It's time for East Anglia's tourism industry to be heard
PUBLISHED: 06:00 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:29 28 February 2019
Now in its 13th year, the annual Tourism Business Survey is now live, inviting firms across the region to join forces and take part. Caroline Culot went along to the launch to find out more.
Businesses in the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector – worth a whopping £10bn to the East Anglian economy – are being urged to join together and be heard with a collective voice.
The Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Business Survey is a vital tool to enable the sector to identify issues and trends.
The driving force behind the survey is the uniting of different businesses – some of which will be competing in the sector – and giving them one voice to be heard by key decision makers.
The survey was launched in Southwold by Larking Gowen, chartered accountants and business advisors, and is supported by organisations such as Visit East Anglia, Visit Essex, Visit Norfolk and Visit Suffolk.
All businesses in the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector including restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions as well as retailers in the tourism hotspots are being encouraged to participate in the independent survey.
To take part click here
Participants in the survey can receive a tailored report which analyses their yearly performance, giving them a valuable benchmarking planning tool.
Those who fill in the survey remain anonymous in the published report, which provides an annual snapshot of the sector across East Anglia.
The survey includes questions about the short and long term impact of issues including Brexit, the National Living Wage, the National Minimum Wage and delves into questions around the use of plastics, profit margins and more generally how businesses have performed in the last 12 months.
The results are published as an annual brochure, which includes features and news stories about participating businesses who have chosen to publicise their successes.
Many of the businesses that provide services to this sector fully support the annual survey and this year the survey is sponsored by Adnams, Camplings and Howes Percival.
Speaking at the launch Chris Scargill, partner at Larking Gowen, said: “There are many issues facing this sector – consumer trends are changing, there is a change in the high street and especially with food as more people are staying in and that creates competition for the local pubs and restaurants.
“We also have economic uncertainty and employment issues, with high employment it creates competition for staff. It’s also about how we bring people here rather than them going to Cornwall or the Lake District and about creating greater awareness.”
Andy Wood, CEO of Adnams and chairman of Visit East of England, as well as an ambassador and sponsor of the survey, said: “It’s really important that businesses come together in the region.”
He added that there was a change in customer expectations and that East Anglia needed to “fight its corner” against other parts of the UK. He said it came down to the “value of the proposition” offered in the region.
David Field, CEO of the Zoological Society of East Anglia, in charge of Banham Zoo, near Diss in Norfolk, and Africa Alive! in Kessingland, Suffolk, and an ambassador for the survey, said when he took over the position moving into the region from his former position at London Zoo, the 2018 survey had been invaluable.
“It identifies national issues but puts them into a local context,” he said. “It’s a collaborative insight into what you need to invest in and what your competitors are doing.”
What are the challenges facing the sector and why is the survey so important?
Richard Turvill, owner of Camplings Linens, ambassador and sponsor, and whose business provides a laundry service to the sector, said: “The challenges we face are seasonality, being reactive and being energy efficient.”
Judith Phillips, ambassador, who owns Kentwell Hall, a stately home in Suffolk, said it was the continuous rising costs which was one of the biggest challenges. To generate income, new ideas were needed such as the Halloween-themed Scaresville, an event in October which has become a top visitor attraction. “It’s making people laugh after they scream,” she added.
Ruth Knight, chairwoman of Visit the Broads, said: “All the businesses are so diverse so to have one voice is a fabulous opportunity.”
Tarnia Robertson, managing director of Ufford Park Hotel in Suffolk, said: “We are trying to focus on our customer service, that is how we are trying to differentiate ourselves from the competition.”
And Jo Nicholls, from sponsors law firm Howes Percival, said they had clients in the sector: “We think it’s a really good opportunity for clients to have a voice.”