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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Tourists Are More Important to 'Tourism' in Cornwall Than Anywhere in the UK

I have been doing some research into tourism recently. Most recently I have been looking at the way the economic benefit to an economy from tourism is calculated and how various statistical ratios and percentages and measures are calculated and what they all mean. It's a bit of a nightmare really!

One of many reports and papers that I have been looking at is the 'Sub-Regional Value of Tourism in the UK - 2008' produced by the Office for National Statistics.

GVA - or Gross Value Added is a measure of economic activity related to GDP. (Dick Cole recently blogged about the drop in Cornwall's GVA here.) Cornwall's GVA was £7.2 billion in 2008.

The ONS report provides a TD-GVA figure of £0.79 billion for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

TD-GVA, or Tourism Direct GVA is that which can be directly attributed to tourism. From this we can calculate that tourism, in 2008, was less than 11% of the Cornish economy - surprising considering that we are always being told that Cornwall relies on tourism so heavily and that we aren't capable of doing much else!

There was one indicator where Cornwall & IoS came top of the leader-board in the report. This was the 'Tourism Ratio'. Cornwall & IoS has a TR of (also) 11%. A median TR would be around 3% - 4%.

The report states:

"The Tourism Ratio itself represents a good measure of the economic importance of the tourism
sector within regions, as it shows the relationship between tourism demand and supply, in other
words the importance of tourism expenditure in driving output in these areas."

Now, at first glance, this seems to provide succour to those who say that we are dependent on tourism (given that Cornwall & IoS has the highest TR in the UK).

In fact this would not be correct as you need to understand the technical terms being used.

The key to understanding what the TR tells us is in understanding that tourism supply does not always cater for tourism demand (?).

Tourism demand is measured by looking at the spending by groups of consumers classed together as 'tourists'. Tourism supply is the output of businesses classified as being in a tourist category e.g food and drink, accomodation and sports and recreation etc.

The fact is that many tourism products and services are acutually consumed by locals 'at leisure' rather than visitors.

Thus the high Cornish TR demonstrates that, in Cornwall, the tourism businesses are more dependent on actual tourists than anywhere else in the UK. To put it another way - less recreational (tourist) goods and services are consumed by locals at leisure than anywhere else in the UK.

A bit of a kick of the teeth for those that preach that living inCornwall is all about 'lifestyle choice'.


  1. This perspective does not apply only to tourism but to commerce as well. In a neighborhood, it is better if people from other places will buy your products rather than your neighbors if you are targeting economic growth in the area.

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  2. I could agree that it is best if you can sell products to as wide a customer base as possible. The point for this blog is that Cornish people aren't able to afford the leisure activities available on their own doorstep. It isn't about choice to buy but ability to buy. You need a thriving local economy as much as a thriving export economy.


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