Tourism firms’ anger with council over £7,000 report

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 A war of words has broken out between tourism business and city chiefs. Members of the Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance, BHTA, say they are angry that their voice is being ignored by Brighton and Hove City Council.

The BHTA represents major attractions such as the Sea Life Centre, Churchill Square Shopping Centre, the Palace Pier and the Hilton Brighton Metropole. Chairwoman Claire Ottewell claimed plans for greater involvement of business owners in the planning of tourism marketing had been shelved.

The Stepping Out consultancy, based in Suffolk, was paid £7,000 to draw up a report on a new structure for marketing Brighton and Hove as a tourist destination.

One of its key recommendations was the Brighton Centre should fund a “Destination Marketing Organisation” – a private firm which would carry out the work currently done by Visit Brighton. This would be also be funded by businesses and the public sector.

But Ms Ottewell now claims the Green-run council wants the marketing of the city to remain in-house with Visit Brighton.

She said: “We have spent 18 months campaigning for businesses to have a greater say on how tourism strategy is formulated. We are angry and frustrated that we are being marginalised.”

Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the Economic Development and Culture Committee at Brighton and Hove City Council, said the Stepping Out recommendations have been not been dropped.

He said: “The Tourism Alliance is simply wrong to claim that the administration has shelved the report it commissioned from Stepping Out.

“Work is ongoing and we will be announcing our response in due course. In the meantime, it is worth noting that the outcome of the Tourism Alliance’s own DMO workshop for industry experts and held on January 16 in the Brighthelm Centre were inconclusive that this was the correct option for Brighton and Hove.

“The administration will continue to work with both Visit Brighton’s 450 members and the Tourism Alliance’s 24 members to ensure that the sector’s voice is heard and reflected in its marketing of the city nationally and internationally.”

Tony Mernagh, executive director at the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, said: “The Tourism Alliance has some credible big-hitters in its membership and I would imagine that they are more than capable of winning the council over if they have constructive, well-thought-out ideas to offer.”

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Comments (3)

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8:55am Wed 20 Feb 13

Maxwell's Ghost says...

The in house team will have an impossible job of marketing the city now the Greens have trashed its reputation which is probably why the communication chief is leaving.
An impossible job particularly when the current party has not been transparent in its communication and consultations and the public have to resort to FoI requests to access the true information and fight mis information being peddled by some of the members.
The in house team will have an impossible job of marketing the city now the Greens have trashed its reputation which is probably why the communication chief is leaving. An impossible job particularly when the current party has not been transparent in its communication and consultations and the public have to resort to FoI requests to access the true information and fight mis information being peddled by some of the members. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 0

12:17pm Fri 22 Feb 13

Mylex58 says...

I can't really understand why the Tourism Alliance appears to be so against working with VisitBrighton. I also don't understand what are these amazing ideas from the Tourism Alliance which they seem to think would massively improve Brighton & Hove's tourism industry and claim the Council is refusing to embrace and/or implement?
I can't really understand why the Tourism Alliance appears to be so against working with VisitBrighton. I also don't understand what are these amazing ideas from the Tourism Alliance which they seem to think would massively improve Brighton & Hove's tourism industry and claim the Council is refusing to embrace and/or implement? Mylex58
  • Score: 0

2:20am Tue 26 Feb 13

BrightonNick says...

