15 Nov 2011

The Future of UK Tourism: Developing the Visitor Economy

There may be trouble ahead!
A forum to understand the implications of the new government tourism strategy in boosting the tourist industry is to be held at the Strand Palace Hotel in London on 7th December 2011. 

But the private sector are not invited!


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.

It is intended that the audience will include "tourist boards, local enterprise partnerships, destination management organisations, local authority leaders, local strategic partnerships, cultural entitlement officers, heads of sustainable tourism, directors of regional development agencies, regeneration developers, sports officers, local authority directors responsible for culture, leisure, regeneration, heritage, tourism and communities, town centre and tourism partnerships, town and rural planners, historic town forum members, tourist information centres, arts and cultural providers."

This list was taken from the InsideGovernment website but for some reason does not include the Private Sector. This is a shame because David Cameron himself recognised in his Tourism Speech the need to "stimulate the private sector" and that "When we talk of the tourist industry it’s mostly in the private sector."

This for me is key: the tourism industry IS the private sector - it is the 200,000 or so businesses whose livelihoods totally depend upon tourism.

However even though the private sector is excluded from the list when you look at the BOOK TODAY page a Private Sector ticket is available for this event priced at £495.

When this forum and the price to attend was announced Twitter revealed some interesting private sector perspectives:


As the Inside Government website states "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."

Partnership working will be difficult to achieve if the public sector need a private sector contribution of £495 for something they are already paying for in the way of taxes etc. And localism begins on the ground, with the private sector within the destinations.

Or have I completely missed the point?

Please feel free to comment.

PS I also posted this on a LinkedIn group and following my last question about missing the point was reminded that "the forum is not being organised by government (or any other part of the public sector) but by a private company called Inside Government. This company makes its money by organising events (on a vast range of topics) which it hopes will be of interest to the public sector. No decisions get taken at any of these events: They are just about sharing information and keeping policy makers informed of recent developments and initiatives."

My response included: "I am concerned that all of the key issues being addressed within this forum are not being made directly to industry by Government.

Why should one part of the public sector 'need' to pay to find out what another part of the public sector should be making available to all as a matter of course?

If this is information that is useful, relevant and timely to the sector and is ready to be released then, in my opinion, it should be."