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


Memorandum submitted by the Tourism Management Institute


  1.1  The Tourism Management Institute (TMI) is the professional institute for tourism destination managers, with over 200 active members throughout the United Kingdom. Membership ranges from Tourist Information Centre staff to public sector tourism managers in local authorities, Regional and National Tourist Boards, as well as attraction operators, and includes as Commercial Affiliates a number of companies which provide services to tourism managers such as tourism consultants and specialist advertising and marketing companies.

  1.2  The Institute represents the views of practising tourism destination managers at regional, national and international level, and has regular liaison meetings with the English Tourism Council, British Tourist Authority and the domestic tourism unit of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

  1.3  The TMI has carried out a brief survey of its members, asking them what they are currently doing to address the situation, what future plans they have and what concerns they have about the recovery process. The responses relating to provision of tourist information and promotion of destinations are summarised in the following paragraphs, together with a note of some concerns relating to the medium and long-term funding of this activity and suggestions/recommendations for action.


  2.1  Most TMI members who have responded to the brief survey are concerned with the immediate need to retain/recapture the domestic markets which form the majority of their visitors. They are therefore concentrating their energies on domestic promotion and believe the British Tourist Authority is best placed in the short term to convey the message that Britain is not closed, there is plenty to see and do. Nevertheless, many have expressed deep concern at the images being portrayed in the media, and the confusion and ignorance displayed in overseas markets, which is leading to a significant downturn in overseas business.

  2.2  In the medium term, destinations which proactively seek inbound business will be participating in British Tourist Authority trade missions to regenerate interest and commitment among overseas buyers. Brighton has specifically postponed planned overseas consumer campaigns, on the advice of the British Tourist Authority, and is focussing on media work, with journalism visits from Netherlands and France in April and May and the longer term travel trade business.

  2.3  In the longer term, the TMI believes a fresh start is necessary, with local produce, local and organic production, the celebration of regional diversity and local distinctiveness, green, clean countryside to the fore. It is also suggested that benchmarking at national and international level should be used to identify positives and build a data bank to counter negative perceptions.


  3.1  TMI members in local authorities, sub regional and country organisations or Regional Tourist Boards, are actively involved in the collation and dissemination of information as to the open or closed status of visitor attractions and facilities in their locality. This is regardless of the type of destination—rural, market town, coastal resort or city.

  3.2  Nearly all members who responded have referred to increased enquiries being handled by TICs, and to the important role TICs are playing in both collecting and disseminating information for visitors and feeding that information back through the regional and national networks.

    —  In Sussex, TICs have co-ordinated details of local attractions which are open in the area and amended the relevant web sites such as VisitBritain.

    —  Hull has increased Tourist Information Centre (TIC) opening hours to ensure telephone cover on Sundays to handle enquiries.

    —  Clacton TIC is making all customers aware of the East of England Tourist Board web site and information line telephone number, and holds a regularly updated reference copy of information on attractions open/closed, keeping in regular touch with local tourism providers to ensure accuracy.

  3.3  All members who responded and who already have web sites are ensuring that information on attractions and facilities is posted on the site and regularly updated. Worcestershire County Council wrote to all tourist accommodation providers, eating places (mainly pubs) and attractions asking for their status (open, open with restrictions, closed) and has put the resulting information on two websites— and—with permission for the information to appear on numerous other sites.

  3.4  Similarly, all members who have responded have referred to the use of e-mail and/or extranets for the dissemination of information between TICs, local, sub regional and regional and national tourism organisations. Where TICs do not have an e-mail connection, the dissemination of information becomes cumbersome, reliant on fax machines or first class post.

  3.5  TICs are the frontline service for delivering information to visitors and residents, and in encouraging both to visit those attractions and facilities which are open. TMI believes the national network must be supported and strengthened by bringing forward the development of a national TIC extranet, connecting up those TICs which do not yet have ICT facilities.


  4.1  The majority of TMI members are supportive of the national and regional campaigns intended to get the message across that there is much available to see and do. They believe this crisis has underlined the need for the ETC's remit to be extended to include a national PR role and to work with Regional Tourist Boards and others to develop a marketing strategy for England.

  4.2  TMI members throughout the country are producing their own poster campaigns, taking advertising and promoting as many positive stories as possible to their local and regional media. Plymouth, for example, has brought forward production of a discount voucher leaflet in conjunction with attractions and retailers which was launched on Thursday 12 April (Press Release attached at Appendix 1[1]). Others, such as Eastbourne, are producing leaflets outlining walks which do not pass through affected areas.

  4.3  Others, whilst supportive of the immediate campaigns, are bringing forward short break campaigns for the Whit and pre-school holiday period to try to boost falling bookings for this normally busy period. Cheshire is planning both a short breaks campaign and a day visitor campaign incorporating print, web site and direct mail. Darlington were already planning a short breaks campaign in partnership with local trade and are now investigating ways to extend that campaign.

  4.4  A number of members have raised concerns about the commitment to fund both the national campaigns and complementary regional, sub regional and local campaigns in the medium and longer term, once the immediate crisis is behind us. Several respondents have indicated that they are bringing forward monies earmarked for other purposes later in the financial year to fund the measures to deal with the immediate short-term situation, or are asking elected members to allocate additional funding. However, local authority and regional tourist board funds are finite. Many local authority tourism budgets have come under severe pressure in the recent past and now rely to a greater or lesser extent upon advertising or other participatory income from precisely those tourism businesses which are being hit by the current crisis to fund major promotional campaigns.

  4.5  In responding to the survey, therefore, TMI members have underlined the significance of tourism as part of the local authority function, whether directly through tourism development and promotion or indirectly through provision of other services such as economic regeneration (business support and advice), car parks, town centre management, the public rights of way network and countryside services, as well as leisure service provision. They seek a commitment from central Government to allocate additional funding to ensure that the vital role of local government in the medium and long-term promotion of the United Kingdom as a destination is not undermined.

  4.6  A number of TMI members have remarked upon the disparity of Government support to the Scottish and Welsh Tourist Boards and the English Tourism Council in response to the current crisis. Scotland has committed an additional £5 million for immediate tourism marketing, compared to the £3.5 million provided to the English Tourism Council, which when shared out to the regions amounts to, for example, £70,000 for the Northumbria region, only one tenth of the funding needed for an effective regional campaign. The TMI therefore calls upon the Government to continue and increase its financial support to the English Tourism Council, and through it, the Regional Tourist Boards, to sustain and develop tourism marketing through what will be a three to five year recovery phase.


  5.1  The Tourism Management Institute recommends the following actions:

    —  once the disease is eradicated, a fresh start campaign to promote England overseas;

    —  use of benchmarking to identify positives for that campaign;

    —  government support for the strengthening of the national TIC network and national ICT framework;

    —  government commitment and support to ensure that local authority budgets, and specifically tourism budgets, are at least safeguarded and preferably increased to enable them to deliver tourism promotion and information services in the vital medium and long-term recovery phases;

    —  the extension of English Tourism Council's remit to include a national PR role and the development of a national marketing strategy; and

    —  Government commitment to increased funding of the English Tourism Council for the next three to five years.

April 2001

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