Latest developments



The rise of peer-to-peer accommodation websites such as Airbnb offers challenges to existing methods of tourism monitoring. This type of accommodation generally is not included in occupancy surveys, may not show up on ‘official’ bed stock listings, and may have very different patterns of use to traditional holiday accommodation.

For STEAM, we’ve been working on ways to include this growing accommodation sector within our model. Peer to peer websites will now form part of the research base for bed stock surveys. “Traditional” accommodation advertised on the sites – whole-house lets, rooms in B&Bs and so on - are included in the bed stock databases used for STEAM and the usual occupancy levels applied. Individual rooms in private houses are excluded, the rationale being that there is no way of knowing their availability or occupancy. This situation will continue to be monitored and our approach improved as and when it becomes possible.

The scale of the problem

Currently the error caused by excluding elements of the peer to peer market remains small. For the UK as a whole, GBTS now includes the category of “Airbnb / someone else’s home” in the accommodation section. The 2016 figures show this category accounting for 0.636 million trips, 2.427 million nights and a spend of £166 million, representing less than 1% of the total.

Airbnb’s own figures for 2016 indicate they catered for 5.9 million travellers, which is considerably higher than the surveys suggest but still represents less than 4% of the total overnight visitors in the UK.


GTS have appointed a new Tourism Researcher to its data processing team, based in North Lincolnshire. Paula Dunning will be supporting the existing team, collecting and verifying input for STEAM clients across the UK.


GTS has received a Bronze Award from Resource Efficient Scotland for measures taken by the company since making a Resource Efficiency Pledge. Resource Efficient Scotland, the Scottish Government programme delivered by Zero Waste Scotland has been designed to help the public, private and third sectors reduce costs by implementing resource efficiencies in energy, water, raw materials and waste management. Since signing the pledge, GTS has worked towards:

  • Commit to embedding resource efficiency in our own business operations;
  • Show leadership in driving sustainable growth through our supply chain; and
  • Actively contribute to achieving a low carbon economy.

The Resource Efficiency Pledge is a nationwide scheme backed by the Scottish Government, which aims to help businesses take action to use energy, water and raw materials more efficiently. Since its launch this year, businesses have already take steps to reduce costs, improve productivity and enhance their reputation within twelve months by making a Resource Efficiency Pledge.

The Resource Efficient Scotland programme offers free advice and technical support as well as the sharing of best practice and new technologies. Embedding resource efficiency within organisations makes a significant contribution to the achievement of the Scottish Government’s strategic economic objectives, climate change, energy efficiency and zero waste targets.


In response to requests for a qualitative, written report to compliment the quantitative STEAM reports, GTS has introduced an infographic report to supplement the full STEAM reports received by clients.

Available as an optional addition to the main STEAM report, the infographic report provides a written assessment of the reporting period, drawing upon data embedded in the main report with regards to tourism numbers, tourist days, economic impact and employment. In addition the report provides headline statistics on average length of stay, average spend per day and average spend per trip, broken down into various visitor sectors i.e. staying visitors, day visitors, visitors staying in serviced accommodation or non-serviced accommodation etc. Presented in an easy to read and understand format, the reports are ideal for handing to elective members or for release to the general public and are proving very popular. ‘The new STEAM summary report has really helped us to promote the value of Lancashire’s visitor economy in a much clearer way to our partners and key stakeholders across the county. In turn, this is helping us to raise more understanding about the valuable contribution the visitor economy makes to wider local economies across Lancashire and how it can support delivery of key strategic economic priorities,’ Justina Ma, Business Manager, Marketing Lancashire.

Please contact GTS if you are interested in an infographic report for your own area.


Global Tourism Solutions has received a Bronze Award from the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme. The scheme was launched by the Prime Minister at No 10 Downing Street in July 2014, in line with defence aims to reward and recognise commitment and support from UK employers for defence personnel. The scheme comprises bronze, silver and gold awards for employers who pledge, demonstrate or advocate their support for Defence personnel. Richard MacDonald, who serves as a Flight Lieutenant within the Royal Air Forces Reserves, nominated GTS for the award, "Without doubt GTS' support of my reservist duties is exemplary. They allow me extra paid leave for my reservist commitments, without such support, it would be difficult for me to contribute as much as I do to my reservist duties." 1


STEAM clients who are also British Destinations members and are currently filling in their Destination Intelligence form can get some help this year. A spreadsheet is available with all the required STEAM outputs already filled in for you – just contact Cathy for details.

If you're not currently a member of British Destinations and are interested in receiving all the useful benchmarking data the Destination Intelligence Survey provides details can be found here.


Over the summer Cathy spent an afternoon at Wrexham County Borough Council’s offices, delivering a training session on the new format STEAM report to eight colleagues from Wrexham, Denbighshire and Conwy Councils. By the end of the session everyone had learned how to use all the features of the new report, including identifying long-term trends, looking in detail at changes within each sector, and finding out which were the best performing elements of their tourism product. It was agreed that the session had been very useful and even enjoyable! Within Denbighshire Council the training is now being passed on to other members of their economic development department.

Anyone interested in a similar session should contact Cathy, David or Richard. Alternatively, we'd be only too happy to talk you through the new reports over the phone, whether you need a broad overview or detailed advice on how to extract specific information.


The launch of our website coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of GTS and the twentieth anniversary of GTS in Scotland. GTS was established by our Chairman, David James, in 1989 in Scarborough and for the last two decades has been present in Scotland. Our first major contract in Scotland was with Scottish Enterprise back in 1994. They assessed the model, externally validating it, and we've had a continual presence in Scotland ever since.

Working in Scotland has its rewards and demands explains Richard MacDonald, Director (Scotland), "When folk ask where I work, I always say 'Scotland' because I literally travel its length and breadth, from Dumfries & Galloway to Shetland, from the Outer Hebrides to Aberdeen and everywhere in between. In the seven years I've worked for GTS I never tire of the scenery or wildlife- I've seen otters, eagles, stags and whales, all on trips to see clients." But it's not always a smooth journey, "I remember trying to land at Sumburgh on Shetland in dense fog in this small twin-prop airplane. The pilots gave it three tries with the plane lurching alarmingly all over the sky. On the last approach I could actually look up and see the lighthouse beam at Sumburgh Head! We gave up and diverted to Kirkwall, so I simply visited Orkney Council while I was there and made it to Shetland the next day."

The trip was certainly not your average daily commute to the office!

1. The Employer Recognition Scheme was launched by the Prime Minister at No10 Downing Street in July 2014, in line with Defence aims to reward and recognise commitment and support from UK employers for Defence personnel.