Representatives from Britain’s leading visitor attractions have called on the Government not to turn its back an industry worth £85bn and responsible for employing 7.5 per cent of the UK workforce.
Speaking at a summit to debate the way forward for the industry during the recession, John Hoy (top right), chief executive of Blenheim Palace, which hosted the event organised by visitor attraction consultants Vision XS, said: “At a time when we need to be making a strong case for the UK, the 18 per cent cut in funding for Visit Britain makes no sense whatsoever.”
Keynote speaker Juliana Delaney, chief executive of Continuum Attractions (top left), added: “We need more effective lobbying to keep this industry in the minds of Government.”
But she said the economic impact on the industry was of “recalibration” rather than “recession”.
“What we are seeing is the need for a different way of working. While the business travel sector is down, the leisure travel market is not as badly hit.”
Pointing to the fact that while inbound travel to the UK is down 10 per cent, travel departures overseas are also down by 16 per cent, she added: “We are in the new era of the stay-cation – people are holidaying in their own back yard. Better the stay-cation than its evil cousin, the nay-cation – staying in and doing nothing. We have got to make sure that when they choose Margate instead of Malaga, we give them what they want otherwise they will be off again next year.
She described a new “grounded consumer” who would spend money but wanted value for their cash, which meant operators were having to work harder to maximise the offering at their attractions. And she said a recent NS&I survey suggested Brits planned to spend their savings on leisure treats this summer.
“Our message is keep focussed, keep close to your customers, keep your costs down, keep spending on marketing, stay ahead by being innovative, and keep smiling.”
The summit, in Oxford on 8th July, brought together around 50 of the country’s top destinations. The agenda focussed on the impact of the global economic climate on the industry enabling delegates to share experiences from across the sector and pool strategies for success.
Tony Sefton, Chief Executive of Vision XS, said: “The conference brought together some of the best brains in the business. The mood was overwhelmingly positive and upbeat and the creativity in evidence throughout underlined why if any industry is ready to react and move forward in changing times, this is it.”
Speakers at the Vision XS conference included Mike Bartok of Paramount Studios, Andrew Green from Wild Britain, Barbara Smith from Edinburgh Castle, Simon Cox from Marwell Wildlife Park and Tony Sefton of Vision XS.
Destinations represented reflected the diverse range of visitor attractions on offer across the UK from international landmarks including Warwick Castle, St Pauls Cathedral, the London Eye, London Aquarium, Woburn and Bath Abbey to theme park operator Merlin, zoos, museums and small farm parks. Local authorities and tourism bodies including Historic Scotland were also represented.
Operational in 16 countries and used by more than 80 facilities, Vision XS, whose headquarters is at the Culham Science Centre at Abingdon in Oxfordshire, is revolutionising the leisure and tourism industry around the globe by making the management and growth of leisure destinations such as farm parks, theme parks, museums and zoos, a more precise science.
About Vision XS
Vision XS was set up eight years ago by CEO Tony Sefton who had started his career designing rides for theme parks. He decided to bring a scientific approach to the development of visitor attractions using experience modelling software to enable leisure venues to understand what sort of experience visitors gain at their attractions and which shows how this can be improved, leading to greater returns and increased word of mouth recommendations.
The company has benchmarked data from visitor attractions across more than twenty countries.
Vision XS has started to advise regional tourism groups in the UK and overseas, and look at facilities across a whole region to determine how the visitor experience can be improved. Vision XS is currently completing one such project for South West Tourism, looking specifically at Cornwall.
The company specialises in helping attraction operators and tourism destinations develop by providing the best experience possible for their visitors.
The unique Vision XS approach involves using scientific methods and data analysis to measure the quality of experience on offer and identify areas for improvement that will deliver both for the visitor and the attractions operator.
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