Travel Experts Pre-Tourism Strategy Announcement Warning To Government
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
A leading tourism expert is warning the government to look at the efficiency of public-run tourism organisations, ahead of the new Government tourism strategy which is due to be launched by minister John Penrose tomorrow .
Marcus Simmons, managing director of iknow-uk, the UK's leading independent tourism and accommodation directory, is urging ministers to think carefully about the current tourism management system - and is hoping that their new strategy will help the sector boom in the run-up to key events such as the Olympics and the royal wedding.
He said: "Tourism is the sixth largest industry in the UK, contributing £100 billion to the economy and employing around two million people. It is vital that this level is not just maintained, but grown, and there's a real possibility of doing this if the government chooses to focus its efforts and resources in a more effective manner.
"In this time of economic hardship, inbound tourism represents a huge opportunity for the UK economy, especially with the weak pound making overall prices much lower to many overseas visitors.
"Engaging these potential visitors is key, and the way we do so should be more strategically and cost-effectively thought-out.
"Official UK tourism bodies are disparate, with organisations ranging from Visit Britain, through many layers to small, sub-county-level bodies promoting a small town or district.
"This provides huge duplication of effort and finance, and, worst of all, each local area or region effectively competes against each other using public money to attract visitors to their region ahead of a neighbouring one.
"There is also extensive duplication of IT and web systems, and a huge overlap when it comes to other resources such as marketing and hospitality business support.
"The government should streamline its approach with much more effective use of web resources. One way of doing this is to encourage much greater integration with private sector companies like mine - iknow-uk.
"After all, it is understandable that the government should want to support this sector, but is it really necessary to have such a huge public sector structure to support what is primarily private sector activity? There aren't local government supermarkets or automotive information centres, so why have so many government controlled tourism bodies competing against each other?
"We essentially compete with tourist bodies in terms of promoting places to stay and things to do but with one important difference - we are entirely self-financing. With a fraction of the budget that is lavished into public sector tourism we could use it much, much more productively through our understanding of delivering an excellent return on investment to hospitality businesses.
"Big budget overseas advertising is important and should be the preserve of VisitBritain but please leave the rest to people who already do it without any public funding at all - spending less for a greater return!"
Founded by Marcus in 2003 with the iknow-yorkshire website, iknow-uk now operates 18 regional websites for accommodation and hospitality providers including restaurants, hotels, guest houses, holiday cottages and B&Bs.
For more information, visit www.iknow-uk.com.
Notes to Editors
- iknow-uk specialises in helping people plan and book the perfect UK holiday, by researching and offering the best local information to inspire the thousands of people that visit the sites each month
- iknow-uk gives visitors a wide choice of ways to research and contact accommodation providers. They can book online or have the option to contact properties by phone, email or through their websites
- iknow-uk ltd launched iknow-yorkshire in September 2003. It has since launched an additional 17 sites, including iknow-scotland, iknow-lakedistrict, iknow-northwest, iknow-cornwall, iknow-devon, iknow-wales, iknow-dorset, iknow-kent, iknow-somerset, iknow-sussex, iknow-hampshire, iknow-northeast, iknow-peakdistrict, iknow-london, iknow-homecounties and iknow-cotswolds. iknow-westmidlands, iknow-eastmidlands and iknow-northernireland are soon to follow
- April 2009 saw the launch of a comprehensive hospitality section to iknow-yorkshire. Hospitality is now also available on all the iknow-uk regional sites
- Since its launch, iknow-uk has over 6,000 customers, including accommodation and hospitality providers, listing on its regional websites. The sites have received over 25 million visitors and created two million booking enquiries for customers listing on the regional sites, which equates to £290 million worth of bookings - making iknow a leading authority on online bookings across the UK
- For further enquiries on listing on iknow-uk's websites, please contact Eve or Rachael at iknow-uk on 01772 521166