Mylex58 wrote:
I can't really understand why the Tourism Alliance appears to be so against working with VisitBrighton. I also don't understand what are these amazing ideas from the Tourism Alliance which they seem to think would massively improve Brighton & Hove's tourism industry and claim the Council is refusing to embrace and/or implement?
As a former vice-chair of the Tourism Alliance, I can whole-heartedly say that the TA isn't working against Visit Brighton nor the council, nor any other body or organisation. It is simply providing a voice for many of the key players in the visitor economy who have a mid-to-long term perspective on tourism and hospitality in the city and surrounding region. Members believe a Destination Management Organisation is not only desirable but also inevitable in the ongoing economic climate. I don't believe any individual member, nor the TA as a whole, has any wish to erode the very positive work of Visit Brighton. Someone has to market the city and Visit Brighton has demonstrated that it is more than capable of communicating nationally and internationally. The question is whether it's on-message, actively engaging with businesses, and has an eye on sustaining and developing our industry against intense pressure from other destinations. Visit Brighton is essentially a marketing and conferencing body; tourism 'strategy' is a concept that bounces back-and-forth between council departments and politicians, and that is a concern. Who is steering the ship?
What is desired is true public/private stakeholder engagement - being business-like and respecting our tourism and hospitality industries as such - rather than the tokenism that has been nurtured through the Visit Brighton 'Partnership', which I believe serves the council more than the industry (and our industry employs a substantial proportion of the city's population - directly or indirectly - and also creates the environment and culture which attracts the oft-quoted new media and creative professionals into the city).
Having seen a recent presentation from the CEO of Visit England that showed public perception of Brighton, compared to other UK visitor destinations, as distinctly 'average', if I were in the driving seat I'd be keen to have as much strategic input and support from tourism businesses as possible: ideas, resource, finance, business relationships? This is the proverbial 'gold dust'. And as an employer in the sector, I most certainly do not want to see Brighton slowly slide from average to somewhere I don't want to contemplate.
We are living in challenging times - a cursory glance over the city council's budget outline seems to show that we'll need to save £25 million every year for the next five years. No politician - of any colour - can wave a magic wand and make the economic mountain we face disappear. Which is why thinking smart, working with partners in the private and third sectors (particularly in non-statutory areas) absolutely has to be the way forward. Would the owners, operators and general managers of major tourism and hospitality businesses waste their time on pushing for greater engagement (through the TA or otherwise) if they didn't think it was good for our city, and thus their own business interests. For those of us operating in the harsh reality of the private sector, time is money.
Do not believe for one instance that the Tourism Alliance or its membership are negative: they are realists.
[quote][p][bold]Mylex58[/bold] wrote: I can't really understand why the Tourism Alliance appears to be so against working with VisitBrighton. I also don't understand what are these amazing ideas from the Tourism Alliance which they seem to think would massively improve Brighton & Hove's tourism industry and claim the Council is refusing to embrace and/or implement?[/p][/quote]As a former vice-chair of the Tourism Alliance, I can whole-heartedly say that the TA isn't working against Visit Brighton nor the council, nor any other body or organisation. It is simply providing a voice for many of the key players in the visitor economy who have a mid-to-long term perspective on tourism and hospitality in the city and surrounding region. Members believe a Destination Management Organisation is not only desirable but also inevitable in the ongoing economic climate. I don't believe any individual member, nor the TA as a whole, has any wish to erode the very positive work of Visit Brighton. Someone has to market the city and Visit Brighton has demonstrated that it is more than capable of communicating nationally and internationally. The question is whether it's on-message, actively engaging with businesses, and has an eye on sustaining and developing our industry against intense pressure from other destinations. Visit Brighton is essentially a marketing and conferencing body; tourism 'strategy' is a concept that bounces back-and-forth between council departments and politicians, and that is a concern. Who is steering the ship? What is desired is true public/private stakeholder engagement - being business-like and respecting our tourism and hospitality industries as such - rather than the tokenism that has been nurtured through the Visit Brighton 'Partnership', which I believe serves the council more than the industry (and our industry employs a substantial proportion of the city's population - directly or indirectly - and also creates the environment and culture which attracts the oft-quoted new media and creative professionals into the city). Having seen a recent presentation from the CEO of Visit England that showed public perception of Brighton, compared to other UK visitor destinations, as distinctly 'average', if I were in the driving seat I'd be keen to have as much strategic input and support from tourism businesses as possible: ideas, resource, finance, business relationships? This is the proverbial 'gold dust'. And as an employer in the sector, I most certainly do not want to see Brighton slowly slide from average to somewhere I don't want to contemplate. We are living in challenging times - a cursory glance over the city council's budget outline seems to show that we'll need to save £25 million every year for the next five years. No politician - of any colour - can wave a magic wand and make the economic mountain we face disappear. Which is why thinking smart, working with partners in the private and third sectors (particularly in non-statutory areas) absolutely has to be the way forward. Would the owners, operators and general managers of major tourism and hospitality businesses waste their time on pushing for greater engagement (through the TA or otherwise) if they didn't think it was good for our city, and thus their own business interests. For those of us operating in the harsh reality of the private sector, time is money. Do not believe for one instance that the Tourism Alliance or its membership are negative: they are realists. BrightonNick
  • Score: 0

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