Devon Life - Business & Professional Life - SEASONAL LOOKAHEAD
PUBLISHED: 13:59 19 April 2012 | UPDATED: 12:10 28 February 2013
It's that time of year again. Forget the daffodils and lambs, for anyone involved in the tourism industry it's all whitewash and maintenance. Holiday cottage owners, hotels and B&B's up and down the county are getting ready to welcome visitors.
Its that time of year again. Forget the daffodils and lambs, for anyone involved in the tourism industry its all whitewash and maintenance. Holiday cottage owners, hotels and B&Bs up and down the county are getting ready to welcome visitors and show them the best that Devon has to offer. With tourism worth 2.2billion to the Countys economy there is no room for complacency. So, with a busy summer of events ahead how is the season looking? Weve rounded up some expert opinion
Confidence indicators in the economy have not changed much since last year, the only certainty is uncertainty. That is good for Devon as families replace their foreign holiday with a home destination. The staycation culture of 2009 is still with us and is set to continue into 2010 but, there are still challenges according to the Devon Business Partnership In the face of government cuts and tax increases, consumer spending is declining, with spending growth in 2012 revised down to 0.5%. The tourism industry outlook is particularly uncertain due to the increased economic volatility coupled with austerity measures in key source markets and rising petrol prices.
Overseas bookings generally account for around 10% of the Devon market and it has remained constant so far this year but foreign confidence is low and worries about the future of the Euro are stifling growth in the overseas market. That coupled with the pound strengthening slightly means our traditional German and Dutch tourists will come, but will watch what they spend.
Despite the optimism of the Prime Minister on the huge potential 2012 has to boost tourism there is some scepticism about whether the South West will benefit from the London Olympics. Research by travel site Skyscanner suggests that the region will benefit as foreign holiday makers look to avoid the capital. But, research conducted for Visit England says the impact will be minimal. Only half those attending the Games will adjust their holiday plans, mainly benefitting London and only 3% of those not attending the games will go abroad to escape the hype. Moray Bowater of helpful Holidays says that despite the games Devon remains a good value destination Bookings are strong over the Olympic period and we expect to sell out. What we are not doing is hiking prices, it gives completely the wrong message. By keeping them down were building future bookings.
Is the Diamond Jubilee likely to boost tourist numbers
Last years Royal Wedding weekend followed immediately by the Easter holiday triggered a bumper Spring for the South West. Early indications are that short stay bookings for 2012 are already up on 2011 as holidaymakers take advantage of another extra bank holiday this year. Most operators are reporting increased bookings for June as Whitsun, the Queens Diamond Jubilee and school half term all fall within three weeks of each another. Kevin Darvill from Woolacombe Bay says bookings for caravans and lodges are up by 37% on last year but money is still an issue Self-catering is very popular because people can control their spending whilst on holiday. By eating at home they can maximise time and minimise cost.
The biggest single factor to influence our holiday trade is the weather. Polls conducted by the South West Research Company record 2011 as anOK summer weather wise, not surprising as it followed two wet and miserable years. The Met Office dont issue long range forecasts, since the barbecue summer headline two years ago so there is no long, hot summer on the horizon. Short break bookings rely heavily on forecasts, but theres good evidence across a range of accommodation that the traditional family holiday will go ahead whatever the weather.
So the message is mixed but there is room for optimism. The South West is still the premier UK holiday destination, and although times are tough, tourist businesses across Devon are taking on the challenges and gearing up to give their visitors quality, reliability and a proper welcome.