Written by Andrew Denton, CEO of the Outdoor Industries Association:
I am drafting this in a very small airplane bound from Greenland to Iceland – returning from a week of ‘Steep Ski Mountaineering’ in the costal ranges of East Greenland.
What struck me most at this time of year, when the snow has turned to spring corn and there is 23 hours of daylight, is the new shoots of green, even in that harshest of climates. Is the tide turning here in the UK outdoor industry as well? From what I hear sales are strong and consumer spending positive – let’s hope that will translate to a positive summer of sales? I can tell you for certain that holiday bookings, domestic and foreign tourists to the UK, are up significantly, camping and caravan bookings are also up and we hope it will mean more people on the hills and of course, more people buying gear.
Inevitably, 8 June will mean ‘all change’ again and who knows where that will lead – even if the governing party remains the same there will be a new set of ministers for OIA to deal with, and it looks like a firm mandate for a pretty hard Brexit. Right now I cannot see any other result, but we are in a period of suspended political work right now – purdah means nothing other than campaigning until we have a new team in place, post general election.
Regardless of the result I am confident we will continue to enjoy the support of government – universal health and activity are central to any party’s manifesto and outdoor recreation has proven itself an excellent ally in the fight for a healthier Britain. In my next update we will know what side of the political fence the OIA will be dealing with and how we will begin to work with that new government.
On the theme of ‘new shoots,’ the last item I want to mention is the Outdoor Future Camp/ISPO Academy – a conference being held on 5 September in Sheffield, aimed at the new leaders in our industry. Partnering with ISPO, the OIA are leading this initiative and we have had a really positive response so far.
The format is broadly similar to the European or OIA annual conferences, with keynote speakers, workshops and networking events… but it’s a festival, camping-style event to keep the price right down, and we have added more social elements to bond the networking in place and help people new to the trade meet contacts and make connections. We are convinced that it is the right event at the right time, we already have some world class speakers in place. We hope that from the delegates, we will generate world class future leaders for the UK Outdoor Industry.
Join us, sponsor us, offer a speaker, or send along delegates – full details here www.outdoorindustriesassociation.co.uk/events.
Have a great summer. See you at OutDoor in Germany or at the new OTS dates in July.