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Yule (B)log - a Christmas message from Deirdre Wells

Published: 16 Dec 2016

I know that for many, today marks the end of an extremely busy few months and the beginning of a well-deserved festive break. As 2016 draws to a close, it will be remembered as being one of the strangest for many years! Twelve months ago, few could have foreseen that a mere one year later we would have voted to leave the EU; had a new Prime Minister; and that Donald Trump would be President of the USA. If a week is a long time in politics, then 2016 surely represents a millennium!

But although the geo-political backdrop both foreign and domestic has made 2016 if not an Annus Horribulis, then certainly (with apologies for any Latin scholars amongst you) an Annus Unexpectus; what has been a constant ray of hope this year, has been our industry's ability to respond positively to economic and political change and to capitalise on the opportunities we encounter. Small wonder then, that this year has, for many, been a record year for inbound tourism. Our industry's ability to adapt, innovate and collaborate is something of which we can all be proud.

I know that for some, this has been a tough year. Concerns about security threats across Europe has had an impact on visitor numbers in many leading attractions and concerns about issues such as the impact of Brexit on our ability to recruit a flexible and skilled workforce makes the future uncertain too. Our priority, this year, has been to do all we can to impress on Government, the media, and key opinion leaders the importance of supporting our industry - helping the 7th biggest export earner do even better for UK plc.

We have been fortunate to secure a number of high profile media interviews this year; and less glamorously, but no less importantly, we have submitted evidence to a wide range of Parliamentary committees on the impact of Brexit; jobs and skills; and the UK's visa regime to name but a few.

The priority for our lobbying activity is clear - we want the Government to provide the best possible fiscal and legislative environment for our industry. Our aim is to do all we can to help you grow your business - be it through making the case to Government; or our high-quality events programme.

Whether you came to our Convention at Aviemore; danced the night away at the Summer Ball; exhibited at WTM; explored the wonders of Shakespeare's England; discovered the cultural delights of Glasgow; or became a true "Throner" in Northern Ireland; or whether you hosted or attended any of our many networking events across the UK - can I take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU!

Thank you for bringing your energy, enthusiasm, innovation and passion for our industry to each and every event you attend. Thank you for your feedback, your engagement and your support. Thank you for wearing a funky jumper; being ridiculously competitive at a pop-quiz; for silent disco-dancing in front of 100 people; for karaoke singing really badly in Glasgow; and wearing full "Ned Stark" costume in Belfast. Thank you for putting the "play hard" into the "work hard".

As it's Christmas, please indulge me in some "thank you's" a little closer to home. To Mark, and all the Board of Directors - thank you for your support and expertise; your ideas and good humour. And thank you to my wonderful team - whose passion for and commitment to this Association knows no bounds. I am blessed with a terrific bunch of talented people who work so hard to deliver the best possible service to you.

So as we say goodbye (and good riddance?) to 2016, we look forward to an exciting 2017! They say "life begins at 40". Well, as our big anniversary approaches, we look forward to an exciting and fun-filled year, as our Association begins an exciting new chapter in its history.

So have a well-deserved rest over the festive period - you're gonna need it!!

Merry Christmas,

Deirdre

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