VE and VB Merger Update
One of the contentious outcomes of the recent government Comprehensive Spending Review published in November was the proposal to merge VisitEngland (VE) with VisitBritain (VB). Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain, has confirmed that, in this proposal, funding for VE would be ring-fenced for England and there will be a separate VE brand. However, the Tourism Alliance has several concerns about the impact of this measure and the way it contradicts the recommendations also made in 2015 following the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee’s (DCMS) review of UK tourism delivery and its Triennial Review of both organisations.
Changes do need to be made, the Tourism Alliance acknowledges, as the current structure is awkward, and it concurred with the recommendations of the Select Committee review and the Triennial Reviw that there should be a clearer delineation in the roles of VB – to focus on international marketing – and VE – to be responsible for supporting the development of high quality tourism products in England, marketed domestically by VE and internationally by VB.
The effect of the proposed merger, says the Tourism Alliance, would reduce the role of VE to advisory status, and all decisions related to tourism development in England would be undertaken by the VB executive management team and the VB Board. The alignment of funding for England with VB’s overseas marketing fails to recognise that 80% of the value of the UK tourism industry comes from domestic tourism, and the new focus would mean that domestic tourism development and growth will be severely reduced to the detriment of the many destinations and businesses that rely on this market. The Tourism Alliance is raising these concerns within Government and have been meeting with DCMS and MPs with an interest in tourism.