Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
THURSDAY 26 APRIL 2001
80. Are you getting clear messages about what
you can pass on to customers who want to visit and to the businesses
within your area so that, for example, if you take outdoor centres
that could be open but within an infected area. You cannot go
on the footpaths but they have their own climbing wall; they have
access to a lake; you can do all sorts of things. Have you had
a problem with the mixed messages that have come and what have
you done to put that right? How do you tell the public or the
people who are going to be using the outdoor centres?
(Ms Broatch) I need to talk about the
scale of foot and mouth in Cumbria because I am talking about
42 per cent of the national cases. We have more than the next
five in total numbers of the other local authorities. You have
to appreciate the scale of the problem and the obvious immediacy
there has been in terms of getting a grip of the disease. There
have been issues about the advice we have had and the speed of
that advice. I would stress in that context trying to deal with
what I think is a very significant problem in Cumbria. Some 01.75
million animals have been slaughtered, so a significant problem
in terms of scale. In that context, very early on, 20 March, we
set up a restrictions review team in which the Cumbria Tourist
Board, MAFF, some of these big land owners, the Lake District
National Park and others are involved. We have produced some guidelines
which MAFF are happy with in terms of risk assessment. We worked
very hard leading up to Easter to get the 100 or so footpaths
open. We advertised that extensively in terms of producing that
information, getting it out to tourist information centres and
in the local press. We had a lot of cooperation from the local
81. What was the response? Did you find that
people knew about it?
(Ms Broatch) Our only appraisal of that
response is that this was up to Easter and, as you will have seen
in our evidence, there was certainly an improvement at Easter
time. That improvement does not seem to be sustaining in terms
of the evidence we have now. I was in the Lake District at Easter
obviously as a local and there was a significant number of people
there. There are still an awful lot of places, I am afraid, that
are closed because we are still in a situation where we have a
significant number of cases. 98 per cent of Cumbria now is an
82. I went to Cumbria just as Easter was finishing
and then I went to Torquay. In Cumbria, the main problem, because
it was heaving where I was, round the lakes was doing very well
indeed and then it went completely dead straight afterwards, but
I met with three different sets of hoteliers. They said that their
main concern was from here on the overseas market had collapsed.
One had 14 Americans; he should have had 40. Another said a whole
coach, which would be 40, I suppose, of Japanese had now cancelled.
This seemed to be the theme throughout and yet they were struggling
to get the hoteliers to meet together. They were doing it themselves
because nobody had had the initiative to actually do this. What
is the organisation in Cumbria? How do you contact the BTA, for
(Mr Stephens) The tourism industry is
composed of some 4,000 businesses in Cumbria. The Cumbria Tourist
Board has 2,000 commercial members and we undertake a range of
marketing and development services and policy advice. A small
team of about 15 professionals is trying to service 2,000 businesses.
At a regional level, the industry were the only people, until
recently, that invested in marketing. There was only private sector
funding going into marketing. There is a hierarchy of marketing
service providers from the local authorities who operate the tourist
information centres, who produce local information and guides.
Then at a Cumbria level, Cumbria Tourist Board produce a successful
visitor guide, web site and undertake a wide range of consumer
and trade related promotional activities.
83. The web site goes to the Samaritans as well,
does it not?
(Mr Stephens) It does link, yes, at the
moment. The next layer up is our work with England's North Country
Consortium to reach overseas markets. We clearly do not have enough
in our marketing budgets to be able to access overseas markets.
We rely on a partnership approach to build up the funds so that
a targeted marketing effort can happen in the north.
84. That is one of your black holes.
(Mr Stephens) Yes.
85. You need more resources to get that going
(Mr Stephens) Absolutely. Our overseas
marketing effort amounts to about £50,000 a year.
86. That is ridiculous. What about Devon? I
talked to the hoteliers there. They have the same problem with
overseas visitors cancelling.
(Mr Bell) Again, it is very much based
on the industry and the local authorities contributing. In Devon,
we have the near markets of Devon and Cornwall working together
in Devon and Cornwall Overseas Marketing Consortium which is the
regional boards, the local authorities, to market the near markets.
