Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet are set to discuss proposals to incorporate Visit Bath into a new regional tourism company, Visit West.
The report, being discussed on Thursday 10th December, recommends B&NES Council join with other West of England authorities to create the new tourism organisation.
The report suggests that Visit West would be able to access new funding for the tourism sector and provide a stronger industry presence for the region.
Visit Bath, which has been owned by B&NES Council since 2017, has struggled to balance its books and a new management team was brought in last year to take over the running of the organisation.
Following a drop in tourism income this year and the cancellation of the annual Christmas market, Visit Bath’s board and Bath & North East Somerset Council have said they no longer believe it is financially viable as a separate ongoing concern.
Councillor Dine Romero, leader of the council, said: “Tourism is a vital part of Bath and North East Somerset’s economy, employing around 9,000 people which is approximately 10% of the workforce.
“Given the devastating impacts of Covid-19 on the sector, supporting tourism businesses now and in the future is critical to securing these jobs and people’s livelihoods.
“I therefore welcome the report and cabinet will consider if carefully. I particularly welcome the proposal for us to co-operate closely with other partners across the area which builds on existing successful joint arrangements such as Invest Bristol and Bath which operates as a single service across the West of England to support inward investment.”
Fiona Pollard, Board Member of the VisitEngland Advisory Board, added: “I am delighted to see the proposed creation of Visit West which will be a ground breaking organisation that will lead the way in effective collaboration and very much play to the agenda of co operation on a bigger scale across tourism businesses.”
The report details how Visit West would continue to promote tourism across Bath and North East Somerset and retain the Visit Bath consumer-facing brand, but at a reduced cost to the council through economies of scale by combining the back-office and business-to-business functions of Visit Bath and Destination Bristol.
The role of the Bath Box Office would be combined into a new partnership with the Bath Forum.
Membership of Visit West would cost £75,000 annually and, as the council currently pays Visit Bath for its services, this would save the local authority £291,000 per year.
The report recommends the cabinet agrees to wind up Visit Bath, writing off the debt the council is owed by the organisation, believed to be £215,000, and funding Visit Bath’s liabilities from the council’s transformation reserves, totalling £667,000.
It says the council will be able to recoup the money through future savings made as a result of joining Visit West and save over £2 million over the next ten years.