Monday, 1 August 2016

Brexit: and Devon

Cornwall has its issues following the referendum:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Cornwall

In Devon, there are equally mixed messages.

Today's Guardian posts a very interesting piece from the Devon-based editor of the Resurgence magazine:
‘Brexit is a distraction … creating all these divisions is a waste of time’ | Media | The Guardian

Here is a piece from today's Express & Echo - with a photo of an award-winning East Devon business:

Will Brexit vote lead to a boom in staycations in Devon?

By GRichardson | Posted: August 01, 2016

Ruud Jansen Venneboer and his wife Jacqueline at Mazzard Farm

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Devon tourism businesses have reported mixed fortunes in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

The vote for Brexit has led to a sharp drop in bookings for some businesses as the political and economic uncertainty impacts on consumer confidence, while others expect the fall in value of sterling to lead to a boom in staycations.

Mazzard Farm, a complex of self-catering holiday cottages near Ottery St Mary, saw bookings fall 60 per cent in the three weeks after the referendum compared to the three weeks leading up to polling day.

Owner Ruud Jansen Venneboer said enquiries were also 40 per cent down, while the business had taken no bookings for 2017 since the referendum.  On a more positive note, bookings from overseas visitors were up 50 per cent but still only account for a small proportion of overall revenue.

“We have been here eight years so we have been through the full economic downturn and all its trials and tribulations,” said Ruud. “After signs of some economic recovery in the first half of this year, consumer confidence has collapsed again. Fortunately we were more or less fully booked for this summer, but it could impact on the autumn.

“We had quite a few bookings for 2017 in June and we haven’t had one since the referendum. People are concerned about their jobs and committing to booking a holiday months in advance. Non-UK bookings are up but that’s never going to compensate for the bigger picture. Uncertainty is never a good thing for the travel industry because travel is one of the first things people stop booking. It’s unfortunate that we were on a little high for a while, then this self-inflicted crisis comes along.”

Alistair Handyside, chairman of the South West Tourism Alliance, said: “It’s not great out there at the moment because there’s uncertainty, but I wouldn’t say we are in the doldrums. It’s been much tougher and quieter than it is now. 
This isn’t usually the busiest time of year for bookings – one would expect to see an uplift towards the end of August and early September because people like to have their next holiday booked when they’re back to work.”

He added: “I haven’t seen the expected staycation rush that everybody thought we were going to get because of the exchange rate. We have had sterling fluctuations before and the effect is pretty marginal. The weaker pound has a more profound effect on the number of foreign holidays people take than it increases domestic holidays.”

However, the weaker pound is fuelling a growing trend for staycations, according to the Devon Hotels and Restaurants Association.

Honorary secretary Derek Phillips said: “Members are reporting an unprecedented increase in customers enjoying domestic holidays. Thanks to the strong visitor numbers and occupancy during the summer of 2015, hoteliers and restaurateurs had been preparing for a positive year ahead. But I don’t think any of them could have anticipated quite the influx we have experienced. The members have really upped their game and are exceeding the requirements of a tide of visitors looking for more than a cream tea and a walk on the moor.”

According to ABTA, there have been strong sales for domestic holidays this year, with many going to Devon, Cornwall and the Channel Islands. The travel association reported a 13 per cent increase in people taking domestic holidays last year – a phenomenon that was forecast to increase further throughout 2016.

Derek added: “Devon is experiencing a real golden age at the moment within the tourism industry. With the results reported by our members the association is looking forward to continued success and another hugely popular year, both this and the next. For now the efforts of our hotels, restaurants and activity providers have put our fantastic county firmly on the map for domestic and international visitors alike.”

Meanwhile, Visit South Devon has launched a new holiday special offers app to help visitors make their money go further by taking advantage of discounts on local accommodation, food and drink, activities and entertainment.

Thought to be one of the first apps of its kind to be launched by a destination marketing organisation, the South Devon Holiday Offers app is free to download on both Apple and Android devices. It is updated daily to give visitors and locals the latest deals and discounts across South Devon, the English Riviera, East Devon, Mid Devon and Exeter. Current offers include two-for-one entry to Exeter Cathedral.

Sarah Stride, acting general manager for Visit South Devon, said: “In recent weeks we have seen the pound fall in value, which means that overseas trips are less affordable for UK residents, while visitors from the continent and beyond are able to pick up great deals here in the South West. Our hope is that by launching this app now tourism businesses across South Devon, the English Riviera, Mid Devon, East Devon and Exeter will benefit from last minute staycations and an influx of overseas visitors.”

Will Brexit vote lead to a boom in staycations in Devon? | Exeter Express and Echo
Asda and Tesco slash petrol prices giving staycation drivers a BOOST | Personal Finance | Finance | Daily Express
Brexit boom: Millions flock to British beaches | Daily Star
Devon here we come | Home | The Times & The Sunday Times

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