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Issue 46 May/June 2012 £2.75

London is in front in race for tourists By Christina Eccles OTHER parts of the UK are trailing behind London in the race to attract inbound tourists this summer, it has been claimed. According to VisitBritain figures, the country could potentially receive a £17.6b windfall from tourism this year, as a number of high profile events – such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations – take place. But despite this increased level of interest in Britain, research from online travel resource Gogobot found that just 16 per cent of users have shared reviews, travel guides or hotel recommendations for the country’s second most popular destination Edinburgh. This is compared to 72 per cent of tourists preparing their visits to the UK who are focusing their attention on London – suggesting other parts of the UK could potentially lose out on a tourism windfall. Gogobot CEO and founder Travis Katz said: “The UK is in danger of missing a trick unless it does more to publicise areas beyond the capital. “One in five people on Facebook

today have a friend using Gogobot, and while activity on our site around the UK has risen dramatically over the last few months, we’re only seeing this happen in London.” Travis also said the summer of 2012 provides a great chance for places all over the country to showcase their offering to people around the world – and destinations should be looking to maximise publicity around their areas online. He added: “Potentially there’s over £1b of extra tourist income up for grabs in 2012. It’s the perfect opportunity for places around Britain to show the world what they have to offer. “It’s never been easier to share and suggest recommendations for places to go thanks to social networking. If the whole of the UK is going to reap the rewards from the year ahead, people need to be going online and telling others about what their part of the UK has to offer.”  What do you think summer 2012 will bring for the UK tourism industry? Contact the Destination UK newsroom with your thoughts by emailing ce@scriptmedia.co.uk or via Twitter @DUKMag

Over a third ‘don’t save for holidays’

A host of famous faces have teamed up with hotel booking specialist LateRooms. com for a new campaign, Destination Inspiration. As part of the campaign, TV foodie Lisa Faulkner, pictured, style guru Caryn Franklin and explorer Ray Mears will appear at a series of events – held in London hotels – which will showcase short break ideas inspired by their passions for food, fashion and the great outdoors.

OVER a third of workers either don’t save for their summer holiday or put it all on their credit card, a survey from the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals has found. The survey, which looked into how people budget their salaries when planning their holiday, found that 15 per cent of people rely on their credit card to cover the cost and over a fifth do not save at all. Senior Policy Liaison Officer at the CIPP Diana Bruce said: “With the economy still in a fragile state it comes as no surprise to find that many employees do not have the disposable income available to put money by for their holidays. “The public sector is facing a third year of pay freezes and even those who are lucky enough to get a pay rise may find it is barely matching inflation. Coupled with the increases in the cost of running a home and getting to work, many have had to start paying serious attention to their spending habits.”


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National Park launches photography competition THE Cairngorms National Park has launched a nationwide photography competition to find the best images of the popular tourist area. Visit Cairngorms is asking snappers to upload their landscape, wildlife and family and friends images to the Make it Yours Photo Competition, which is supported by BBC presenter and resident One Show photographer, Jamie Crawford. Chief executive of Visit Cairngorms Alan Rankin said: “We are incredibly lucky to live and work in such a unique and special part of the UK and visitors that come here time and time again agree with us. Whether it is the middle of winter or the height of summer there is an abundance of photo opportunities to capture and we cannot wait to see how residents and visitors interpret this area into photos. We have also decided that the winner will be chosen by Facebook followers and not official judges which makes it even more exciting.” The winner of the competition, in association with Pentax Ricoh Imaging Company, will win a camera worth £850.

Olympics to bring two per cent visitor increase By Helen Williams THE UK will only have an extra 330,000 international visitors as a direct result of hosting the London 2012 Olympics, according to research from WTM Vision Conference London. Caroline Bremner, Euromonitor International head of travel and tourism research, told senior travel industry delegates that the UK will welcome 29.4m international visitors this year, a two per cent increase on 2011. However, the number of international visitors coming for London 2012 represented less than one per cent of the total UK inbound market. Caroline told the conference, organised by Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market, that domestic visitors were crucial to the success of the games. Around 70 per cent of the 8m tickets sold had gone to British people. EasyJet UK managing director Paul Simmons said the airline had seen “no significant impact on bookings” because of the Olympics. He suggested that “BA would probably say the same.” Furthermore, London hotels

appeared to be missing out, according to Expedia managing director UK, Andy Washington. He said worldwide bookings for flights into Manchester Airport during the three weeks of the Olympics were 40 per cent ahead of the same period last year. International bookings into Scottish airports were up 31 per cent. He added: “I can't say for sure that these people are staying in the regions and travelling into London to see the games. “But I can’t think of any other reason why the growth should be so big." Andy said London hotel prices during the games had been high so far, but average daily rates were likely to fall as more rooms were released. Hoseasons group managing director Geoff Cowley said his business had joined the government-backed 20.12 per cent promotion because it wanted to be part of a ‘domestic tourism legacy’ once the games were over. TUI UK managing director David Burling added that inbound and outbound industries needed to come together so that the authorities “made sure the airports work.”

Museum has attracted 1.8m visitors FOLLOWING a £50m transformation, the National Museum of Scotland has become the leading visitor attraction outside London – with 1.8m people visiting since it reopened in July 2011. The museum has 16 new galleries, featuring exhibits from the natural world to science and technology, from world cultures to art and design, and Scottish history from earliest origins to present day. New objects on display show the impact of Scots in the world from John Logie Baird's colour television to Sir Alexander Fleming's Nobel prize medal. International exhibitions this summer include Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress, highlighting the collections of one of Russia’s most successful rulers. Co-developed with the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, this major exhibition will only be shown in Edinburgh.

