Tourism Recovery Plan

A headshot of our CEO, Kat Lee. Kat has a friendly face and is smiling, looking just off camera.

A blog from Kat, our CEO

Just over a week ago I shared my views on the latest government announcement about international travel and the inevitable impact that would have on families and their access to a holiday here in the UK. If you didn’t catch it, it’s still available here.

Last week saw the publication of the Government’s ‘Tourism Recovery Deal’ and I’ve been busy getting into the detail to understand what it could mean for family holidays in the future.

The paper outlines the approach that the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCMS) will take to rebuild tourism following the devasting impact of the pandemic. One of the six objectives outlined is ‘A tourism industry that provides an inclusive and accessible offer that is open to all.’

Open to all. What an exciting commitment to see and an important sign to us here at the Family Holiday Association that our work to champion the inclusion of families in tourism is having an impact with decision-makers.

We hope this signals a shift in thinking from the Government towards a true assessment of the people and communities for whom, along with the disabled community, tourism is not currently open.

But the measures will have to go further than the announced introduction of a voucher scheme worth £10 million available to players of the National Lottery this autumn. Positioned as a key mechanism for encouraging off-season trips, the vouchers will be redeemable at tourist attractions across the UK.

Reserving judgement until further detail is available it’s to be hoped there is a route to getting a voucher that doesn’t include gambling which wouldn’t be inclusive of those who eschew it for religious, cultural or indeed any other reason.

And it looks like this is just for attractions rather than accommodation or transport so that may still be a barrier to this measure reaching families in remote areas and those poorly served by public transport.

As a mechanism for stimulating demand in the off-season, which has long been acknowledged as a barrier to a healthier domestic tourism market, it betrays a need for bigger picture thinking.

Providers already heavily discount the off-season to stimulate demand. The reasons those lucky enough to be able to travel don’t do so in the off-season are not primarily economic let’s face it. They are about the weather and the school holidays.

So, what can be done to overcome these barriers to off-season domestic tourism?

There are a few options – some more far-reaching than others. What about changing the school terms to include shorter more frequent breaks throughout the year? Or recognising the educational value in tourism experiences and relaxing the rules on holidays during the school year when it doesn’t affect the preparation for key exam periods?

What can be done to modernise our perception of ade good old British seaside image?  This is something we are challenging ourselves on at the charity, too – not all families are interested in the same things!

Consumers recognise the value of a holiday for health and wellbeing – so could the Government do more to include it in social prescribing or other health and social care initiatives?

Now is the time for some radical thinking that uses all the tools at the Government’s disposal to support the recovery of both the economy and society and no idea should be off the table.

Let’s #BuildBackBetter and make sure that all means all.

Meanwhile, we are working to support more than 3200 families facing tough situations with an overnight trip this year, reviewing what we offer and continuing the work we’ve done to improve access for families through initiatives like ScotSpirit.

Kat

Kat Lee, Chief Executive


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