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Tapping into Tourism

2012 was a bumper year for Britain’s tourism industry thanks to the Olympics and the Jubilee, and the party isn’t over yet.

As the world’s 7th largest tourist destination, the UK benefits from both domestic and foreign visitors. Last year the UK welcomed 31 million visitors spending £18.6 billion. By 2020 overseas visitor numbers are expected to reach 40 million with a spend of £31.5 billion.

Domestic tourism accounts for the largest proportion of expenditure of over £22 billion spent last year and this looks set to continue in 2013.

VisitEngland is promoting domestic tourism with a marketing campaign fronted by Wallace and Gromit and the strapline –  ‘holidays at home are great!’. And the numbers suggest it’s true as the ongoing squeeze on finances and the continuing popularity of the ‘staycation’
means many families will be holidaying at home in the UK this summer. So what should you be doing to seize tourism potential in your area and maximise your revenue stream?

For starters, think British.  For chefs and restaurateurs, domestic tourists provide the perfect platform to indulge in the renewed passion for all that is British.  With this in mind look to promote seasonal British local produce and speciality dishes on menus to attract tourists looking to enjoy their UK break.

Please bear in mind that UK tourism isn’t all about location, location, location.  Tourists outside ‘typical’ touristy-locations will be just as interested in enjoying a taste of the local cuisine as those visiting famous or more popular destinations.  Consider your local area carefully and you will find that you are near a particular area of interest, cultural importance or a tourist attraction.  The question is  – how can you make your particular venue work with and benefit from your area’s unique selling point?

For instance, if you are in a popular walking area then offer ramblers specially-designed pre-and post-hike menus, complete with a route map with your venue as the star attraction at the beginning or end of the walk.  Or, latch on to a local theme or event. For example, if your local area holds an annual village fayre, hire a stall and create a representative minimenu to give the visiting public a ‘taste’ of your venue –  and leave them wanting to visit you again for more!

Offering traditional British afternoon tea is another easy way to appeal to tourists and can be done with limited kitchen facilities and by all types of venues whether pubs, cafes, garden centres or restaurants.

National celebrations and events can also offer wonderful themed opportunities if you have exhausted your ‘local’ offerings.  For example, to celebrate national picnic week in June, The Millstone at Mellor, Tourism Pub of the Year, offered pre-prepared picnic hampers and rugs for customers to take away to enjoy a day out in the Lancashire countryside.

In addition to a buoyant domestic market, international tourism is also set to rise with the latest research from VisitBritain predicting £200 million pounds worth of additional visitor spending in the next two years. To maximise earnings potential from overseas visitors, the number one recommendation is: clean up your act. According to a recent study by P&G Professional, a division of Procter & Gamble and the makers of cleaning brands such as Fairy, Flash and Mr Propre, 97 per cent of guests voted cleanliness as the most important factor when choosing a restaurant, cafe, bar or hotel.

Cleanliness was voted more important than cost, service, location or frills with 61 per cent of European customers – nationalities surveyed include Italians, Spanish, French, Germans and Brits – expecting outlets to look freshly spring-cleaned all year round. Keeping it clean also leads to higher tips so let staff know that hygiene reaps rewards for everyone.

“Though we have always known that cleanliness is critical to driving memorable guest experience, these findings really serve to highlight just how much importance guests place on having a clean and fresh environment when eating or staying away from home,” says Jayne Clark, P&G Professional Sales Director for UK and Ireland.

Research from VisitBritain highlights the importance of pubs to foreign visitors, with over 50 per cent of foreign tourists visiting a pub when in the UK.  Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communication at VisitBritain explains how important pubs are for tourism, “the great British pub is our welcome mat to the world. Visitors can chat with locals, get a flavour for the area and discover all the hidden treasures which aren’t necessarily found on a planned itinerary. That’s not to mention the wonderful array of local food, beer and wine that they can try while here.”

For the longer summer evenings, VisitEngland and the Association of Town Centre Management have issued guidelines to help the tourism industry make the most of the night-time economy. Unlike the rest of Europe, Britain has a weak night-time economy.

James Beresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland says that later opening hours by shops, bars and restaurants represents “a huge opportunity to grow tourism in England and make our cities and towns some of the most exciting in the world.” Contact your local Town Centre team if you think your venue could benefit from night-time trade.

To fully capitalise on tourism in your area you could also consider offering accommodation.

This could be simple camping, or bed and breakfast utilising current space or by building bespoke separate guest accommodation. The Craven Heifer Inn in Kelbrook, Lancashire has successfully done this. From initially offering bed and breakfast from 8 bedrooms above the pub, it now offers an additional 10 bedrooms in a newly completed lodge building. Although this required initial investment, with rates between £60 for single occupancy and £90 for double, it is clear to see how offering accommodation can provide additional income.

See our top tourism tips here.

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