Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Friday, 6 March 2009


Every cloud has a silver lining. I think by now that you all know my view that this recession is going to be deep and long and ugly. The more I discover about the true depth of bank liabilities, or the impact of the contraction on so many economies with all its dark implications, the more certain it becomes.

But even in the gloom some sectors will do well. Because we are all trimming our spending, even those people who do not really need to, those businesses that offer value for money are busy. The cheaper supermarkets and restaurants seem to be buzzing.

Another vital group could cash in if they play their cards right – the local tourist industry. Because of the perceived weakness of the British economy and our ever spiralling public debt, the pound is very weak against the dollar and the euro. If you have tried to book a holiday yet in the euro-zone you will have discovered just what a difference this makes. So, many British families will be deciding to stay in the UK this year for their holiday to avoid the 30% hike in costs caused by the exchange rate. This is a golden opportunity of the many tourist attractions in Devon and Cornwall. On top of this, those people in the EU for whom a trip to the UK has suddenly become a third cheaper because of the struggling pound are also ripe for the plucking.

But two things are essential. First, as we are competing with the Lake District and Scotland etc we have to make sure that our marketing is right. I still remember the impact a poster on the tube in London made on me years ago luring me to holiday in Cuba. It was only years later that we could afford it, but that seductive image was the inspiration. We have to market the delights of the West Country for all we are worth at this time.

Second, the product must be right. We have the seas, the beaches, the moors, the visitor attractions, but the service must be of the highest quality. It is what people expect these days and rightly so. If our tourist industry delivers on this, then they might have not one bumper year but several as satisfied customers come back. This injection of cash could offer our region a real lifeline.

Naturally, a decent drop of sunshine would also help.

posted by Gary @ 09:03