The Prime Minister recently announced his new Five Point Plan to boost tourism right across the UK, with a particular focus on regions outside of London. The apparent aim of this move is to spread the benefits of one of the country’s fastest-growing sectors beyond the capital, helping to create jobs and rebalance the economy.
So how can the PR industry play a part in helping drive this new government strategy?
David Cameron’s first of the five points demands a better co-ordinated sector with greater collaborations between tourist brands, bodies and boards. This unified voice would make for a stronger tourism message both domestically and for inbound footfall.
The role of comms should not be underplayed in making this work as the discipline has a wealth of experience in giving structure and co-ordination to stakeholder sectors such as tourism.
The PM’s second point was to focus on filling roles and retaining talent, which is an historic issue and an Achilles heel of the industry. This is largely owing to the perception and sometimes reality of unsociable hours, low pay and seasonable work.
While these areas need to be addressed, what is clear is that a specific and targeted PR campaign is required to promote the fact that a career in hospitality and tourism is not just a low-skilled job and can lead to a long-term and successful career. Increasing the visibility of apprenticeship places is another area that PR can work to support.
Stronger partnerships between the transport and the tourism sectors is as vital for sustained growth, particularly in rural and coastal areas of the UK.
Comms’ role in this process is firstly to bridge the gap between the two sectors and then offer guidance on how best to communicate this relationship in a strategic and creative way through editorial and promotional coverage.
Another option would be to look at the cost of a domestic holiday, as competing with overseas package deals is increasingly difficult. Alternatively, comms should be more strategic in promoting the value for money aspect of a UK holiday and the idea of supporting local industries and economies.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of The British Hospitality Association, has been quoted saying: "Joined-up government leadership will enable our vision for the UK to become the world’s hospitality and tourism powerhouse, attracting more visitors, creating more jobs and strengthening local economies to the benefit of all society."
This thought process should be applied not only to the Government’s strategy but also to an adaptable comms blueprint rolled out across all regions of the UK that could be accessed by all domestic travel brands.
A more effective and collaborative PR strategy was arguably the missing sixth point in the Government’s plan. This would help showcase an even clearer and visible commitment from the industry to work together as strategic partners to promote the UK’s tourism offering to potential visitors from all over the world.
Karl Webster, head of travel & leisure, Diffusion PR