The importance of enthusiastic local leadership and collaboration to represent an area’s tourism potential were the strong messages of the recent GTBF summer meeting on the theme of ‘Local tourism and the visitor economy: putting your place on the map’.
Several speakers explained how they and other local advocates had helped pull together a marketing package that showcased the best of the area by working as partners on the ground. It was agreed that finding a catalyst for tourism promotion was a key factor, particularly in an era of limited public resources.
Stephen Hallam (left), Managing Director of Dickinson & Morris’ Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe in Melton Mowbray, explained how, as a baker, he was on the front line in making sure tourists fully understood the rich food heritage of the town, which has led to it becoming know as the ‘Rural Capital of Food and Drink.’
Roger Bailey, a Coventry City Councillor and Blue Badge guide, explained the importance of building a cohesive visitor offer that makes the most of the lesser known histories behind attractions and destinations, and being a true ambassador for your home town.
Tom Evans, a Local Economic Development Consultant and BID (Business Improvement District) Manager for Welsh towns such as Newport and Merthyr Tydfil, explained quick and cost effective tools for putting places on the radar for visitors that may not have considered a trip before.
Associating the tourism opportunities presented by BIDS was explained by Giles Semper, of The Means and Better Bankside BID in London, and illustrated by Alun Williams of the Bournemouth Coastal BIDs.
Lyndsey Swift, Head of Partnerships at VisitEngland, explained how the organisation works to support Destination Management Organisations around the country in the context of its new role as the sole Government body focused on domestic tourism.
Maxine Beuret and Rob Johnstone, Visitor App Developers, were on hand to show the development of new digital technology solutions, explaining the new visitor app they had developed for the south coast town of Hastings in East Sussex, alerting visitors to sometimes overlooked quirky features like the two Victorian cliff lifts.
Colin Crosby (middle right), a Blue Badge guide in Leicestershire, focused on what appeals to a group buyer to make a visit worthwhile and memorable whilst Chair of the meeting, the Tourism Alliance’s Policy Director, Kurt Janson (bottom left), drew on experiences of the visitor offer in his home country of New Zealand to illustrate harnessing local opportunity and identity.
Brandon Crime (bottom right), a Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management at the University of Hertfordshire, then contrasted UK policy with that overseas, and pointed to some organisational challenges.
A lively panel discussion rounded off an excellent seminar, with many delegates going on to enjoy the Group Travel Awards in the evening.