Memorandum submitted by the Heart of England
1.1 The Heart of England Tourist Board (HETB)
is the official tourist board for the counties of Derbyshire,
Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire,
Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire,
the West Midlands Metropolitan Districts and the new Unitaries
of Derby, Herefordshire, Leicester and Rutland, Nottingham, Stoke,
Telford and Wrekin and also represents the authority areas of
Cherwell and West Oxfordshire. The Board is a Company limited
1.2 The Heart of England Tourist Board has
a key role in the implementation of the Government's strategy
for tourism, Tomorrow's Tourism. We receive funding from the English
Tourism Council (ETC) to both fulfil this role and to deliver
key national services in the region. We also work in partnership
with the English Tourism Council in the representation and development
of tourism nationally, and with the British Tourist Authority
in the marketing of the region overseas.
1.3 The ETC's Framework for Action and its
Prospectus for the Funding of the English regions provide a key
context for the role of the Regional Tourist Boards. HETB's ETC
2000-03 delivery plan indicated the outputs and outcomes to be
achieved in each year of the new national funding arrangements.
1.4 We are working with the other Regional
Tourist Boards (RTB's) to co-ordinate aspects of national delivery
no longer undertaken by ETC. The RTB's joint company, Unicom Tourism
Ltd now delivers the national inspections service for the ETC
national accommodation schemes.
1.5 As well as funding from the ETC, HETB
receives membership subscriptions from local authorities and from
the private sector. Other income is earned through a variety of
activities including marketing campaigns, visitor research, training,
1.6 The Heart of England comprises 20 per
cent of the population of England and 22 per cent of its land
mass. It has 24 per cent of the country's local authorities within
its borders. It attracts 16.5 per cent of England's domestic visitors
and 10 per cent of its overseas visitors. It accounts for 19.5
per cent of the country's domestic business tourism. It also has
the greatest share of all domestic short breaks in England and
second highest level of domestic visits to friends and relatives.
Its attractions account for 15 per cent of all visits to UK attractions.
1.7 The Heart of England Tourist Board region
covers two Regional Development Agencies and Regional Cultural
Consortium areas in their entirety and, therefore, we relate our
activity to two sets of economic, social and cultural strategies
and contexts. This uniqueness among RTB regions gives rise to
a complexity in relationships and requires a particular style
for the management of regional marketing and development. It also
requires comparatively more national investment to assist in implementing
the national strategy and to fulfil a regional leadership role.
1.8 "Visitor Focus" is the current
regional tourism strategy for the area. Produced in 1997, it covers
the period 1998 to 2003. The purposes of this strategy is to provide
a regional context for the work for all those involved in this
leading industry and is based on a wide ranging consultation with
them. It sets out our priorities and provides a point of reference
for the preparation of detailed strategies and action programmes
at a local level. The strategy is driven by five key principlescompetitiveness,
sustainability, distinctiveness, inclusiveness and co-ordinationand
identifies six strategic aims and priorities for action.
1.9 The Board is a membership organisation
for both the public and private sectors of the industry. We offer
a range of services, which for the public sector include:
Tourist Information, Quality Standards,
Marketing, Information and PR, Training, Research and Development;
for the private sector we offer an
extensive portfolio of benefits designed to promote and develop
business as well as save money.
2. IMPACT OF
THE FMD CRISIS
2.1 To gauge the initial effect of the foot
and mouth crisis on tourism businesses in the Heart of England
region, a questionnaire survey was mailed to approximately 3,000
Member businesses in the last week of March 2001 so the results
below were a snapshot of the position at that date. The following
headline results are based on responses from just over 800 businesses
(approximately 30 per cent response) at the start of April. No
factoring has been applied to all businesses.
17 per cent of businesses normally
open over the survey period (23 February-23 March 2001) had chosen
not to open as a direct result of the crisis;
this ranged from 9 per cent of businesses
in urban locations, to 21 per cent of businesses in rural locations;
the highest non-openings were 32
per cent of holiday parks and 36 per cent of attractions;
22 per cent of bednights booked over
the four week period had been cancelled (21,000 bednights) with
a loss valued at approximately £920,000;
over 5,000 bednights had been rescheduled,
valued at over £190,000;
responding attractions estimate visitor
numbers were down by 60 per cent over the four week period; and
the value of visitors was estimated
at £0.67 million, an approximate 50 per cent reduction in
the expected value of visitors over this period (£1.3 million).
2.2 Businesses responded to operational
actions that they were currently undertaking, or considering as
a result of the crisis:
16 per cent were currently and 12
per cent were considering reducing traditional media advertising;
5 per cent were currently and 9 per
cent were considering increasing traditional media advertising;
8 per cent were currently and 10
per cent were considering increasing web-based advertising;
11 per cent were currently and 12
per cent were considering laying off existing staff;
26 per cent were currently and 5
per cent were considering not taking on any more staff;
6 per cent were currently and 13
per cent were considering not renewing trade memberships.
