WTA attended this VisitBritain event, which included the Annual Review 2017 and UK Industry Strategy update meetings. At the Annual Review, an opening address was given by UK Tourism Minister, Michael Ellis MP, which was followed by presentations from VisitBritain Director Dame Judith McGregor and VisitBritain CEO Sally Balcombe.
Annual Review presentation content included consideration and celebration of the 2017 IPS figures, which recorded 39 million overseas visitors coming to the UK, spending £39 billion; the Tourism Sector Deal (which is still awaiting sanction from the UK Government); challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit; an update on the £40mn Discover England Fund; performance of the VB Online Shop which generated £27.8 million in visitor spend (£2 million profit); seasonality and dispersal issues (London is “seen as Britain”) – and finally the continuing need to reduce the deficit on the UK Balance of Payments Tourism Account by increasing domestic tourism visits. In conclusion VB wishes to build upon this current platform of economic success by delivering more growth, with an accent upon spend as opposed to volume. Improvement in productivity rates, linked to reducing seasonality was also mentioned.
WTA Chair, Andrew Campbell, whilst acknowledging the success of the UK figures, made comment within the Q/A session that the 2017, 17% fall in visitor spend figures, over 2016, for Wales had generated feelings of disappointment and surprise in equal measure, as overseas visitor numbers were up and tourism businesses had generally reported reasonable levels of trading last year. This has led to some reservations being held about IPS survey methodology, in particular the small sample size, (approx 400) which does not always work in favour of UK areas. The point was accepted and acknowledged.
Topics covered within the BTIG Strategy Meeting included the IPS 2018 figures (Q1); the VB Events Strategy (which was also presented at the TBOE event on 5th October at Celtic Manor); a case study from Marketing Manchester; consideration of Asia Pacific and Middle East markets – and finally a general review of 2018 UK tourism performance to date, at which WTA Chair gave some feedback for Wales.