Northern tourism boards launch new NatWest Tourism Business Barometer

3 August 2020

As towns and cities across the north of England reopen their economies subject to some temporary local restrictions, a contingent of tourism boards have come together to launch a new fortnightly business barometer which will measure the UK post-lockdown tourism business environment including shifts in employment, trends in revenue and overall business confidence.

Led by Marketing Manchester, nine tourism boards – otherwise known as Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) and including Marketing Lancashire, Cumbria Tourism, Make It York, Marketing Cheshire, Marketing Liverpool, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Visit County Durham and Visit Leeds – are involved and have agreed to recruit panel members* from within the tourism economy that will consistently participate in a survey.

The survey is supported and funded by NatWest and will run for three months until the end of October. The first set of responses have been received, revealing several key take-outs which will now form a benchmark to report against every fortnight**.

Amongst the overall take-outs is that 9 in 10 businesses have reported that they are currently trading with a revenue loss on 2019, with over half of businesses reporting a revenue loss of 75%. 87% of businesses also reported a reduced level of advanced bookings for October to December on what they had on the books at this point in 2019.

Rural areas including Lancashire expect revenue recovery to come sooner.

Some of the more interesting discoveries are revealed when comparing urban and rural areas across the north of England. City-based businesses, for example, are more likely to report revenue losses with NewcastleGatehead (75%), Leeds (70%), Manchester (68%) and Liverpool (63%) all reporting significantly higher levels than the average for the North (51%). Cities also tend to have the lowest business confidence in returning to pre-COVID revenue levels, with some city-based businesses believing such levels may not be reached until January 2023 or beyond, whilst businesses in County Durham, Cumbria and Lancashire in contrast all expect revenue recovery to come sooner.

Green shoots can potentially be seen for advanced booking for trips due to take place between January and March 2021 with businesses in four areas of the North showing increased bookings for the period compared to this point in 2019. This does, however, need to be carefully watched within the barometer as it may be that these additional bookings include postponed bookings that have been rescheduled as well as long-standing bookings that may not go ahead.

Sheona Southern, Managing Director at Marketing Manchester said: “This new business barometer is an essential piece of work for not only tracking how businesses are emerging from lockdown and into a new environment, but also analysing what contrasting or complementary trends are developing in different areas across the north of England.

 “At this point the tourism industry across the North is slowly building back business, albeit at different and with a marked difference between urban and rural areas. We’re acutely aware of this in Greater Manchester where temporary local restrictions have come in over the weekend and therefore over the coming weeks and months this barometer is going to be essential in helping us to intimately understand how things change across the region, in a way that many other surveys and barometers cannot.

 “Furthermore, the frequency of the surveys and consistency of panel members means that the DMOs involved all have access to incredibly valuable information that we can use to improve the services we offer our partners and members.

 “All nine DMOs are running recovery campaigns at the moment and it is going to be especially important that we have evidence to support any nuanced developments within our individual campaigns as well as intel that could help us to better support each other across the North and potentially align our work with powerful joint messaging.”

Richard Topliss, Regional Managing Director for NatWest Commercial Banking in the North of England, commented: “Without question, tourism plays a key part in many local economies across the North of England. After a period of closure and the possibility of future disruption, there is understandably a long way to go before businesses in the sector see turnover recover to pre-COVID levels. However the agility and creativity of many in the sector is inspirational, and whilst the picture is variable, there are pockets of best practice starting to emerge, and I hope the NatWest Tourism Barometer will highlight these and provide encouragement for all as the market recovers.”

Rachel McQueen, Chief Executive of Marketing Lancashire added: “Throughout the crisis Marketing Lancashire has supported local tourism businesses and, in the new #RedefiningLancashire campaign, is now focused on recovery.  The new NatWest tourism business barometer will be invaluable in the development of that campaign, especially as the Covid-19 landscape is so changeable.

“The initial findings of the barometer show some optimism from Lancashire businesses who believe recovery in the county and more rural areas, will come sooner.  There are also good indications that early bookings for 2021 are slightly ahead of where they would normally be.

“We’re grateful to NatWest and those participating Lancashire tourism businesses who are helping provide such useful sector insights; highlighting areas of good practice and success across the North that will inform and ultimately benefit us all.”

 The first edition of the NatWest Tourism Business Barometer can be viewed here and new updates will be added fortnightly.

Tags: News
© 2024 Marketing Lancashire