the ETC to hear and react to concerns throughout the industry.
11. ETC has reached agreement with Tesco
and BP to distribute 500,000 leaflets through their outlets, promoting
short breaks, and featuring the Visitor Hotline number and RTB
websites. Tesco and BP have agreed to support the promotion through
550 supermarkets and 1,290 petrol stations.
12. In all this work, ETC is liasing closely
with its established partners, including the British Tourist Authority
and the Regional Tourist Boards. In turn, the RTBs are themselves
working at regional level with the Regional Development Agencies,
the National Farmers Union and MAFF.
I trust the Committee finds this information
of assistance. If you feel that any particular point requires
clarification, I will be happy to provide further details.
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