The Future is Bright for Independent British Tourism

My first steps into business ownership were into the tourism sector. My first business was running a self catering holiday house in the Staffordshire Peak District. We won awards and became the 1st accredited eco holiday business in the county.

Since then, I have worked extensively with independent micro businesses in the visitor economy and it is a sector I not only adore, but know makes a valuable contribution now and to a sustainable future.

Currently we are swamped in news about Covid-19 and I am certainly not going to comment on that as such – not qualified and there’s enough already. BUT it has thrown up some very interesting dilemmas about how we can work, travel and gather.

Stepping away purposefully from ‘end of the world’ perspective that mainstream media is feeding us, I wanted to take this opportunity specifically to talk about the value of independent tourism business and their contribution to people, place and planet.

Never before have we had such a great opportunity to really discover the magic on our own doorsteps. Independent tourism businesses are a particularly special breed that allow visitors to truly get to know a place, learn more about local foods, drink, history, sport and more. They provide a unique perspective on their place that will provide a visitor with the very best experiences, memories & learning moments.

Unlike their big brand competition, independent tourism are always adding more than they are taking away.

They are adding value by providing personalised service, stories and experience to your stay or visit. They are always giving more than you expect from a slice of home made cake to an unexpected view. Independent tourism businesses tend to be family run or run by people who have always dreamt of providing experience. There is little contrivance or focus on profit alone. The result is an altogether more human experience that will stay within you for longer.

Beechenhill Farm
Beechenhill Farm, Peak District

Did I mention eco? Although much of independent Britain isn’t labelled or accredited as eco, their profit margins and ways of working are not exuberant or wasteful. Much of the independent sector in tourism is leading the way in sustainable tourism almost by accident.


They deeply care about their place and so take care of it. Countryside and city alike, the place where they are is precious and so they keep it clean, beautiful, care for it, protect it and share it carefully.

Independent businesses are always looking for points of difference compared to the big players in their sector. The result is more local options for breakfast or in restaurants. Your hospitality tray is much more likely to feature milk in a jug and not a plastic pot, freshly made cake or fair trade coffee. You will be looking for experience over star ratings so fluffy towels will not be re washed every day and visits by bus, tram or bicycle are a lot more common. They are unlikely to waste their money on lots of tiny toiletry plastic containers but may provide a refillable locally made soap.

This dedication to special, different and innovative is noticeable whenever you visit an independent tourism business. Just this week a member of Simply Great Britain, Hoe Grange Holidays in the Peak District, swept the board at the Visit Peak District Tourism Awards for their sustainability, accessibility and their glamping. This commitment to difference and excellence is something that you rarely find outside the independent sector.

David & Felicity from Hoe Grange Holidays.

Local, independent tourism businesses are ploughing money not their local economies and providing valuable employment to a wide range of people directly and indirectly. This cashflow is the lifeblood of so many locations in Britain and a way that we can really make a valuable contribution even just on a cheap day out with family.

Amanda White Photography
Willow Weaving courses by Eddie Glew at Blithfield Willowcrafts

If 2020 is going to be a very different year from the one we expected then it’s an opportunity to dive into the British independent tourism sector. Maybe it’s time to discover the tiny businesses that make Britain such an exciting place to explore. Becoming part of a growing tribe of independent business seekers will give you a 2020 that will stay with you for all the right reasons. You are making significant contribution, supporting amazing innovation and protecting valuable places.

The Simply Great Britain Member’s Club has a growing number of fabulous independent micro businesses that are playing their part in a sustainable, vibrant and valuable British tourism industry so pop over now and say hello to your new 2020 adventure.