An economic opportunity and not a nuisance

Deirdre Wells OBE, spent 20-years in Government at the DCMS, before she became Chief Executive of Ukinbound. Speaking at bacta’s Fish and Chips on the Pier reception, she highlighted the strong links that exist between amusements and tourism


“It is a real pleasure to be here tonight. This location is the living embodiment of our work as Associations : Brighton – the destination of choice for holidaymakers and party conferences for decades. The Mecca of Tourism and Lobbying!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is hard to be beside the seaside without feeling in the holiday mood. The lifting of spirits, the shedding of cares and worries, and the sense of the endless possibilities and adventure, are part of parcel of what make holidays special. Whether Party Conferences have the same effect only the honourable Members here present can confirm…

Tonight is an opportunity to celebrate our industry and our ability to deliver that Holiday feeling to millions of people in the UK and from abroad. I am equally sure that there are many such meetings taking place tonight alongside the Conference, but I’m sure that the gigs at the Society of Actuaries or the Society of Waste Management will be nowhere near as fun. Our day-job is making memories, helping people relax and rejuvenate and building communities, jobs and business whilst we’re about it.

As we meet here in Brighton – the home of the original British seaside holiday – and we celebrate the role of the arcade and amusement industry in supporting seaside holidays for centuries, I couldn’t help thinking that our industry is very much like that pinnacle of arcade games, the Vegas of gaming machines – the 2p Falls.

And here I must declare an interest. I come from a long line of 2p fall gamblers. But my parents were at the forefront of the responsible gambling campaign. Or at least my Dad was. Back in the 70’s the rules in my family were clear. You were given a bag of 2ps at the beginning of the trip to the arcade and win lose or draw, when that bag was empty, “don’t come whinging for more”. This rule was, however, regularly flouted by my Mum who was frequently seen to be pleading with my Dad for just one more as “I think it’s going to go any second…”

But back to my stretched analogy between the tourism industry and the 2p Falls. There are many influences on an individual’s choice of holiday destination. Have they seen an advert? Did they get a personal recommendation? Have they been before and had a good time? Is the price right? Have currency fluctuations suddenly made us more competitive? Have they watched a TV programme and thought “Where’s that? I want to go there?”

Consumers are being bombarded with information and choices from all angles – so how do we make them choose the UK? So let’s load the machine. A properly funded marketing campaign. A destination management structure to support local businesses. Investment in place-making – ensuring our destinations are clean and beautiful. World-class product – innovative, customer-focussed and welcoming. And a skilled and smiley workforce.

As in so many paths to success, collaboration is key. Just as my Mum couldn’t have made her millions without that final 2p from my Dad, so working together in our industry is critical. We need our businesses to provide the 2ps of world-class product; we need our policy makers to provide the 2ps of skills, place-making and proper funding for our tourist boards, and to ensure that wherever we end up with the BREXIT negotiations, our visitors have a smooth and welcoming experience at the border and our businesses have a workforce to deliver it; and finally, we need our public to put their 2ps in – to see our industry as an economic opportunity not a nuisance.

If we all work together, Ladies and Gentlemen, I do believe that we can hit the Tourism 2p jackpot!”

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