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Funding announcements - unalloyed good news for all?

28th April 2015

One month into this financial year and it’s already proving to be an interesting year for the visitor economy with a number of opportunities.

We have had the Government pushing to clear their desks ahead of the elections with its various funding announcements that appear to have caught the industry unaware

There has also been the conclusion to the tri-annual review of Visit England and Visit Britain and the start of the consultation on the Growth Strategy for English Tourism.

Is this all good for the industry? You would have to say yes to anything that looks to fine tune how our national tourist boards work together and the addition of some £18m of extra money for the promotion of some of the destinations in England has to be great news.

There are inevitably some downsides and one big surprise. The downside, from my point of view, is that the displacement factor has not been taken into account with the funding to the South West and Northern Futures projects. Spending £16m in those areas in one year will inevitably have an impact on the other areas of England and I would fully expect some destinations to lose market share as potential visitors gain greater awareness of ‘new’ product.

The big surprise was that the two areas in receipt of £16m without bidding are still able to apply for monies from the Great UK Challenge Fund, which seems a crazy idea and a lost opportunity for Government to say to destinations not benefitting from the funding above to at least share in the £2m Challenge Fund making this more impactful.

In Birmingham like many destinations we are wrestling with the above while dealing with the local issues of reduced local authority funding, the changeover of the  ERDF programmes, what geography we work to - Birmingham, Greater Birmingham, a combined authority or do we join up with the East Midlands to have the Midlands ask of Government.

As we head to the election on the 7th May let’s hope that the profile the visitor economy has is not lost and whoever forms the next administration honours the current commitment that will enable our sector to continue to play its part in growing the UK economy.

Funding announcements - unalloyed good news for all?