On one of those business social media websites, one guest house owner has written that his local tourist board will be a victim of the cutbacks. He then asks the million dollar question. Will anybody notice? It’s a brave question. Everyone likes to think that the work they do is effective but very often you only notice the effect of what you do when it is no longer being done.
So can we visitors do with less from tourist boards, destinations and so on if local authorities cut back on their tourism spend. After all, wouldn’t many of us prefer to see wards and schools kept open, social services retained and potholes filled in rather than seeing another tourist pamphlet? Do some of the tourist boards need to have a new logo every other year (it seems like it with some of them!) or call themselves something different. One year it is Seaside Tourist Board, then Visit Seaside, Welcome to Seaside, then Seaside: Where Sand and Water Meet and so on. The idea behind it all is to get publicity for their areas but does it do anymore than provide stories for the travel trade media which, we the visitors, don’t read. But a lot of money is spent on re branding. Do we care? And ultimately it is we, the visitor, that matter because if we don’t visit as a result of this marketing effort, it’s been a waste of money. But if one destination doesn’t market itself, another will. Human nature being what it is, we respond to advertising. For that reason it is often the one that shouts loudest (ie advertises the most) that attracts our attention.
If you go into any tourist office there will be hundreds of different brochures covering everything from guest houses to attractions to walking tours geared to every imaginable theme they can come up with. Do we need umpteen different accommodation guides? For attractions, the issue is different. They need a brochure to stand out from those that don’t have one but do they need to be in all those guides to Seaside, South Seaside, Seaside and Surrounds, Seasideshire and whatever else is around. How many brochures do you look at before you decide? Or do you just use the internet?
The importance of tourism over the last two has been shown by the fact that we cut back on our spending but still want holidays. The value of us – as visitors – is important because if we visit we bring money to the local economy which brings jobs. So destinations, attractions, guest houses need to attract us. And the answer to Bob at the Tudor House at Bell Busk near Skipton, for it is he who posed the question, is that we will notice the difference if the tourist boards cut the wrong things.