Tourism – It’s important
I sit on the Tourism Panel. Tourism is important to Cornwall. Without it, we would be up the creek without a paddle, and probably the canoe too. It equates to £1.5 billion to Cornwall, or in money terms the income equivalent of £3000 for every man woman and child who lives in Cornwall. It employs 40,000 people. So it’s very important to Cornwall.
From the stats and figures that we were shown today, it seems Cornwall has come though the current recession better than expected with the average length of stay down from 7.5 days to just under 7 days. We have around 88% repeat visitors. These are people who come back to Cornwall within 5 years. So it seems once they come, they will return.
While the visitor numbers are good, it seems that whilst lots of money is spent in Cornwall a large part of it does not stay because of the VAT and Business Rates what goes to the central coffers of the Government. The Tourism Minister, John Penrose is currently draft a new Policy on Tourism that could mean that more of this tax money stays within the borders of where it’s been spent. One dreaded word that was mentioned by Malcolm Bell was a Tourism Tax. This was merely mentioned as an idea and nothing more than that (yet).
I raised a question what was Visit Cornwall (Tourism Wing of CC) doing to attract visitors to Cornwall during the Olympics. This is one of the largest events to happen to the UK since 1948 when the Olympics were last here. It has a huge potential to attract more people to visit Cornwall and more importantly revisit over and over again. At present nothing overtly happening, but Malcolm Bell did acknowledge more work should be done to attract those wanting to get away from the Olympics or wanting to see more of what the UK has to offer whilst they are here during the Olympics. He said he would get more details from Visit Britain who is handling a lot of the PR on tourism during the Olympics. I believe this is a trick not to be missed.
On the downside, Cornwall Development Company (CDC) which Visit Cornwall sits in is facing cuts along with everyone else. The danger that was pointed out by me and many other Councillors on this Panel is the budget for Tourism is seen as a soft target in these cuts. It may seem soft on paper, but current money that goes into tourism would have a more hard hitting effect on Cornwall and those who this industry support.
I am very confident that we have the right man at the helm in Malcolm Bell. From the meeting I have had with him he currently knows what he is talking about.