15/12/2010 New research from The Tourism Company sheds light on the likely effects of public sector budget cuts on local tourism services


Research launched today by The Tourism Company sheds light on the effect that expected public sector budget cuts in the tourism sector are likely to have on local tourism delivery plans over the next two years. The research, conducted over the course of Summer 2010, takes a particular look at how shrinking budgets are set to impact on tourist/visitor information centres - traditionally one of the largest single areas of expenditure within local tourism budgets.

Click here for a downloadable summary of the main findings.

Key findings

  • Three quarters of respondents (75%) are predicting cuts to their tourism budgets over the next two years. One in ten (10%) expect cuts of over 40%, with just over one third (34%) anticipating cuts in the region of 20-40%. A further 31%  expect reductions to be in the range of 0-20%. Only a quarter (25%) expect to see no change or an increase in budgets.

  • Plans for budget cutting are at a fairly advanced stage for well over half (61%) of respondents. Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) have already been asked to identify savings. Around a fifth (22%) say that cuts/savings are actively being discussed

  • Front-line tourism services appear most vulnerable to cuts. Amongst those expecting budget reductions, advertising is top of the list in terms of areas earmarked for cuts (40% say they are certain or very likely to cut). Reductions in spending on exhibitions are being contemplated by just under one third (32%). Printed brochures and leaflets also look set to be hit, with 29% of respondents slating them for cuts.

  • Reductions in tourism staffing are being actively considered by almost 1 in 5. 19% of those expecting cuts said that they were certain/very likely to see cuts amongst tourism staff (not including TIC staff).

  • Engagement with the tourism business sector appears relatively safe. Only 8% are certain/very likely to cut in this area.

  • Spending on tourism ICT appears well protected. Only 12% were certain/very likely to cut Tourism ICT / Destination Management Platforms. Websites also seem to be low down on the list of areas to be cut, with only 7% certain to/very likely to cut.

What it means for TICs

  • Over a third are looking to make cuts to their TIC service. The survey found that 37% of those facing budget reductions are certain or very likley to cut their Tourist Information Centre budgets and/or staffing within them.

  • Approaching 1 in 5 (18%) of those expecting tourism budget cuts are planning to close one or more TIC. Over one third (38%) are planning reductions in opening hours at TICs whilst 3 in 10 (30%) are contemplating a reduction in TIC staff. Over a quarter (27%) are planning to amalgamate TICs with other council services

About the survey

The research was carried out by The Tourism Company with co-operation from Visit England between August and September 2010. An online survey was sent to a sample of tourism budget holders within local authorities, Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) and a range of other private and public sector bodies. A total of 153 responses were received.