The South West Tourism Alliance – Tourism events and updates

In this newsletter…

  • SWTA Conference 13th November 2018
  • SWTA Fund-raising Dinner 12th November 2018
  • Another Record-breaking year for the South West Regional Tourism Awards
  • Breaking news….Three new Sponsors
  • Business Rates lobbying campaign
  • Progress on Impact of the Sharing Platforms (AirBnB etc) and the progress towards a Level Playing Field
  • Package Travel Directive update
  • Devon and Somerset £2.5 mill Skills training pot
  • LEP review looks good for Tourism

SWTA Conference: 13th November 2018 (0900-1500)

The next SWTA conference will be at The Tiverton Hotel on the 13th November. We have got a great line up of speakers, including Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality. Patricia Yates from Visit England, Deirdre Wells Chair of the Tourism Alliance, David Ralph, the new CEO of the Heart of the SW LEP, Stephan Darke, Head of Tourism at DCMS and Kurt Janson, Director of the Tourism Alliance. There will be more announcements shortly. We will be covering the very real spectre of Tourism Taxes, discussing the implications of the results of the Sharing Economy APPG and seeing how that can best work for us as well as much, much, more. Tickets are £40 and include parking, teas, coffees and lunch. More details are online now at

SWTA Fund-raising Dinner. 12th November 2018

This will be held at Higher Wiscombe and tickets are limited to 50. The evening is networking based, so canapes drinks and chat with formal sit down at 2100. Food and drink is a celebration of all that is local. Ticket includes full bar. More than half the tickets are already sold, overnight accommodation is available, we have a brilliant deal from the Deer Park Hotel in Honiton, contact if required. To book tickets which are £60 go to

Another Record-breaking year for the South West Regional Tourism Awards
With entry to all categories now closed, it has been another record-breaking year in the South West’s Tourism Awards.  Over 650 entries have been received with judging now well advanced and finalists to be announced from mid September.
Breaking news… Three new Sponsors

SWTA is delighted to announce that we have three sponsors. These companies will help SWTA with the forthcoming campaigns for a review of Business Rates and to continue to push for a Level Playing Field for all tourism businesses. The Sponsors are Coast Communications and MarketingClockwork Marketing and Quality in Tourism. Huge thanks to all three. More details on these companies and the sponsorship will follow in the next newsletter.

Business Rates Campaign

SWTA previously only generated funds from the dinners and from sponsored newsletters. In order to effectively lobby more funds were required, hence the announcement above regarding sponsorship. The sponsorship above will enable SWTA, alongside other organisations, to launch a focussed PR and lobbying campaign calling for a full review of Business Rates. The impact of this bricks and mortar tax on tourism businesses and the High Street has got to be dramatically reduced, the shortfall for the Government being made up by online businesses. We will also be pushing onwards regarding the level playing field, see below. Full details will be published in the next newsletter.

Level Playing Field
SWTA took an active part in providing information to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) into the impact of the ‘Sharing Economy’, these are sites like AirBnB. SWTA’s point was not anti-AirBnB, we just want all accommodation, however advertised, to be compliant with the law and to protect their paying guests. We call this ‘safe and legal’. The sharing sites were opposed to this. We were able to persuade the APPG otherwise and their key findings are as follows:
Having considered the evidence both from the sharing economy and from the rest of the tourism industry, the APPG for Tourism recommends that the Culture Secretary launch a consultation on using his powers under the Development of Tourism Act 1969 to establish a low-cost statutory registration scheme for tourism accommodation businesses. Such a scheme could be devolved to councils and would help resolve the main issues identified by this Inquiry. Namely, it would:

  • Help ensure that all businesses complied with regulation.
  • Provide enforcement officers with a database of tourism accommodation properties so that they could target their resources to those properties they deem to be the highest risk.
  • Provide HMRC with a means to ensure that all businesses pay the appropriate level of taxation.

A huge amount of work is required to see this through, and the discussion around this subject will be fully covered at the SWTA Conference, details above.

Package Travel Regulations Update

This is quite the worst piece of legislation that SWTA has ever seen and we have lobbied hard to try and get it changed, sadly to no avail. Government Policy is not to cherry pick European Legislation at this time, and this hopeless piece of legislation has been gold plated. The majority of tourism businesses are likely to fall foul of these regulations which are overly complex in nature. To that end SWTA has been working with the national Tourism Alliance to prepare a Q and A so that businesses can easily see if what they do is affected and what can be done to mitigate the effect. This will be published on the SWTA website shortly and this will be publicised via the STWA twitter account.

Government Announcements

Devon and Somerset £2.5 mill Skills training pot

Small and medium sized enterprises in Devon and Somerset are urged to take advantage of a £2.5m skills training pot for their workforce, as a result of a contract extension until March 2019.  The training is available as part of a programme named Heart of the South West Apprenticeship Service which Serco’s Employment, Skills & Enterprise business manages across Devon and Somerset – working in partnership with the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).  Businesses can contact Serco on or 01752 968026 for more details and to find out if they are eligible for funded training and business support.  More at

LEP review looks good for Tourism

The Government has carried out a review of the performance of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP’s) and made some substantial changes. Those businesses in the SW that may have felt that tourism was not properly on the agenda will be pleased to read the summary review below. Excuse the length of the Government statement below, wanted to give full context. We have highlighted in red for those of you who just want the highlights
Role and responsibilities:
Government will:

  • Publish a statement on the role and responsibilities of LEPs. LEPs will focus on enhancing productivity. This will be achieved through the development and delivery of their Local Industrial Strategy.  
  • Publish a further statement on Local Industrial Strategies to guide locally-led work. This statement will be published over the summer. Government will aim to agree Local Industrial Strategies with all areas of England by early 2020.
  • Commission an annual economic outlook to independently measure economic performance across all LEPs and the areas they cover.