That is the northern European market. Again, that has only been
possible through the use of European structural funds. It is still
nothing of significance. This is one of the problems we have in
promotion with some of the various lack of resources. The vast
majority of promotion goes on to attracting back repeat customers,
a sort of closed loop between local authorities and boards. If
you do not have sufficient marketing clout, you concentrate on
keeping your loyal customers. That is working very well in lots
of ways with satisfaction levels of 95-plus per cent. My worry
is that that satisfaction level is too high. We need to be getting
new customers from abroad and also new short break customers from
the United Kingdom.
87. When did you last put the case to the Government
or to anybody in government for more finance to come to you from
whatever source to promote overseas trade?
(Mr Bell) I think it probably happens
every time we get a government official or ministerial visit.
88. MAFF seems to have been hopelessly at sea
on this because tourism seems to have been put into a corner.
Suddenly, they were awakened but it was weeks afterwards. What
is your feeling about MAFF? I think they have been pretty hopeless
on the whole situation as regards tourism.
(Mr Bell) You do not know what you have
got until you have lost it. That is a message for tourism in the
rural area. The second message is that in a rural or regional
economy the relationship between the countryside and the environment
and tourism is absolutely essential. I know that sounds so obvious,
but to answer your question MAFF went on a one objective agenda,
which was the eradication of foot and mouth and containment. That
was taken on the one objective of eradication of foot and mouth,
not looking at the collateral damage to industries like tourism.
I would hope that one message is that when you look to take on
one objective you also check what will be the other consequences
and balance actions accordingly.
89. I was in Aldburgh over the Easter weekend
and I met the East of England Tourist Board chief executive. She
told me that although there was a £4 billion turnover in
the east of England, bigger than Scotland, but there is no marketing
budget. I fell from the chair. I cannot believe it. What is your
marketing budget for the South West Tourism Board?
(Mr Bell) Around £390,000.
90. What is it worth in the south GDP tourism?
(Mr Bell) It is over ten per cent and
is worth £5.7 million.
91. You have less than two per cent on marketing?
(Mr Bell) No.
92. 0.5 per cent?
(Mr Bell) Probably 0.002. I would not
like to work it out quickly.
93. What is the point of you being in your job?
You have a market. You need a massive budget. In this current
situation, you probably need 20 or 30 times.
(Mr Bell) We have looked seriously at
it and I do ask that question quite frequently. I think a tourist
board, if it has not got a strong marketing function, is a donut
organisation. What people expect at the heart of a tourist body
is marketing; then product development, research, training and
all the things around the outside of it, which is what we do.
The essence is that the policy has been that England and the regions
have been able to market themselves by raising funds from the
industry. If you do that, you do end up with small marketing budgets.
Although it is a £5.7 million industry, it is run by small
business. My argument would be is that if there is a £5.7
million industry run by 20 businesses, you would not need regional
tourist boards, because they would look after that new marketing
effort. Our role is to try to get those new customers and bring
them in. I can only agree that it is totally due to lack of resources.
94. Does tourism south west belong to the south
(Mr Bell) Their role is very positive
on the tourism development side of this, but it has gone straight
up to the top of their agenda and they have been very supportive,
finding ways to help us tackle this crisis.
95. That is by accident. In the east of England
they have tourism; where I am in the south-east they do not. Is
tourism in the RDA or not?
(Mr Bell) It is, yes. It has changed
from priorities into actions.
96. None of you has asked us to take a VAT holiday.
Is it right that VAT is 17.5 per cent but in Europe it is between
five and eight per cent on all aspects of tourism?
(Ms Broatch) We have put forward a range
of fiscal recommendations to the rural task force, including that
proposal. I am sorry we have not mentioned that but our assumption
was that they were already on the table. We have a range of measures
like VAT which we feel would certainly help enable our tourism
sector to survive in order to then recover and regenerate.
97. What do you recommend on VAT alone?
(Ms Broatch) I honestly cannot recall
the detail of that but there was a range of fiscal measures put
by the Cumbria foot and mouth task force in front of your own
rural task force.
(Mr Jenkinson) Devon have adopted a very
similar stance and suggested that we should have similar benefits
to the people on the continent.
98. Mr Stephens, you mentioned about the oil
idea. One of the problems is that tourism will slip between the
crack in the door and you will not notice it has gone. If you
notice it now, you will not notice it next year or the year after,
but the problem will be how much do we give now. Next year you
will say, "It is just as bad this year", as it might
be. This might be a three or four year thing before it rights
itself. Have you any thoughts on that to help us fight for more
money for you?
