March will be remembered, at least in the short term, as the month when tourism fell over the cliff. Accommodation and attractions closed down, more of us started working from home, the roads started emptying, and city centres, usually bustling, went quiet.
Those destinations across the UK (and indeed around the world) that are using T-Stats to track their tourism sectors are continually reminded about how useful and important it is to be monitoring their visitor economies. Whether this means tracking accommodation occupancy, visits to attractions, footfall or car park use, transport, or even the weather, the tracking of these – their ups and downs – allows them to quickly and easily manage the sector.
Looking at data from across the UK, we can clearly see that in March (compared to the same month in 2019), attractions took the biggest hit (down 50-60%), followed by serviced accommodation (down 45-55%). Footfall and bike usage in cities fell by around 45%, whilst self-catering occupancy was less affected than serviced. High street sales dropped by less than 20% as there was a slow shift across to online sales.
Never has there been a better or more pertinent time to invest in a market intelligence system. T-Stats is a tracking system built specifically for individual destinations. Its purpose is to provide finger-on-the pulse information on how tourism is performing and measures the impact of local and external events. It even offers the facility to benchmark with other destinations. Cloud-based, it is easy to use, and sharing information with your partners has never been easier.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has recently published a guide for destinations in response to COVID-19, called Supporting Jobs and Economies Through Travel and Tourism.
One of their recommendations (No. 18) is: Invest in Market Intelligence Systems. This has been our mantra for years. Evidence based decisions and strategies are key, particularly in moments of crisis. Invest in data, analysis and partnerships that allow for close, short-term monitoring of tourism development and impact.