Written by Ian Stuart

I was proud to take on the role as new CEO of Destination Milton Keynes in November 2019. Proud to be representing the visitor economy in Milton Keynes and working towards making the city a destination of choice – a true ‘market leading’ modern city, with so much to offer, …… the job seemed perfect!

It’s mid-March, I’ve got my feet under the table, rewritten the business plan, met all the members, agreed to build a brand new website, and starting to grow visitor numbers…… Coronavirus changed everything!!.

At its height COVID 19 meant that 79.6% of workers in the food service industry were furloughed, the next highest % was arts, entertainment and recreation – 67% furloughed, meaning that the new CEO of DMK was now representing the hardest hit industry sector in Milton Keynes. Key clients were closed, prestigious organisations crippled, and the network I relied upon non-existent, as owners and management were furloughed or fought to keep their businesses afloat.

As we exit lockdown, businesses are now beginning to re-engage, and business owners looking to re attract existing and new clients, but the world they now look to for trade from has changed dramatically. The public are keen to do something but want to venture forth under new rules and expectations of safety, trust, and social awareness.

Our visitor economy is seeing the use of outdoor space and activities rise the quickest, and whilst retail is open, footfall is down (although basket size is improved it is not enough to bridge the gap). Indoor visitor attractions struggle to make a profit, and the government’s continued restrictions in some areas mean some of our members are still in lockdown!.

There is a strong future for the visitor economy in Milton Keynes but the road to recovery is a long one and the most adaptable and customer focussed organisations will be the survivors. We hope that everyone will engage Destination MK for advice and marketing support through our new website, and the public visit the site to find out what an amazing city MK is, with the broadest and most diverse range of interests on offer.

Still very proud to be the CEO, but now planning and adapting to operate in a new landscape, where our audiences have changed expectations and habits.

Ian Stuart
Chief Executive   
Destination Milton Keynes



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