Bath University tech wizards to help city’s tourist trade as recession threatens.

Over £50 million which could support Bath’s independent shops and businesses is going into the pockets of big tech, says Visit Somerset CEO John Turner, but a brand-new partnership could begin to reverse this trend.

John Turner, CEO of Visit Somerset

Mr Turner met with Metro Mayor Dan Norris at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath today to explain just how he plans to support Bath’s thriving indies after uniting with Bath Independent Hotel Association and Bath Self Catering Association.

Pictured are Paul Crossey (Jane Austen Centre), John Turner (Visit Somerset), Laurent Perge (West of England Sustainable Technologies Scale-Up Programme), Chris Budd (University of Bath), Metro Mayor Dan Norris and Alison Curran (Bath Independent Hospitality Association and Bath Self Catering Association).

The Mayor, who is running an Explore Local campaign, was also told how the move will see the up to £100,000 expansion of Visit Somerset’s Stay in Bath Loyalty scheme.

This will give visitors the opportunity for great offers for the city’s indie attractions, including one of its ‘jewels in the crown’, the Jane Austen Centre, helping keep them in the city and enjoying Bath’s indie scene for longer.

They also discussed how John and the Visit Somerset team are working with the University of Bath to roll out artificial intelligence and machine learning to both organisations’ platforms, helping ensure locals and visitors book their stays directly rather than through tech giants.

According to Mr Turner, the changes will help Bath in the fight against online travel agents offering similar services without harmful commissions that see over £50 million going out of the city.

In an interview with me, earlier in the day, John Turner also explained how many businesses were at a perilous point after both Brexit and the Pandemic and now faced the prospect of a recession.