Government will support all LEPs to:

  • Develop an evidence-based Local Industrial Strategy that sets out a long-term economic vision for their area based on local consultation.
  • Publish an annual delivery plan and end of year report. This will include key performance indicators to assess the impact of their Local Industrial Strategy, funding and interventions. It will inform objective assessment on LEP performance.

 Leadership and organisational capacity:
Government will:

  • Increase regular dialogue with LEPs. This includes the Prime Minister chaired Council announced in the Industrial Strategy, as well as a senior official sponsor for every LEP from across government departments.
  • Actively work with LEPs to advertise opportunities for private sector leaders to become a LEP Chair when vacancies emerge. While these are not public appointments, we will offer to list vacancies on the Centre for Public Appointments website.
  • Offer an induction and training programme for LEP board members and officers on working with Government. We will work with the LEP Network, Local Government Association and other professional development bodies to develop this programme.
  • Provide up to £20 million between 2018-19 and 2019-20 in  additional capacity funding to support LEPs to implement the review and to provide the strategic and analytical capability needed to develop ambitious Local Industrial Strategies.

 Government will support LEPs to:

  • Consult widely and transparently with the business community before appointing a new Chair; and introduce defined term limits for Chairs and Deputy Chair.
  • Establish more representative boards of a maximum of 20 persons with the option to co-opt up to five additional board members. Our aspiration is that two-thirds of board members should be from the private sector;
  • Improve the gender balance and representation of those with protected characteristics on boards with an aim that women make up at least one third of LEP boards by 2020 with an expectation for equal representation by 2023, and ensuring all LEP boards are representative of the businesses and communities they serve.
  • Provide a secretariat independent of local government to support LEPs’ decision making.
  • Develop a strong local evidence base of economic strengths, weaknesses and comparative advantages within a national and international context.This will be supported by robust evaluation of individual projects and interventions.

 Accountability and performance:
Government will:

  • Continue to maintain overall accountability for the system of LEPs and local growth funding, and implement in full the recommendations of the Ney Review and any future recommendations that may be made as the performance of LEPs is scrutinised and reviewed.
  • Assess and publish annual performance against quantitative and qualitative measures set out within LEP delivery plans.
  • Set out within a revised National Assurance Framework a clear statement on an escalating approach to intervention in any instances where LEPs demonstrate that they are found to be underperforming.
  • Develop with the LEP Network and LEPs a sector-led approach to assessing and improving performance through regular peer review.

 Government will support all LEPs to:

  • Have a legal personality, such as incorporation as companies, or mayoral combined authorities or combined authorities where they exist.
  • Set out clearly and transparently the responsibilities of the Chair, Board, Director, and Accountable Body, including over spending decisions, appointments, and governance.
  • Actively participate in relevant local authority scrutiny panel enquiries to ensure effective and appropriate democratic scrutiny of their investment decisions.
  • Hold annual general meetings open to the public to attend to ensure the communities that they represent can understand and influence the economic plans for the area.

Government will:

  • Ask LEP Chairs and other local stakeholders to come forward with considered proposals by the end of September on geographies which best reflect real functional economic areas, remove overlaps and, where appropriate, propose wider changes such as mergers. Government will respond to these proposals in the autumn and future capacity funding will be contingent on successfully achieving this.

 Government will support all LEPs to:

  • Collaborate across boundaries where interests are aligned when developing strategies and interventions to maximise their impact across their different objectives.

 Mayoral combined authorities:
 Government will:

  • Consolidate its engagement with mayoral combined authorities and their LEPs with a collaborative approach to agreeing a Local Industrial Strategy.

 In mayoral combined authority areas, we will work with each LEP and mayoral combined authority to:

  • Ensure LEPs have a distinctive role in setting strategy and commissioning interventions to drive growth, jobs and private sector investment
  • Require LEPs and mayoral combined authorities to develop local agreements which clearly set out roles and responsibilities and accountability.
  • Encourage LEPs and mayoral combined authorities to move towards coterminous geographies where appropriate in line with the wider discussions on LEP geographies.

HMG will work with LEPs to develop revised proposals for geography by 28 September 2018 and a detailed plan for implementing the above changes before 31 October 2018. We will then work with LEPs, as above, to ensure these plans are implemented effectively across the country. To support this, Government will publish a revised National Assurance Framework. This will clearly define what is required of each LEP to be compliant and to receive future core and growth funding.

South West Tourism Alliance Twitter Account
We have over 8,000 followers. All tweets are relevant to the SW visitor economy and you can follow at @SWTourAlliance. We have tried to make sure that we follow all Members but if we are not following you, let us know.

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