Cornwall Tourism Summit presentations
Delegates to the Cornwall Tourism Summit, organised by Visit Cornwall, were treated to inspiring presentations from a number of experts in the tourism sector - here's what they had to say...
Sally Balcombe, CEO of Visit Britain and Visit England
Sally said: “You’ve all seen the headlines [Staycation boom in Brexit Britain]. Journalists said it’s all about currency; it’s a bit more complicated than that.”
According to VisitEngland’s Trip Tracker research, there were ten drivers for taking more domestic holidays this year. Top of the list (40 per cent) was that brits ‘just like taking breaks in the UK’, followed by ‘these breaks are more convenient’ (36 per cent). The ‘drop in the exchange rate following Brexit’ was in ninth place at 14 per cent, well below great British weather, concerns about international terrorism and the expense of foreign breaks.
“I think you all know that anecdotally you all had a tremendous summer,” said Sally. “And it’s not all about the exchange rate. It’s very clear that other factors are in play.” She added that, in fact, domestic breaks have been back on the rise since 2014 (following a dip after the staycation boom in 2009).
Bernard Donoghue, Chairman of Tourism Alliance
Bernard said: Brexit had had a positive effect: “We saw an inbound increase of 18 per cent and a domestic increase of 21 per cent”.
But he said he had “real concerns” over the status and importance of EU workers in the UK over the coming years. “UK tourism wouldn’t work if it wasn’t for EU migrant workers across the UK, full stop,” he said. “92% of the UK workforce for Café Rouge and Pret a Manger are EU migrant workers. They told me: ’In two years if we can’t employ those people we’re stuffed.’ So to ensure that we can still employ people at the value and the volume is one of our key primary concerns.”
Bernard had a message for all tourism destinations, saying those which performed well in the last four years were refreshing (their offering) and enticing (audiences) in new and exciting ways; they were focusing on an ‘authentic sense of place’ as well as ’staff not stuff.’ He said: “They’ll come because of what you’ve got, but they’ll come back because of who you employ — the best memories are of people not objects.”
Amanda Burns, Head of Marketing at GWR
Amanda said: £7.5bn of rail investment was coming to the UK by 2019 and that, with the ‘electrification’ of the network, with new hybrid (electric/diesel) Hitachi trains there would be more seats, a better service, shorter journey times and 26 per cent more capacity — 1,000 more seats every day.
She also added that Cornwall’s rail network had seen a five per cent increase in passenger numbers year-on-year, every year since 2010 thanks to its £36m investments within the county since 2000, which has led to a 140 per cent increase in rail passengers overall. By the end of 2017, she said, Cornwall would also benefit from an upgrade to the Night Riviera Sleeper service between Penzance and London. Amanda added that GWR would continue to promote and support Cornwall both locally and nationally, as it has done throughout 2016.
Roger Pride, Managing Partner at Heavenly
Roger said: tourism businesses need to come up with “ideas for an impatient world clearly, quickly and cleverly” if they want to compete with the consumer’s dwindling attention span.
He said: “We are now creators [of information], not just consumers. We live our lives through mobile devices and we are all putting our opinions out there and questioning authority. Travellers are more savvy, they have more information, and they are more aware of what is good and bad and where to find that info.
“Because of that one size can no longer fit all. The age of mass market tourism is no longer with us. We have to ensure that we make an offer that is authentic and tailored, not just to market segments, but to individuals.”
Malcolm Bell, CEO of Visit Cornwall
Malcolm said: 2015/16 had been a “monumental” year. Presenting the first public figures since it became a privately-owned organisation in April 2015, he said he was “proud” of its digital activity, PR and marketing with a much-reduced budget and a smaller team.
He said Visit Cornwall’s website traffic had grown 20 per cent year-on-year and that he was expecting a further 10 per cent growth this year: “To give you an idea, our page views last year were 15 million, VisitBritain had 22m, so we punch up there really strong.”
Addressing the conference in an afternoon session, he announced a ‘Cornwall’s Best For Less’ campaign to promote the county during poorly-performing months: “We need more visitors in May, June and early July. As good marketeers we can get that business, we just need to change our messaging — we need to convince the British that summer starts in May, not when the schools break up in July.”
Holger Lenz, Visit Britain Manager Central Europe
Holger said: Germany is the third most valuable margin in spend behind the US and France; its economy is solid, unemployment is at a record low and consumer spending is high. He added that they are now “nervous” of visiting big cities, due to security risks, and are looking for rural, green destinations.
“It’s not just Rosamunde Pilcher that makes Cornwall attractive for Germans, it’s the combination of coastline, cliffs, walking (a national pastime), cycling and extreme sports; the gardens (a huge interest), little villages and historic towns,” he said. “Cornwall has a great mix of all this.”
But he added that there was a bit of education needed around geography: “A bit of a problem is that a lot of Germans think that the whole of the South West is Cornwall, or even the whole of the south of England. In contrast, no-one knows Devon at all.”
Beth Hogben, Creative England
Julia Hughes, Visit Cornwall