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Cornwall biggest export market – what next for overseas tourism?

falmouth cornwall
You may have noticed an upsurge in chatter about exporting in Cornwall, as a result of the recent Export for Growth program. Administered by the Dept of International Trade in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, it is providing various social media workshops, grants, matched funding, as well as business advice. However, you may be surprised to hear that Cornwall’s biggest export opportunity actually begins with importing, but struggles to receive any meaningful support at all.

In this case we are talking about importing overseas visitors who provide exactly the same economic effect as sending Cornish products abroad. They bring their Euros, Dollars and Yuan here, spending them on our goods and services in £, but Cornwall has no plan or long term strategy for overseas tourism.

Tourism is perennially seen as the poor relation in economic planning for Cornwall, never a priority, and we’re always trying to reduce dependence on it. Yet for the very first time, recent EU funds allowed tourism related projects to be considered, but again were completely overlooked in favour of a number of ‘trendier’ industries and projects.

But is it such a straightforward decision to ignore the industry like this? If we look at what overseas tourism brings to the economy we could be missing a trick.

At Ulaub Cornwall Travel Servces we believe tourism should be considered, particularly international, as part of the solution and not the problem. At the very basic level, just substituting higher value overseas visitors for domestic ones benefits the economy, but contrary to popular opinion and what you see on the news Cornwall is not full, and large pockets of capacity remain unused… just ask any accommodation business.

By developing a demand for Cornwall, via the travel trade in other countries, we can deliver unique economic benefits. Not just to the tourism industry, but the wider economy and local supply chains. These visitors and much of their spend drops through to the bottom line as we already have a huge tourist infrastructure in place, resulting in a tremendous gearing of returns; while Cornwall always needs new first time visitors to become our new repeat visitors.

The travel trade moves slowly due to its yearly holiday cycle, but once in brochure, their successful products can sustain for many years. While boosting ‘Brand Cornwall’ internationally can be leveraged by all businesses and encourage new ones looking to locate here.

So what can be done to develop overseas tourism? Private businesses will do what they can with the resources they have, trying to be as nimble and creative as possible. They understand that consistent effort over time builds relationships and delivers long term results.

Should we rely on funding and backing from local or national Government? The answer is a clear no, because this breeds inefficiency and a dependency culture. Targeted support for tightly focused, costed and proven projects will deliver for Cornwall, such as in our main market Germany. Cornwall as a destination should be out there communicating, encouraging and developing contacts and new partnerships.

Urlaub Cornwall Travel Services has over the last few years been building a network amongst some of the best operators in Europe and the US, as well as partnering niche specialists. As a result, new destinations such as the Isles of Scilly will, for the first time, feature in the inventories of these companies in 2019. Additionally we’re also running a large number of Alumni groups from across the States next year; the UK’s biggest inbound market where Cornwall hasn’t even scratched the surface.

And right now the tremendous news of four daily connections to Heathrow and two direct flights from Germany to Newquay Airport should energise all private and public stakeholders to back Cornwall and grab this opportunity. UrlaubCornwall are already promoting Flydrive products to operators to exploit these. For Cornwall’s wider economy to thrive, we all need a healthy airport in Cornwall.

We work as the only specialist Destination Management Company in Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly offering ground services to the travel trade in all overseas markets. UrlaubCornwall also operates the number one website in German speaking Europe for holidays in Cornwall.

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