Could 2021 Be the Year We Develop off-Peak Tourism?

Susan Briggs resized

17th March 2021

Are you looking forward to the end of June and possible lifting of lockdown, or focusing on November?

Why would I even mention November when we’re still living day to day, week to week? Over the last year planning anything in advance has been hard. Many of us are struggling to think beyond the end of lockdown. Remember when we talked about ‘build back better’?

Most of us are just content to still be here, let alone full of energy for creating new ways of working. But I do think we might be missing an opportunity.

The last year has revealed at least two important facts.

  1. There’s a huge appetite for travel at home and abroad. We’re ready and willing to spend money to enjoy time outside our homes. We can feel more confident about promoting domestic tourism.
  2. More people are ready to spend time outdoors, even when the weather’s not great. Faced with socialising outdoors or not at all, we’ve quickly discovered waterproof clothing and innovative shelters. Bad weather isn’t the barrier it once was. Not everyone loves the British climate, yet there’s now a sense we can find better ways to deal with it.

It’s likely that many of us will not only try to take a holiday this Summer, but will leap at the chance for additional short breaks too. Perhaps even in the shoulder months, possibly even in deep mid-Winter.

Could this finally be the year we manage to extend the season and start to enjoy year-round domestic tourism?

I recently found some ancient documents in my office. One of them was a report from the last century dated 1990, towards the beginning of my tourism marketing career. The title: “Recommendations to develop off-peak tourism in Britain”.

Just a cursory glance showed how little has changed since then. Every tourism strategy I’ve ever read or written seems to include “reduce seasonality”. It’s an ongoing issue for most destinations.

Yet we still resort to two key marketing methods to attract off-peak visitors. Discounts and special offers abound, reinforcing perceptions that out of season visits are less worthwhile. Or there’s that well-tried, less-proven combination of hoping and praying.

Maybe this year we’ll do something different and take advantage of all that pent-up demand, and enthusiasm for all-seasons activity?

I’ve started working with groups of businesses to help them explore opportunities to build year-round visits. We’ve found some easy and low cost ways to do so. It’s not about big splashy campaigns, straplines or discounts. Simple small steps that can make a real difference: we just have to put them into practice.

Could 2021 be the year we actually do things differently?

Susan Briggs

TMI Director of Communications


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