Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the North West Tourist Board

1.  Introduction to the regional tourist boards

  The role of the regional tourist boards is to promote the sustainable development and effective operation of tourism in the regions, in partnership with local authorities, the industry and regional development agencies.

2.  Funding awarded to ETC and the regional tourist boards for information and promotion in response to the FMD outbreak

  ETC were awarded £3.8 million, £1.36 of this was awarded to the RTBs as follows:









    YTB—£125,000; and


3.  Information and promotion undertaken by the North West Tourist Boards in response to the FMD outbreak

  NWTB have established a Call Centre number for consumer enquiries, which operated up to and through the Easter Weekend. We have undertaken a series of above the line advertising to motivate the consumer and give confidence that the regions were "Open" for business. In addition a major PR campaign was launched using the media, both press and television.

4.  Impact and effect of information and promotion undertaken by the North West Tourist Board in response to the FMD outbreak

  Hundreds of calls were made by the public to the regional Call Centre number, where accurate, up-to-date information was given by trained staff. Visitor attractions had a brisk weekend trade, which was sorely needed. Concerns however, are for the future. The low level of forward bookings being experienced by the accommodation sector, shows that there is much work to do in re-establishing confidence.

5.  Issues for the Committee's consideration

  There is no government funding to the English Tourism Council and therefore, the regional tourist boards to support marketing. In contrast, both the Wales Tourist Board and Scotland Tourist Board and Northern Ireland Tourist Board receives significant government funding from the respective devolved administrations for marketing and promotion.

  Funds for marketing are generated by the regional tourist boards themselves, through promotions, including brochures, which are supported by commercial advertising. This limits the scale and scope of tourism promotion: for example, major consumer advertising campaigns and PR campaigns cannot usually be undertaken because funding from tourism businesses is not available for generic campaigns.

  This deficiency in marketing funding for England has been highlighted by the foot and mouth disease outbreak. The regional tourist boards have had to respond very quickly to the need to provide information and advice for tourism businesses, and information for visitors about where to visit.

  The Tourist Information Centre Network, has performed well in keeping abreast of the demands from the consumer, for information. The level of ICT infrastructure investment is however varied and thus making comprehensive data provision very difficult.

  The regional tourist boards have risen to the challenge—but.

  The lack of ICT infrastructure nationally and regionally has made information provision awkward and not easily managed.

  Lack of marketing/PR staff has necessitated outsourcing a good deal of work, which properly resourced would have made the messages clearer.

  The impact of FMD on tourism businesses will affect the ability of the regional tourist boards to raise revenue for marketing this year. The industry will not have the funds to partake of marketing activities. Attractions also will not have the resources to take part in the national quality assessment scheme and accommodation will withdraw from the Accommodation Inspection Scheme. The long-term effects of this would be reductions in the quality offered and a downward spiral in our competitiveness. Subsidies have already been announced for Scottish businesses.

  England is losing its market share and the tourism deficit is growing.

  There is a need for long-term investment in English tourism, especially the reinstatement of funding for marketing. England is losing its market share and the tourism deficit will continue to grow, if we are not in a position to deliver a comprehensive recovery plan for the industry.

April 2001

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