The Strategic Framework for Tourism in England 2010-2020 is a document
published by VisitEngland organization, British Tourist Authority. It sets out an
ambition of five per cent growth in the industry annually, additional £50bn
expenditure and creation of 225,000 jobs over the next decade. The four main
objectives are set in the Framework, and I am going to evaluate them critically.
Objective 1: To increase England’s share of global visitor markets
In order to attract a greater share of visitors VisitEngland decided that marketing must create
the profile of the England brand which will focus on the most attractive places for tourists in
the country. Two approaches will help with that: an ‘attract and disperse’ approach and a
collaborative cross-destination approach. A good point was made about business and events
visitors who may return as high spending holiday visitors in the future. The authors also wisely
accentuated Glastonbury Festival, Wimbledon Tennis Championship and London Fashion Week
which are undoubtedly the events that England is renowned for.
Earlier in the Framework was mentioned the high cost of English visas for inbound
visitors. This is true, but much more disturbing are difficulties with getting the English
visa, even the standard tourist visitor visa, let alone another types. Strange as it may seem,
there is no mention about this problem in the text. England is surely not a visa-friendly
country for tourists, which is an obstacle to increasing their share of global visitor markets.
The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015 (published by the World Economic
Forum) includes a category “Visa requirements” which evaluates visa requirements for
entry in the destination country for a tourism visit of a limited duration from worldwide
source markets (100 = no visa required for visitors from all source markets, 0 = traditional
visa required for visitors from every source market). United Kingdom ranked 102th (out of
140) in this category with the value of 22.00.1
The idea of popular English events could have been expanded further by adding such
events as annual Jane Austen Festival (Bath), Bath Literature Festival and Shakespeare’s
Celebrations (Stratford-upon-Avon) which attract connoisseurs of literature from all over
the world. While creating the proper England brand, marketing shouldn’t miss any strong
component of the national culture, and literature has always been one of them.
Objective 2: To offer compelling destinations of distinction
The authors claim that there are few countries which can compete with England in the variety
of unique destinations. At the same time, VisitEngland doesn’t want to stop there and means to
make new attractive destinations out of rural and seaside locations, since, in their opinion,
residents are the main beneficiaries of tourism. Therefore more UK residents should be
encouraged ‘to enjoy the destinations on their doorstep’, which is one of the key elements in
the strategy, along with raising visitors’ satisfaction.
1
(World Economic Forum, 2015)
In my opinion, the attractiveness of England is slightly exaggerated, although I perfectly
understand why the authors need to place an emphasis upon it. Undeniably, England does
have some unique destinations to offer (e.g. Stonehenge and Avebury, The Lake District,
Land’s End in Cornwall, Roman Baths, the White Cliffs of Dover) but so do the other
countries. The fact is, there can’t be a lot of truly unique, the only one of its kind, places in
one country. That is why they are unique. So why would people prefer some small town,
which VisitEngland wants to ‘regenerate and enhance’, to a more popular destination
outside the UK? In the Framework there is no answer to this question. These new
destinations seem to possibly become popular only on the national level, amongst residents
who have already visited every famous place in the country. England already has its
destinations of distinction, and I think the official tourist board should focus more attention
on them.
Objective 3: To champion a successful, thriving industry
A perception of tourism as an employer in England is still poor and there are significant skills
shortages in some key areas such as chefs, customer service staff and hospitality management.
VisitEngland considers that, to be a successful industry, tourism needs to create new
employment opportunities for citizens, besides a skilled workforce is essential. Along with
positive economic benefits, tourism brings the potential for negative social and environmental
impacts. That is why a ‘wise growth’ approach was introduced.
I think it is important that VisitEngland pays much attention to local economies and
communities’ needs. They acknowledge that tourism is successful only when it meets
needs of both residents and tourists. Still, welcoming foreign visitors is something they
need to improve further, since England ranked 55th in the category “Attitude of population
toward foreign visitors” of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 published
by the World Economic Forum (in the latest Report this indicator was dropped).2
Objective 4: To facilitate greater engagement between the visitor and the
experience
VisitEngland believes that information provision, a warm welcome, great service and transport
provision are the key elements which need to be improved and modernized to attain this
objective. The authors also took into consideration that people with accessibility needs
represent a growth sector of the market and access for them must be improved.
In other words, this objective aims at making every visitor’s stay in England comfortable
and easy, and people with disabilities are taken into account. VisitEngland’s research
showed that over £2 billion (more than €2.4 billion) are spent each year by people with
disabilities travelling in and to England and those travelling with them. The organization
has set up the three pillars of accessible tourism: information and promotion, customer
service and the physical facilities, and is trying to perfect each element. They also produce
routes for people with access needs and prepare guidance for tourism businesses on their
2
(World Economic Forum, 2013)
legal obligation to welcome assistance dogs. It seems that VisitEngland succeeded in the
subject of access to tourism a lot, which corresponds to social sustainability. 3
References
World Economic Forum (2013). http://www3.weforum.org The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness
Report 2013, 455:
http://www3.weforum.org/docs/TTCR/2013/TTCR_DataTables12_2013.pdf
World Economic Forum (2015). http://www3.weforum.org The Travel & Toursim Competitiveness
Report 2015, 430:
http://www3.weforum.org/docs/TT15/WEF_Global_Travel&Tourism_Report_2015.pdf
Graham I. (2013, December). http://ec.europa.eu Accessible Tourism in Europe. Conference on the
occasion of the European Day of Persons with Disabilities and European Tourism Day. Report:
http://ec.europa.eu/justice/discrimination/files/edpd_etd_2013_conference_report_en.pdf
3
(Conference on the occasion of the European Day of Persons with Disabilities and European Tourism Day, 2013)
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Objective 1: To increase England`s share of global visitor markets