Everyone knows that the cost of living is constantly increasing at the moment, but what does this mean for tourism businesses and how should you respond to the challenges we face in the coming months? Businesses in the tourism and leisure sector will be impacted in two ways.
Firstly, the rise in energy bills, supply chains and increased costs to recruit and retain staff will all contribute to higher operational costs.
Secondly, a reduction in disposable income and concerns about household financial security is already having a negative impact on consumer confidence resulting in reduced demand and footfall for leisure and hospitality businesses.
The Energy Bills Discount Scheme runs for 12 months from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024.
This scheme replaces the Energy Bill Relief Scheme which supported businesses and organisations between 1 October 2022 and 31 March 2023.
The Chancellor announced a package of targeted support which he says will help business with rates to the tune of £13.6bn over the next five years, and in particular hospitality and leisure along with retail are highlighted for support.
HM Treasury have published a full Business Rates Factsheet which goes into detail, but specifically on retail, hospitality and leisure:
This webpage includes details on how we’ll be monitoring the impact on Kent tourism businesses and how you can contribute feedback, as well as the work we’re doing with national industry partners to lobby on behalf of the sector. We’ve collated links to available funding and useful resources to help you make positive adjustments to reduce costs. We’ve also included details on how we’ll be adapting our visitor communications and useful links to help you prepare and include your own value-for-money messages in your comms. We’ll continue to update this page throughout the year so please do continue to check back.
While all of this might seem concerning, the pandemic has proved that we are a dynamic and resilient industry. By preparing and working together, and with the support of our residents, we know that the unique landscapes, food and drink, heritage, and experiences can continue to attract people, even at a time where people are being more selective about where they spend their money.
The Visit Kent team are constantly accessing the impact on the cost of living on the sector in the following ways:
We will also be constantly updating our business website and sharing the latest impact data through our insights e-newsletters and business social media accounts (Linkedin and Twitter) so keep an eye out for these.
If at any point you would like to share any information or concerns about the impact of the cost of living on your business, then please get in touch with us firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be working with national industry partners such as Tourism Alliance and UK Hospitality to push for a continued package of support tailored to the unique challenges of the tourism and hospitality sector. Our CEO Deirdre Wells OBE has a seat at the table of Tourism Alliance Board and the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group (TIER). We will feed in our data and insights gathered through the barometer and other sources to help us to send a powerful message back to national government.
We have a dedicated page on this website we have collated links to relevant grants that are available for Kent tourism businesses to access many of which are specifically aimed at supporting businesses to reduce carbon and therefore energy costs.
As part of our long-term strategy, we aim to reduce the environmental impact of the visitor economy by encouraging consumer behaviour change and supporting businesses to improve sustainability in the work environment. Making these changes will not only reduce your carbon footprint and help you appeal to an environmentally conscious audience, but also help you to reduce costs. On this page, you will also find links to a variety of useful resources and checklists which can help improve your sustainability credentials but also reduce overheads within your business.
As consumers become more cautious about their spending, we need to work harder to communicate the value that a day out or short break in Kent can provide. While consumers may be more selective about their discretionary spending and looking for last-minute deals, they are still keen to spend quality time with friends and family, even if this is closer to home or for a mini getaway. Visit Kent will be working hard to position the county to people across the South-East as an easily accessible destination, without the high fuel costs, where they don’t need to compromise on experience. Encouraging residents to support local businesses, explore what’s on their doorstep, and welcome friends and family to the county will also continue to be a focus. We have three ways in which we’re supporting businesses when it comes to communicating value and creating loyalty:
Throughout the year, Visit Kent will ensure our consumer features are used to communicate the value of a day out or short break with family and friends within the county. Messaging will highlight the importance of spending time together and the value of experiences, particularly when it comes to quality inter-generational family time.
Key feature themes will include affordable days out, spring breaks for families, which highlight early bird deals, and Christmas gift ideas that go beyond material presents and provide the gift of an experience or year-long memberships that provide value through multiple days out.
Features such as our Instagrammable winter views and walks features will also pair free activities such as a walk or view, with suggestions for extending a day out with optional small expenditures such as coffee in a café, lunch in a pub, or entry to a museum. We are also sharing messaging around local produce and the importance of supporting local businesses, presenting our local producers as offering quality products and services to the consumer, with reduced travel miles.
Overall messaging will present our destination as a place that can offer quality time to consumers and excellent value experiences and breaks.