(Mr Stephens) There was obviously a problem
with the Pembrokeshire case, with the claims taking so long to
process. What has been suggested is some sort of up front, interim
payment and then an assessment being undertaken by accountants
and professionals, to be taken over a longer period and adjustment
in the future at some point. The issue really is about special
circumstances in these most affected areas, because it is wiping
out huge areas. There is no business at all in north Cumbria,
which prior to this crisis was a growing tourism area. Similarly,
most farm tourism and farm attractions just do not function at
the moment. If we can look at the most worthy and narrow down
those that require assistance, it may be more manageable in that
99. Fortunately in Dorset we do not have foot
and mouth, and long may that continue, but there was an initiative
introduced in the county a couple of weeks ago in which I participated
between the county council, the district councils, the NFU, chambers
of trade and all other interested organisations, to try and at
least start singing off the same hymn sheet about what we need
to promote, how we go forward. There were mixed messages even
in Dorset about what was going to happen, what could happen, what
was open, what was not open, and I think we took a great step
forward by putting out a joint statement saying, "This is
what we are trying to achieve", and took the political spin
out of the situation, bearing in mind there are county council
elections coming up and people are posturing and you cannot avoid
that. Do you think the situation across the country is so unique
in each area that there cannot be a national approach?
(Ms Broatch) From our point of view the
scale in Cumbria is such that we want to be part of a national
approach but we think we are in very special circumstances. We
are so badly affected by FMD, we are so dependent on countryside
tourism and the interdependency between tourism and agriculture
is significant. It goes back in part to the point we were making
earlier, there is some immediate action which needs to be taken
but in Cumbria what we need to be doing is taking this and looking
for where there is some silver lining. Our view on that is that
will be modernising our rural economy because we will not have
much of a rural economy left. It goes back to the point made earlier,
what does that mean for agriculture, re-engineering agriculture,
but also what does it mean for the regeneration of tourism, the
quality of product in Cumbria, ICT. In Cumbria we have massive
parts which are not even able to access broad band technology,
so we have to think about the electronic market place, how future
supply relationships might work, how tourism might be affected.
So we have a number of ideas which we are currently working on
up to a recovery plan which we have put forward to the Rural Task
Force. It is very much about modernising our economy. I think
that is what we see we can do if there is anything which is going
to come out of this. Linking back to what you are saying, we feel
that connects very clearly into the Rural White Paper, into European
policy about rural funding, and what we want to do is trail-blaze
some of that, to get fast-tracking of the funding, get some of
the bureaucracy out of the way, to get the scale of funding reviewed
in the light of the Cumbrian situation, to enable us to take some
advantage out of the situation. I think you are right, some of
these short-term measures will keep us going, they will not necessarily
help us in year two and year three, and it is that we are working
on as well.
(Mr Bell) There has to be some work done
nationally, obviously, because the British people have gone off,
and also internationally, to bring the customers back. One lot
of promotion can benefit some people and hurt others. One of the
things we brought out before Easter was a publication in the South
West, about 16 pagesI have some spare copiescalled
West Country Now, and if you look at that it is a very
interesting colour, it is all yellow, shows nothing much to do
with the countryside. I think it did help to bring people back
to the coast and the resorts, and that is quite important. What
we realise is that we are going to have to follow that through
in the two other editions of this to come out, and as we move
on to the summer we are going to start producing things like this
(indicating) which show people going back into the countryside.
There is a stark difference between the yellows and sandy colours
of the coast and the green of the countryside, which would be
totally inappropriate at the moment because we still have foot
and mouth. There is another requirement for backing that up with
locally targeted work. It is the old problem with marketing, you
have to have the awareness and the understanding and then you
have to follow it through with more information and then you eventually
have to sell. My view is that nationally there is a requirement
to get the message across that there are lots of things to do
in England, but if that is the only message people will go to
the areas where there has never been foot and mouth. You have
to have the message that there is still plenty to do but you have
to follow that up with farm tourism and the specific location
areas, with quite thrusting marketing, showing things are still
open. Otherwise the blighted nature of those areas will go on
far longer than need be. That is my worry.