Attractions industry news

24 Jun 2016

ALVA director Bernard Donoghue raises concerns that Brexit will create cultural funding gap

Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has raised concerns that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) could have a significant effect on funding for cultural organisations, while also painting an unwelcoming picture for potential inbound visitors.

Speaking to Attractions Management, Donoghue addressed several issues raised as a result of the Brexit, including the fall in value of the pound and the attractiveness of Britain as a visitor destination to overseas tourists.

“The fall in the value of the pound and shares this morning is alarming but we hope temporary,” said Donoghue. “We always felt that if we had an exit vote, then that sends out particular messages about our welcome to overseas visitors to the UK. We know from countless examples that every time we impose visa requirements on an inbound market into the UK, the number of visitors from those markets goes down and we will have to work hard to ensure that our welcome and the attractiveness of the UK is sustained and heightened.”

Addressing EU funding to the UK, Donoghue said there was potential concern for cultural organisations, urging the government to set up a plan to plug an open financial gap introduced as a result of the exit vote.

“Our arts and culture organisations in the UK are heavily dependent on EU funding for some of their capital projects and programmes,” he said. “That money won’t be necessarily replaced by the UK exchequer so the next couple of years are important in terms of planning to replace some of that really important income for some of our most important visitor attractions.”

When Attractions Management asked Donoghue about the potential positives of a Brexit, the outlook didn’t appear favourable from his perspective.

“To be perfectly honest I can’t see any pros right now,” he said. “Some of the Tourism Alliance members have said that they want to be free from the shackled of regulations and bureaucracy, imposed by the EU, but equally some have said that actually the EU regulations and laws about employment rights and environmental regulations are incredibly important and need to be incorporated into UK law. Different organisations will see this in different ways. From ALVA’s point of view, we’ve been very clear that we wanted to remain in the EU for those arts, culture, tourism and economic benefits.”

ALVA will now work with its members to ensure they know all the information that they require for future financial planning, with Donoghue also pledging to work hard with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and VisitBritain to ensure that Britain continues to be perceived as a welcoming destination for both tourism and business.

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