The Family Holiday Association is just one of a wealth of organisations in Britain working in the field of social tourism, improving access to breaks for those who cannot normally afford them, for a multitude of reasons.
But uniquely, over the years the Family Holiday Association has acted as a champion of social tourism, supporting research, working with partners and trying to explain both the social and economic value of social tourism.
The charity supported the All Party Parliamentary Group’s Social Tourism report, Giving Britain a Break, that was put together back in 2011 under the auspices of the Chairman, Paul Maynard MP.
We believe it is time to do a further push on social tourism. This was the purpose of the April round table during which we heard from a number of different groups who since 2011 have come on board and done some amazing work. You can read the report from the meeting in Westminster here.
Some of the key issues and actions that were raised are detailed below.
Developing a technology platform
This was conceived along the same principles of the tourism participation centre at Tourism Flanders. It would provide an easy to use platform where professionals working with families can access offers uploaded by tourism and attraction businesses. The challenges facing this proposition relate to reach and resource – whether a national platform could be created and how much funding this would need.
Agreed Action: Research to be undertaken into the cost and potential of developing a UK social tourism platform to unite and facilitate the work of all stakeholders.
Creating a unifying narrative
It was noted that various stakeholders were promoting different aspects or benefits of the social tourism concept. Contributors agreed that a single narrative was needed to unite all parties behind clear messages to take to policy-makers. These could be supported by complementary messaging and information. Of the political issues discussed, the importance of family welfare, children’s life chances and strengthening social justice, were identified as important narrative themes. Such a narrative also needs to be shaped with the interests of tourism businesses in mind, and must be appealing to their commercial considerations.
Agreed Action: Work to begin on shaping a new narrative and messages to promote social tourism with key policy makers.
Whilst it was agreed that social tourism champions were not seeking considerable sums of money, it was acknowledged that some seed funding would be needed to kick-start more pilot scheme and technology platform initiatives. Visit Kent outlined to the round table its efforts to apply for funding from the Discover England Fund. Whilst this process is ongoing it was agreed that other sources of support may need to be explored. The resources of university research departments were cited as potential sources of support.
Agreed Action: Support Visit Kent’s Discover England Fund whilst exploring other funding sources, such as university research departments and government funding schemes.
Communicating with government
Despite the wide-ranging support for social tourism initiatives and evidence of its benefits, it was acknowledged that more progress needed to be made in getting the concept on the radar of the Government in Westminster. It was note that complications arose from social tourism activities and benefits coming under the remit of a range of departments – Education, Culture, Media and Sport and Work and Pensions. Contributors agreed that a compelling social and economic case needed to be presented to ministers along with a strong narrative and messaging. The inter-ministerial group for tourism and the Cabinet Committee on social justice were identified as important gatherings of ministers to approach.
Agreed Action: Initial steps to be taken to contact the Department for Work and Pensions Secretary of State to explore his potential interest in social tourism.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about our work.