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Summertime and the living either increased or stayed the same compared to the same period in 2009

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John Penrose

John David Penrose is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Weston-super-Mare

It would be handy to be able to kick this little effort off with something about ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ or a doleful suggestion that ‘summer’s lease hath all too short a date’ but, let’s be honest, there’s a better than even chance that you’ll be moaning about it all being too hot and muggy as you read this.

But that’s September in England for you – where Four Seasons is not only a type of pizza and an orchestral work by Vivaldi, but also a fairly reliable daily weather forecast for this time of year. Be that as it may, the splendid folk at VisitEngland have declared summer to be officially over and marked the occasion with some research findings about how ‘accommodation providers’ (a clunky phrase, I agree, but you can see what they mean) fared across the period. And I’m very pleased to report that the answer is ‘very nicely, thank you’.
It seems that 87 per cent of what they call ‘operators’ (and, again, the word is not meant pejoratively) declared themselves to be satisfied with how business had been across the summer, with around three quarters saying that business had ‘either increased or stayed the same compared to the same period in 2009’. This is good stuff.
And if you’re thinking that ‘either increased or stayed the same… etc’ is rather less than a ringing endorsement, then you don’t know these ‘operators’. Trust me, they’re not a starry-eyed bunch, and are not at all backward in coming forward when it comes to letting people know when things aren’t right.
John Penrose, Penny Cobham and James Berresford  at the VisitEngland reception


What makes all this especially heartening is that last year (that’s the year, compared with which, people’s satisfaction had ‘either increased or… etc’, don’t forget) was a bumper year for what became – and still is, I suppose – known as staycationing, because of the economy.
I appreciate that our marketing of this beautiful country was not exactly impeded by the best efforts of that Icelandic volcano or airline industrial relations, but even so, this is highly impressive. Lines on graphs that head north from left to right are to be welcomed, when the stuff being measured is success.
I found all this out, by the way, at a reception for the tourist and travel media which VisitEngland organised. Here’s a picture taken at the event. I’m the chap on the left, by the way, and it’s mildly reassuring, I think, that my two companions – VisitEngland’s Penny Cobham and James Berresford – are the ones with the best tans.


Oh, and while I’ve got your attention, a quick thank you to the chap who wrote to me recently complaining that, contrary to what VisitBritain claimed (and I reported in an earlier blog), the word ‘pom’ is in fact an insult when directed at Brits by Australians. Apparently, it’s a shortening of the acronym P.O.M.E which, he told me, stood for Prisoner of Mother England and, as such, is not a term of endearment.
Fair enough, I suppose, but there are still further interpretations and, as this link suggests, the folk at VisitBritain may yet be on the money. In any event, the insults and banter coming from the Aussie close fielders as the England batsmen try to retain the Ashes this winter will be somewhat nearer the knuckle. And something tells me the England team wouldn’t have it any other way.
Next time I’ll be talking about slot machines, amusement arcades and what I’m going to do to help their business.

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