Andrew Denton, CEO of the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA), discusses the latest Brexit developments and reveals how the OIA is promoting outdoor recreation in 2019
By the time you read this the Brexit withdrawal deal may be in place – then again, we may be about to face a second referendum. Such is the chaos and uncertainty, despite there being only one month left when I write this, despite many of us already having product on the water with no landing tariffs certain, price lists at ISPO that did not include WTO trade terms… we are really no clearer on what the position will be next month – April Fools’ Day is sounding more prophetic by the day…
I have been forecasting, researching, talking and advising as best I can to date on this Brexit issue, but since this may well be published after an answer is reached, I will steer clear. My position now? For the love of business, please trigger an Article 50 delay till the summer and settle a deal now that includes a customs union – business is desperate for certainty…
So, in these troubled times when it’s hard to find a positive spin on politicians and the whole political process, it’s heartening to hear the story of Tom Watson MP, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Tom turned 50 and weighed nearly 22 stone, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (the lifestyle one) and was in, surely, one of the most stressful jobs in the world – he was in effect a ticking time bomb waiting for the next health scare. In an extraordinary piece of will power and decision-making, he then went on to lose over seven stone in the following year, reversed his diabetes, increased his life expectancy and health markers beyond all recognition – and he did it all with simple activity and a sensible diet.
Tom has recently been speaking to the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) and has agreed to try several big outdoor adventure challenges in 2019 to take his message to the people – life can be better, you can be fitter, healthier and happier if you get outside! We will be working with his PR company and other media agencies to promote the activities through the year, raise the profile of Tom and his story, and most importantly, the story that ANYONE can have more fun outside. Our friends at Ordnance Survey GetOutside campaign will be getting behind this too and promoting Tom along with their champions – a host of up to 60 people who live the message that life is fun when you get active outdoors. This GetOutside campaign already has over 300,000 people a month logging on for inspiration and it is growing – we are very excited to work with Ordnance Survey maps on this and Tom’s story is just one of many that we will be promoting.
What will it do for the industry? Well, as well as his personal experience as the Deputy Leader of the opposition, Tom has the power to advise what goes in the Labour manifesto. We are working with him to ensure outdoor recreation is at the heart of health proposals, then that in turn will be picked up by the government and will once more raise our profile as a simple solution to a multibillion-pound health issue in the UK. “Get off the sofa and save the NHS” – it’s a simple message and one we are slowly but surely “turning the super tanker” on.
The OIA won’t change the industry in a day, it won’t change the country or the government in a day, but we are trying. Never before has the industry sat in private offices with party leaders for hours at a time, had them out walking, canoeing and cycling, and had an influence on policy at such a senior level. We are this for you, the industry. Our job is to engage, promote and represent YOU – the outdoor recreation industries – and we do that to lead to a healthier country and a healthier industry. Join us.