THE Minister for Economic Development John Shimmin MHK has reiterated his Department’s support for the visitor economy and the successes enjoyed to date during 2013.
‘The figures we have seen and the feedback we are receiving from industry suggest that 2013 has been another encouraging year for the visitor economy with visitor numbers up so far consolidating the successes we enjoyed in 2012.
‘We enjoyed a good run in 2012 with overall visitor expenditure increasing by just over 5% to £103M over the figures for 2011, with expenditure by Leisure Visitors increasing by 14% to £47.7M.’
The statistics were consistent with the Department’s strategic aim of exploiting high value niche markets, driving up quality and developing the Island as a year-round destination.
Two local accommodation providers also commented on how their businesses had fared in the year to date.
Shirley Clague, Manager of the Edelweiss Hotel, commented:
‘We have had a very busy year with our bookings showing a very pleasing 25% increase on recent years, with next year already starting to fill up.
‘There are many great new events bringing people to us from all over the world, which would give any top destination a run for their money!’
Sue Goody of Old Lonan Church Farm Cottages added:
‘We have five self-catering cottages and have seen an 11.7 % increase in visitor numbers this year with an encouraging trend of new people coming to the Island for the first time. Already we are seeing a healthy level of returnees and new visitor booking for 2014.’
To help boost visitor numbers the Department has created and supported new events. The most successful of these was the Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling which incorporated the new Classic TT and the popular Manx Grand Prix Races.
The Steam Packet reported recently that visitor numbers for the inaugural Festival of Motorcycling were 4% up on the same period in 2012.
This followed a successful 2013 TT Races with a Treasury survey showing a significant increase, over a three-year period, in the economic contribution that the TT Races makes to the Island’s economy.
The increase was driven by a rise in visitor numbers, and a higher per-head spend while visitors are on the Island. The research was carried out at the 2013 TT Races and compared with data collected during the 2010 meeting.
The study has revealed that almost 40,000 (39,224) visitors attended the 2013 TT Races, a 27% increase on the 2010 figure (30,787). The total spending of TT visitors in 2013 was £26.2 million compared with £19 million in 2010.
Treasury has assessed the economic contribution of this figure to be £18.9 million with an exchequer benefit of £3.5 million, which represent rises of £5.2 million and £900,000 respectively.
One of the Department’s main roles is promoting the Isle of Man and the Minister alluded to some of the excellent publicity received during the year:
‘My Department has been responsible getting the Isle of Man featured in nearly all of the national newspapers this year as well as several key UK regional titles and specialist magazines.
‘We also directly assist with the production of TV programmes like the BBC’s ‘James May’s Toy Stories’ which is due to be shown to millions of UK viewers during Christmas this year and which is also broadcast worldwide.
‘This will be hugely valuable publicity for the Isle of Man, which already totals around £1M to date this year.
The Minister continued:
‘We have achieved this publicity with fantastic support from local accommodation providers, activity providers, restaurants and cafes, all of whom have proved to be tremendous hosts. Together they have enabled these key opinion formers to enjoy what the Island has to offer.
More traditional tourism markets such as Group Travel market have also shown encouraging signs during the year.
There are already 10 cruise liner visits booked for 2014 with 18 cruise ships arriving here in 2013. The Department is also liaising with over 200 coach tour operators with a view to including the Isle of Man in future itineraries.
Airedale Tours, a major Tour Operator based in the UK which specialises in the Groups Market, is bringing over approximately 55 Group Travel organisers at the end of October with the aim of booking group holidays to the Isle of Man in the future. As part of its support to industry the Department is hosting a networking event so that the local suppliers to the Group Travel industry can showcase their products and services at no charge.
The Department has also been developing a more open dialogue with industry stakeholders in order to establish a more mutual approach to promoting the Isle of Man. The Visitor Economy Stakeholder Group is a public/private sector partnership spearheading this new approach and is aimed at bringing
The Minister continued:
‘We feel that involving key industry representatives in our future plans will better help us fulfil our priorities of growing visitor numbers and supporting further economic growth in the visitor economy, given that this sector directly supports many hundreds of jobs.
‘In addition, the visitor economy helps to enhance the quality of life for those living in the Isle of Man through leisure and social activities, events and restaurants that our relatively small population couldn’t sustain. Quality of life is also important in retaining and attracting the highly skilled workers we need to help grow our economy.’