2.3 Predicted future impact:
over 60 per cent of respondents believe
that the foot and mouth crisis will have a "significant"
or "very significant" affect on their business throughout
the following are "very significant"
39 per cent of serviced accommodation
47 per cent of businesses in
rural locations or "notably affected" counties;
48 per cent of holiday parks
and 48 per cent of attractions;
laying off existing staff:
11 per cent were currently laying
off existing staff;
12 per cent were considering
laying off existing staff;
not taking on more staff:
26 per cent were currently not
taking on any more staff;
5 per cent were considering not
taking on any more staff;
not renewing trade memberships;
6 per cent were currently not renewing
trade memberships; and
13 per cent were considering not
renewing trade memberships.
3. FOOT AND
3.1 The Heart of England Tourist Board was
able to marshal its own resources, to draw down funding from the
English Tourism Council (£175,000) and secure support from
its two RDAs to implement an immediate quick response spring campaign
(Phase 1). The two East and West Midlands Regional Development
Agencies, through Regional Task Forces have contributed £51,000
of marketing and support activities, and the RDAs, along with
attractions and regional radio (Chrysalis Midland Radio Station,
Heart FM) will have provided over £60,000 of in kind support
to the campaign.
3.2 In all, around £487,000 of funding
and in kind has been secured and delivered Phase 1 activities.
Action taken included a detailed assessment of the situation,
the staging of a promotional programme to "kick start"
inter-regional day visits prior to Easter and the May Bank holiday,
and industry support and a helpline.
Phase 1 an integrated quick response campaign
is targeted at potential day visitors to attractions, towns, villages,
inns, shops etc in the countryside.
Open for business Campaign is themed "Getting
Out and About in the Heart of England is as easy as ABC".
Key messageWe have the A-Z of 100's of places to visit
open now in the Heart of England.
Theme and message used in an integrated manner
in all advertising campaigns prompting enquiries to the HETB Visitor
Information Hotline and the HETB web site.
All members have received a copy of the recovery
plan and HETB FMD research findings.
Partners and members briefed on the Recovery
Programme at a Symposium.
Letter from CE to 100+ businesses in the region
promoting the website and Hotline.
HETB Hotline 0800 044 440 contracted to Carrier
Direct for initial period 11 April to 11 May. Operational 8 am
to 10 pm Monday-Friday and 8 am to 8 pm Saturday and Sunday. Just
under 1,500 calls serviced by 17 April.
Call centre draws information from HETB website
and has ability to use Places to Visit and Where to Stay databases
for more comprehensive information. Enquiries postcoded.
Hotline subject of press release to all regional
media. All TICs informed of the number and asked to put it on
their answerphones for out of hours enquiries. All destination
managers advised of the number.
Number registered with Directory Enquiries nationwide.
www.visitheartofengland.com site has a dedicated
"Open for Business" section which is updated daily with
A-Z listings of attractions open, events and TICs under counties.
Information under each county is being enriched with additional
information requested from tourism officers to respond to enquiries
more fully. This includes "10 Top Attractions", "10
ideas for Families with Children", "Where to Walk"
and suggested itineraries.
Places to Visit and What's On search added to
all county pages and a clickable menu added to county pages to
navigate attractions, cycling, walking, TICs, Events etc.
3.5 Trade and Industry Helpline.
Trade and Industry Helpline (0800 085 8468)
operational in house from 8 am to 6 pm Monday-Friday with Voicemail
outside hours. This helpline is co-ordinated with other helplines
operating within the region. Line promoted on front page of Website.
Letter sent to all members of HETB and press release to regional
Website includes an F&M section with factsheets,
contact details and an e-mail enquiry service.
3.6 Promotion Campaign.
Advertisements with ABC theme promoting specific
opportunities in the Heart of England placed in daily and weekly
newspapers throughout the region. Insertions synchronised with
Advantage West Midlands campaign in the West Midlands and with
consistent theme of "Out and About". (Copy of schedule
Radio promotions throughout the region. Heart
FM recorded a 30 second spot and circulated it to around a dozen
other radio stations. (Stations attachedAppendix 1*).
In addition, strong campaign through Heart FM
accompanied by a competition run by the station for free for which
HETB organised over 140 tickets to attractions as prizes. Competition
valued at c £7,500 and value of tickets from attractions
at c £3,500.
