Are We Making More Trips Or Not?
It is becoming a little difficult to work out whether we are travelling more or not. And if we are, what it means. You might have heard yesterday that the royal wedding caused a dip in our economic growth in the second quarter of the year. As did the tsunami, the Indian summer, the sale of Olympic tickets and probably the fact that I wore blue socks on the day. I would have thought the royal wedding was good for the economy because it encouraged visitors to come into the country and us to travel about over that four day holiday. But what do I know? Come to think of it, what do economists know since they disagree amongst themselves.
Visit Britain says that there was an 11% increase in visitors in the period from March to May and they spent £3.9 billion. Doesn’t that mean we had £400 million extra ploughed into the economy? Yet in the last twelve months we have had an increase of just £495 million suggesting most of the increase came in just one short period, ie when the wedding occurred and we had sunny weather.
From Visit England comes information from the first quarter that shows visits by us to attractions was up 7%, and the number of trips we made just within England was up by 4%. It was to gardens, wildlife attractions and farms (hug a new born lamb type visits) that we went. But it wasn’t to the big cities, or at least not to stay overnight. Glasgow had the biggest European drop in average daily rates paid for hotel rooms where they declined by 16% last month according to the consultants, STR Global.
It’s all very confusing but so important. Earlier this week I was listening to Vera Kobalia, the Minister for Economy and Sustainable Development (which includes tourism) in Georgia. She is overseeing a tremendous dash for growth in her country but sees tourism as vital. Although there are massive opportunities in making money from hydro-electricity and selling power to nearby countries it won’t provide many jobs as it is so high-tech. But tourism will provide the jobs so that is why tourism is expanding so rapidly. (More on this next week)
And the same applies just as much in our countries. Whether we visit more places or just make more visits is important to all of us. In reply to Julie Elliot MP, John Penrose, the tourism minister, said that we make 24 million overnight trips per year just to the seaside and that he wants to grow the domestic market as a whole.
All well and good but even better if we had some figures so that we could understand what we are doing.