The annual ICRT conference on tourism and local economic development
this year focussed on the contribution that tourism, tourists and day excursionists
make to the local economy in the UK.
The conference, supported by ABTA and VisitEngland, addressed
a key challenge for the UK tourism sector domestic, inbound and outbound. How can tourism seize the opportunity in a period
of adversity to contribute to economic development and to redress the balance
of payments deficit on travel and tourism?
The domestic market and the tourism product in the UK are both
important to ABTA, the UK is a very significant destination for ABTA. The UK is
for ABTA’s members the biggest destination, followed by Majorca.
The conference was focussed on Tourism – Seizing the Moment in Adversity in the UK. The presentations and audio files can be found at
Two ABTA members – Bourne Leisure and Shearing – made
presentations which documented the contribution which travel and tourism
businesses make to the local economy, creating employment and contributing to
the local economy. Both the businesses
and the guests they attract spend significant sums of money in the local economy
? as was evident in the foot and mouth epidemic.
As was spelt out in the Cape Town Declaration Responsible Tourism
is about making ?better places for people to live in? and the presentations addressed
the contribution which tourism makes to local livelihoods, the local economy,
the maintenance of thriving destinations and to the conservation of natural and
cultural heritage in the UK.
The presentation by Martin Christian-Kent of People 1st
demonstrated just how many of the tourism jobs created are managerial. The travel, tourism and hospitality sectors
have been very poor at educating politicians and the population about the volume
and range of jobs which the sector creates and sustains. Denis Wormwell and
June Donnery both demonstrated the range of jobs and the progression opportunities
available in the sector ? many senior mangers have risen through the ranks to
the Boards of listed companies. We need to research and demonstrate this ? the sector
is one of the few which offer the opportunity to enter at the bottom and to
rise to the very top.
There is an urgent need to communicate the importance of the
travel and tourism sector to the prosperity of so many communities in the UK. Businesses and those employed to assist with
marketing and the management of tourism in destinations have done a very poor
job of making the case for tourism and the contribution it makes to local prosperity.
Too often the sector appears to be pleading for preferential treatment or assistance
with marketing rather than demonstrating its contribution to a wide variety of livelihoods
in the UK from hotels to coffee shops, antique shop to newsagents, railways to petrol
stations and from farming to bakers.
All of us involved in the sector need to take responsibility
for making the case for tourism and its contribution to thriving communities in
the UK .
Take a look at the Ambassador programme run by CoaST Cornwall.
We all need to do more. As Denis Wormwell pointed out at the conference responsibility
is free ? we can all take as much of it as we can shoulder. We need to be
talking to local councillors and our MPs and MEPs ? it is down to us ? all of