Contributions towards media promotions of £20,000
from East Midlands Development Agency and £31,400 for Advantage
3.7 PR Campaign.
Sustained high profile PR campaign ongoing including
television interviews East and West Midlands, radio interviews
and editorials in press. These include:
BBC Syndicated interviews with
local radio interview (eg Radio
Derby, Radio Hereford & Worcester, Radio Leicester);
numerous televised interviews
with BBC Midlands Today and Central TV before and following Easter;
interviews with Birmingham
Post/Nottingham Evening Post/ and others.
PR consultancy commissioned to develop A-Z theme
with celebrities to maintain momentum of PR campaign through May
Booklet featuring attractions being prepared
for distribution through supermarkets and petrol stations in development.
All media schedules circulated to sub-regional
destinations and TICs.
Research on business performance over Easter
weekend reveals that the majority of attractions open did good
business, with some having the best Easter for a long time. (Details
in Appendix 2*.) Many had invested heavily in advertising and
PR, as well as being within the consolidated HETB Out and About
Campaign. This was covered by both BBC and Central TV news.
The picture with accommodations is very different.
They are suffering unprecedented slumps in business.
4. PHASE 2MAY
4.1 Submission has been made to ETC, funding
decision awaited. Marketing activity in Phase 2 is intended to
concentrate on rebuilding the rural tourism economy with the emphasis
on generating immediate business and forward bookings for the
accommodations sector whilst continuing to maintain the momentum
generated in Phase 1 campaigns for day visitor destinations. Image
enhancement and definition will also be required to inform future
marketing messages. Business support will focus on the use of
existing networks. At all stages such measures will be developed
in partnership with public and private sectors to ensure co-ordination
and maximum connectivity.
4.2 The most significant barrier to working
towards the full recovery of the tourism industry is uncertainty
of the disease's containment date. Realistically, building confidence
in the rural tourism product amongst domestic visitors and of
the English tourism product amongst overseas visitors cannot start
until the outbreak is fully contained. Messages promoting rural
tourism however sustained, targeted or focused will not be truly
effective until enduring media images of burning cattle and slaughtered
sheep disappear from TV screens and newspapers. At time of writing
it is not possible to accurately predict when this will be. For
the purposes of forward planning it is however suggested that
this may occur at some stage during the early summer.
4.3 The Phase 2 overall objectives are:
(1) integrated promotional campaign with
print and ICT focus to target staying visitors and maintain momentum
of day visitors;
(2) working with business to improve competitiveness.
Promotional Campaign aims:
to develop an effective
recovery programme for the region's tourism industry by restoring
confidence in the countryside as a visitor destination;
to encourage spending in the
tourism sector and minimise loss from both the UK and overseas
to provide support to Destination
Management Organisations and destination group marketing campaigns;
to promote and maximise trade for
those tourism businesses which are open and continue to operate
during the foot and mouth crisis in both rural and urban locations;
to provide a comprehensive information
service to potential visitors to the area from the UK and overseas;
to work closely with the British
Tourist Authority in particular to secure the long-term recovery
of the overseas visitor market to the Heart of England region.
4.4 In order to kick start bookings and
attract British visitor flows back into the countryside a sustained
image rebuilding campaign which highlights the distinctiveness
of the Heart of England is of paramount importance. It is proposed
that a thematic approach is adopted designed to rebuild confidence
in the quality of the countryside product and to highlight the
uniqueness of the Heart of England regional product.
developing the lead region status
project for food and drink tourism;
a series of themed campaigns targeting
identified customer segments, eg great ideas for families, walkers,
cyclists, sportsmen, gardeners, waterways etc; and
cultural tourism, film locations
in the Heart of England/link to celebrities etc.
4.5 The public need the re-assurance and
"unsolicited" character of "editorial" comment.
Many potential visitors will require confidence that it is alright
to enjoy a product they have kept away from believing they were
acting in the best interests of the countryside. Detailed opinion
rather than advertising can be of immense value in this regard,
using effective PR. As day visits recover, the view that tourism
is now "fine" needs to be carefully managed. The attractions
sector will recover more readily than other sectors within the
industry. The effect of the crisis on the accommodation sector
in particular and its long-term effect on the overseas market
need to be kept in perspective.
4.6 Web based information sources will play
a key role in underpinning advertising and promotional campaigns.
Visitheartofengland.com is intended to be further developed to
provide an authoritative source of tourism information for the
region and as a portal to sub-regional websites. This will feed
in the latest local information from destination tourism officers
and Tourist Information Centres across the region on a daily basis
and provide links into local destination and individual tourism
websites/Tourist Information Centre contact details.
4.7 Within Phase 2 the opportunity provided
by the emergence of discounted flight seats and special offers
will allow potential to target the opportunist visitor in key
overseas markets. This period will also be important for planning
sustainable campaigns for restoring confidence in the countryside
to be implemented in Phase 3.
