Attractions industry news

24 Jun 2016

Leisure industry reacts after UK votes to leave EU

Leisure industry heavyweights have raised concerns for the future after the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU) following the referendum on its membership.

In the wake of the narrow win for the leave camp – 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent – the London stock market plunged, with the FTSE 100 index falling more than 8 per cent in the opening minutes of trade. Prime Minister David Cameron has also announced his intention to resign as the country’s leader, promising to step down by October of this year.

The value of the pound plummeted as the results started coming in, at one point hitting US$1.3236 – the lowest numbers since 1985. The euro also suffered, marking its biggest one-day fall since the currency’s inception with a 3.3 per cent drop.

The weaker pound means it becomes more expensive to buy products and services from abroad. For the UK’s exporters however there should be some benefit as it makes their goods cheaper for people purchasing from abroad.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also said preparations are being made for a second independence referendum, with an overwhelming majority of voters having sided with the remain campaign by 62 per cent to 38 per cent.

Leaders across the leisure sector have had their say, with a number of companies releasing statements regarding next steps for the UK.

Inbound tourism industry fears far-reaching effect of Brexit

UKinbound – which represents 370 of the UK’s tourism businesses – says the government must now focus on securing the best possible trade deal for the inbound sector.

With the sector contributing more than £22bn per annum to the UK economy, UKinbound’s CEO Deirdre Wells said that the effects could be significant for its members.

“UKinbound feels the decision to leave the EU is disappointing and inevitably will have far-reaching consequences for our members,” she said in a statement.

“However, we have proved time and again that we are a resilient industry and the government must now work hard to secure a deal which supports our vibrant industry, which relies on the EU for two-thirds of its business. The priority must now be to ensure that our members have the best possible environment in which to grow their business and to support them in welcoming visitors from all corners of the globe.”

KPMG says Brexit will impact consumer confidence

KPMG – one of the big four auditors along with Deloitte, EY and PwC – has said the decision is likely to cause CEOs within the leisure and hospitality sector a great deal of uncertainty and concern.

“Not only are there vast numbers of EU nationals working in the hospitality sector, but EU supplier and commercial contracts will need to be reviewed, and there will also be concerns over foreign visitor numbers within the industry. All of these factors could have a material impact on operations and revenues,” said Will Hawkley, UK head of leisure for KPMG UK.

“On an economic level, it’s fair to predict that today’s result will probably impact consumer confidence, driving down discretionary spend on leisure in the short to medium term while consumers evaluate the full impact of what the UK’s exit from the EU means for them and their wallets.”

Continuum urges support following Brexit

Continuum Attractions, which operates a number of UK attractions including the Royal Mint visitor experience, and also ran the highly successful Coronation Street tour, has said the UK must make the best of its new position despite uncertainty about its future.

“Though we campaigned that we are safer in the EU as a community which engenders trade and travel, we must now make the best of our position,” said Juliana Delaney, chief executive of Continuum Attractions.

“We will continue to champion the Great British tourism brand across the world and keep offering great experiences, great memories and good value for money at our attractions across the UK. I do believe we, the country and Continuum, are resilient enough to survive and thrive due to the strength of UK plc and its blue chip brand which has robust value across all sectors.”

Architects express shock and disappointment after vote

Architects from across the UK have reacted with shock after waking up to the news that the country will leave the EU.

The Royal Institute Of British Architects (RIBA) has released a statement, saying that it would strive to ensure the sector would be placed in a position to succeed.

“UK architecture talent is incredibly resilient and we will continue to ensure that our profession has a bright future, whatever the operating environment,” said Jane Duncan, president of RIBA.

“In common with other UK businesses and organisations, RIBA is assessing the short and longer term effect of the withdrawal on our members and the Institute and we will provide further guidance in due course.

“Most importantly, we will work with colleagues in industry and government to ensure that architects have a strong voice in the coming weeks, months and years.”

ukactive urges government support for physical activity sector following EU vote

ukactive's executive director Steven Ward, has said that the physical activity sector mustn't be held back as a result of the EU referendum if the UK is going to "turn the tide of inactivity".

