I was at a meeting of Cornwall Council's Tourism Panel this morning where the Head of Visit Cornwall, Malcolm Bell, gave a presentation on future directions for the tourism service. Although Malcolm was keen to point out that there were no definitive proposals as yet, two significant items came out of the meeting:
The first is that, with huge budget cuts all around, the tourism service is intensely vulnerable to cuts. In Cornwall, the income from tourism is the equivalent to £3000 for every man woman and child who lives here. We have 88% repeat visitors (ie people who come back to Cornwall on holiday within 5 years) but the average length of stay has been hit by the recession (down from 7.5 days to just under 7 days). The Visit Cornwall survey shows that Cornwall is resilient to a possible resurgence in the value of the pound against the Euro (just 6% of people said they would go to Europe rather than Cornwall if they got more Euros for their pound). With such opportunities, it would, in my view, be wholly wrong to single out the tourism service from cuts above and beyond the average.
The second, and perhaps more worrying, concern is that, as a result of a proposed change in the law, Cornwall may consider a tourism tax to raise money. This could take a number of forms but all would have the effect of making Cornwall a more expensive place to visit. It is being stressed that this is still being treated as an option, rather than a proposal, but would, in my view, constitute killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.