Primary target audience USA and Canada.
Identify cut-price opportunity markets
Work in partnership with BTA, airlines,
airports and inbound tour operators.
Advertising, direct mail and PR campaign
to be developed in conjunction with BTA.
Supported by website information
resource featuring packages and special offers.
Planning and development of 2002
Late in Phase 2industry seminars
with BTA to reassess marketing opportunities for sub-regional
4.8 Within Phase 2, HETB considers that
both itself and its sub-regional partners take time to re-address
the sub-regional propositions put to the overseas markets. The
overseas perceptions of the UK will clearly vary between segments
and their product awareness positioning. BTA intelligence should
feed down to the sub-regions to assist them re-align where necessary
the core product, the core message and target markets.
5. PHASE 3AUTUMN
5.1 Phase 2 makes recommendations that not
only address the short term but, due to the forward looking nature
and pre-booked activity typically associated with the industry,
has to look forward to Phase 3 and the 2002 season and beyond.
5.2 Sustained activity, particularly that
targeted toward the overseas market is required. The message that
England is open for business and has got back to normal with a
strong focus on quality should be at the heart of this campaign.
Phase 3, looking ahead to rebuild confidence, in close association
with BTA, requires strategic intelligence provision from BTA and
the confidence of the industry to co-invest in marketing with
regional and national partners.
5.3 The need to assess and help rebuild
businesses within the rural economy will be necessary. Some businesses
will have failed, while others will have to rebuild market share.
Moves to develop a Heart of England rural tourism strategy, and
e-tourism capabilities within SMEs in particular will feature
in Phase 3.
6. OTHER ISSUES
6.1 Many of HETB's activities already undertaken,
and those which we desire to implement, noted above relate to
a number of wider issues which have been voiced for sometime by
many parties. These impact on Regional Tourist Board operations
marketing and comprehensive information
national lack of funding for such
ICT infrastructure; and
impacts of business not spending
on promotions, quality standard inspections, membership fees,
refurbs and capital investment, etc.
6.2 It goes without saying that the current
situation has demonstrated how the lack of core government funding
to both the ETC and RTBs for marketing activities has been shown
to be a deficiency. It has created the need to bid for new monies
that have been specifically provided to counteract public behaviour
because of FMD. The English National and Regional Tourist Boards
are disadvantaged in comparison to Wales, Scotland and Northern
Ireland where the devolved administrations provide direct funding
for marketing and promotion. Regional Tourist Boards have had
to move quickly to provide information, marketing and support,
to assist both visitors and businesses.
6.3 Whilst the Government's packages aimed
at providing help to our tourism businesses has been welcomed,
many small businesses in this sector do not qualify for VAT or
rates relief. Whilst we also welcome the extension to the Small
Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme we are concerned that businesses will
be carrying greater levels of debt forward, making future refurbishment
and capital investment more difficult. In our view the £6
million provided to ETC/BTA nationally for this sector which accounts
for 6 per cent of GDP, contrasts sharply with the £120 million
plus of funding provided to the West Midlands region in the wake
of the Rover crisis.
6.4 Clearly information, marketing, market
intelligence and business support have been facilitated over the
past month or so by means of the existing e-mail, Internet and
other electronic channels. Whilst HETB, and the other Regional
Tourist Boards have risen to the challenge, and used ICT channels
to provide updated real time information, the immediacy of needing
to quickly react to the foot and mouth outbreak has demonstrated
the lack of a comprehensive national, regional and sub-regional
ICT infrastructure and personnel dedicated to working with it.
This covers a number of areas, including:
two way information dissemination
and intelligence gathering from RTBs to local authorities/Tourism
Offices is not 100 per cent by electronic means, thus paper, fax,
e-mail (direct and indirect via other departments) has been required;
similarly to/from the networked Tourist
Information Centres, of which 50 per cent are networked; and
communications with visitors/enquirers
(business to consumer) and with the trade/business support (business
to business) has become confused at all levels, whereby a multitude
of private/commercial, public sector/local authority, and regional/national
hotlines, websites etc are being promotedleaving those
seeking advice to have to choose between which to use.
6.5 One of the most significant issues facing
the tourism industry is the need for small businesses to equip
themselves with new technology to attract both domestic and international
business. This with a heightened awareness of e-business amongst
small businesses would do much to help the industry recover and
trade more successfully in future years. A national perspective
on this is developing, however, actual support to businesses in
deciding which IT to invest in is also required.
The Heart of England Tourist Board very much
hopes that this evidence is of value to the Committee and would
like to thank the Committee for the opportunity to present, both
in written and oral format.
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