Tourism ~ Seizing the Moment in Adversity

Last week, on Friday 7th, I went to a conference in London with the above title.  It was supported by ABTA, Responsible Tourism and Visit England and sponsored by K & L Gates, at their offices in Cannon Street.

Harold Goodwin

The conference had a focus on Destination UK and, sadly, quite a few local authorities did not send representatives.  The speakers’ list was excellent and all those who did attend, had an informative, interesting and rewarding day.  The day was introduced and facilitated by Harold Goodwin ~ Harold is Professor of Responsible Tourism Management and a Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University.

Ken Robinson, Chair of The Tourism Alliance, was the first speaker on the subject of; ‘2011 – Challenges & Opportunities’.  An accomplished speaker, he was giving a personal view that was positive, forward thinking and, refreshingly, with no time for spin! A great start.  From 2009 data, the figures given regarding tourism are pretty astonishing.  Tourism is one of our largest industries, it’s worth £115.4bn to the economy and is 8.9% of UK GDP. Tourism supports 2.645 million jobs (directly and indirectly). Inbound Tourism is the UK 3rd highest export earner, with 29.9 million visitors, spending £16bn. London attracts over half of all inbound visitor spend, the rest of England 37%, Scotland 8% and Wales 2%.

James Beresford, CEO of Visit England followed with ‘Realising the Opportunity – A strategy for English tourism’. I was going to give some snippets from the posts I tweeted, but for some reason Twitter says they are no longer available! James told us tourism adds local value, helps protect & preserve our heritage and typifies new localism. The Visit England vision is to maximise tourism’s contribution to the economy, employment and quality of life in England.

All the information on what the speakers said and also files of the slide presentations is available on-line at the Responsible Tourism site.

In fact, please go to that site and have a look at the presentations and audio files – well worth it!  It must have been a good day, as it didn’t finish until 6 pm and the day just whooshed by!

John de Vial of ABTA gave the closing remarks saying that ABTA wanted to pick up the theme of today, the UK.  The UK is the most important growth destination for ABTA’s members.  Tourism is incredibly important to the economic growth of this country and the localism agenda leads it.  The tone and feel of the day has been extremely positive.  It’s been a fascinating day.  Next year the venue will be the new offices of K & L Gates, 1 New Change, the new building next to St Paul’s.