The UK’s inbound private sector must work together to compensate for Britain’s underspend on tourism promotion.
Guests on a panel at UKinbound’s Convention in Bristol said the UK’s tourism board, VisitBritain, did not have sufficient spending power in overseas markets.
Fiona Pollard, a VisitBritain trustee and board member at Bath’s Roman Baths, reported that Tourism Australia spends 37 times more in China than Britain does.
“The UK spends about £20 million promoting a sector that’s worth £127 billion to the economy; it’s a very small amount of money to be spent across 20 different source-market destinations.
“If we don’t work effectively to make our money go as far as it possibly can, we are not doing a good job,” she insisted.
Merilee Karr, founder of homesharing brand Under The Doormat and chair of the Short-term Accommodation Association (SHAA), added: “We don’t need to wait for VisitBritain to have a new campaign. More could happen out of delegates at this conference finding ways of working together than any additional budget could ever deliver.”
The panel, chaired by TTG Media CEO Daniel Pearce, also discussed the fast-growing short-term rental sector, with the SHAA’s Karr insisting the sector is subject to a similar amount of regulation as traditional accommodation providers.
“To say there isn’t a level playing field is unfair,” she argued. “There is a whole page of regulations on our website. If a premises is safe to be let out for a whole year to a tenant then it is safe to be rented out for one night to a visitor.”
However, Alistair Handyside, chair of the South West Tourism Alliance and owner of a holiday cottage business in Devon, said short-term rental properties should be subject to the same fire and gas safety regulations as hotels and cottage providers.
“The duty of care cuts in in law on just one night,” he insisted.
“It’s the consumer who is at risk. Airbnb says it does not guarantee that a property exists or is safe and legal. That’s not what a consumer expects.”