"The primary concern for businesses within the physical activity sector at this stage will be that the sustained period of growth over the previous years that has made our sector the driving force of the wellbeing economy, can continue without disruption as the process of leaving the EU begins in earnest," he said.

"Moving forward, the government – who has pushed ahead with significant measures to promote physical activity through an updated strategy for sport and physical activity and the fantastic work of Public Health England – should continue in the same vein as soon as possible.

"If we are going to turn the tide of inactivity and achieve our mission, we will need a wide-ranging partnership which includes wholesale buy-in from both the public and private sector.

"Therefore we need to ensure that any future government and any future Prime Minister commits to prioritising physical activity as part of its wider health policy and that the incredible momentum that has built up in recent years on this most crucial issue is not held back."

Ward added that although the UK is entering a period of uncertainty the sector has been built on strong foundations, which ukactive believes will continue to flourish in years to come.

What does Brexit mean for British sport?

City analyst David Cheetham from financial brokers XTB.com predicts that 2016 will now become “the most expensive premier league transfer window on record for English clubs”.

“The sharp decline seen today in the wake of the UK's decision to leave the EU could well have an impact on Premier League clubs and their transfer activity this summer.

“In addition to the initial decline seen in the pound in relation to the Euro – with the pair trading over 6 per cent so far today – the nature of the decline suggests there could be more to come as the period of uncertainty could be long and protracted.”

Leaving the EU is also likely increase the cost of sports equipment and limit access to sports funding for British organisations, according to Sport and Recreation Alliance chief executive Emma Boggis, who said that potential tariffs on imports from the EU could increase the cost of goods, which could have a knock-on effect for participation in physical activity.

British Hospitality Association to convene members

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) will bring together its members industry and political leaders on 27 June to discuss economic and political ramifications of the EU exit in the short term.

"We will be framing a plan to ensure that we have a seat at the table on all negotiations including taxation, immigration and regulation," said Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the BHA.

“As we go through this process, the BHA will call upon every politician in this country to do all they can to guard the strong reputation that our industry has built representing a hospitable and welcoming country all around the world.”

Brexit could mean 'Staycation 2' for UK

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) could have a very similar impact on the tourism industry to that of the 2008 financial crisis, with more people opting for a staycation instead of travel abroad.
Speaking to Leisure Opportunities, Kurt Janson, director of the Tourism Alliance, said that as seen in 2008 domestic tourism will likely rise, with both inbound and outbound tourism also affected.

“Domestic tourism will increase due to the fall in sterling combining with people’s uncertainty and concerns regarding the UK economy and their employment status. Conversely, the outbound industry will struggle for the same reasons,” said Janson. “Meanwhile the inbound tourism industry will benefit from the fall in sterling and possibly the significant coverage the UK is receiving in the overseas media. So, bottom line, expect ‘Staycation 2’, at least in the short-term.”

ALVA fears 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.

Addressing EU funding to the UK, Donoghue told Attractions Management that 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.

"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.”

Struggling pound could bring UK tourism boom, says Varney

Merlin Entertainments CEO and British Hospitality Association (BHA) chair Nick Varney has said that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union could actually bring an influx of visitors based on the weakened value of the struggling pound.

Varney, whose company Merlin operates 32 visitor attractions across the UK including Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Warwick Castle, addressed BHA members at the annual Hospitality & Tourism Summit, telling them that they should “seize the opportunity” despite a volatile financial market.

“I think it is a good thing that the pound is devalued relative to the euro,” said Varney. “If we had voted to remain, putting all other issues to one side, we would have been left with a very uncompetitive currency from the view of exporters and the tourism industry in general. What I think we have to do is lock that competitive advantage in so we get to sort of pick up with renewed vigour the whole argument for cutting tourism VAT on accommodation and on attractions.”

Varney added that tourism and the wider leisure industry would be able to grow under an independent Britain, with the initially weaker pound encouraging visitor and export numbers to flourish.

Check back with Leisure Opportunities as experts and leaders from across the industry respond to the referendum result

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