Entertainment news in Centrestage starting on Page 14

Contacts EDITORIAL Judith Halkerston group editor 01226 734639 jhalkerston@whpl.net Christina Eccles reporter 01226 734463 ce@whpl.net Dominic Musgrave reporter 01226 734407 dm@whpl.net Helen Williams reporter 01226 734694 helenw@scriptmedia.co.uk

PRODUCTION Stewart Holt – studio manager – sth@whpl.net Laura Blackburn – graphic designer lb@whpl.net ADVERTISING Andrew Loades assistant product manager 01226 734482 Tony Barry sales and marketing director 01226 734605/01226 734333 CIRCULATION Kelly Tarff 01226 734695 kt@whpl.net Fax: 01226 734477 Web: www.destination.uk.com

Surge in Glasgow bookings

Hotel spends £1.3m on ambitious programme A GLASGOW hotel has completed an ambitious refurbishment programme at a cost of £1.3m. The Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor now offers 97 stylish and fully refreshed bedrooms, including new design features, new beds and fresh carpeting. The investment also includes the upgrade of the hotel’s suite which has undergone a transformation, featuring a large bathroom, lounge

area and spacious bedroom. General manager Martin Watts said: “The team and I are thrilled with the refurbishment. “There is now a boutique feel to the property which makes the hotel stand out amongst its peers and we’re incredibly proud of the work carried out. “We look forward to welcoming guests to sample our stylish new bedrooms.”

HOTEL bookings to Glasgow have increased by almost 200 per cent in the last few years, according to figures from LateRooms.com The city is currently notching up an average of three times more room bookings a night than it did in 2007, whereas hotels in Edinburgh have seen a smaller increase of 130 per cent. Also, according to the site, Glasgow is now second only to London in the most popular list of shopping destination cities. Offline marketing manager Lynda Matthews said: “Shopping is one of the nation’s favourite pasttimes, and we wanted to analyse where the UK are spending their money on hotels. “LateRooms.com customers are incredibly savvy at snapping up a bargain, and we are pleased to see our home-grown shopping destinations of London and Glasgow doing so well against their European counterparts, in the hotel market as well as the shopping stakes.” 3


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Aberdeen hotel celebrates sixth top spot in row A SUCCESSFUL Scottish business is celebrating a continuous run of six months as the top rated hotel in Aberdeen on travel review website TripAdvisor. Out of 66 hotels in the city, Skene House Whitehall is ranked number one, with guests citing aspects such as exceptional value for money, attentive staff, spaciousness and city centre location as reasons why they enjoy their stay. Manager Karen Barbour said: "TripAdvisor is an incredibly useful resource for the modern traveller who is keen to ensure their choices will result in the best possible stay. “To be ranked one continuously for six months is a great honour that our staff are immensely proud of. We endeavour to provide everything our guests desire in their home from home, from baby-sitting services to Champagne afternoon tea, insuite massage, gym access and restaurant or theatre bookings.” To celebrate six months at number one, the company is treating guests to dinner up to the value of £50, at one of its partner restaurants, Moon Fish Cafe.

Scottish visitors urged to cross the sea to Ireland By Christina Eccles SCOTS have been invited to take a trip over the sea to Northern Ireland as part of a major new drive to boost annual Scottish visitor numbers to the country by 100,000. With one in five Scots claiming to have Irish heritage, Ireland’s tourism body enlisted the support of national beauty queens Jennifer Reoch and Finola Guinnane, to encourage people in Scotland take in Northern Ireland’s must-see attractions in 2012. Tourism Ireland estimates Scots could bring into the country over £60m in tourism revenue this year, as Northern Ireland gears up for a year of festivals and events, kicking off with the Titanic Belfast Festival. Chief executive of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons said: “Scotland is a key market for Northern Ireland, demonstrated by the fact that around one in five of all Northern Ireland’s overseas visitors are Scots. “We’re aiming to attract a further 100,000 visitors from Scotland in 2012, which shouldn’t be too out of reach given the natural

National beauty queens Jennifer Reoch and Finola Guinnane affiliation that already exists between the Scots and the Irish. “A range of high-impact signature projects are taking place across Northern Ireland this year, starting with the Titanic exhibition in Belfast, which I’m sure will have Scots hopping over the sea to enjoy and explore. And with Northern Ireland being so easily accessible for Scots, there has never been a better time to ‘jump in’ and plan a visit.”

TV chef to prepare meal ‘fit for a Duke’ to showcase area’s food By Helen Williams

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TELEVISION chef Simon Rimmer will help showcase Peak District food at the tourist board’s annual conference in Buxton. Currently presenter and resident chef on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, Simon will join an afternoon cook-in at the Visit Peak District and Derbyshire Tourism Conference on May 9. Simon, who presents food programmes on BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 5, will be joined by Derbyshire chef Simon Bradley, head chef at

award-winning East Lodge Hotel and Restaurant, Rowsley, and one other guest chef. The chefs will both have half an hour to prepare a twocourse meal ‘fit for a Duke’ – in this case, the Duke of Devonshire – who will address the conference in the morning. The meal will use as much local and seasonal food as possible, and Simon will quiz the chefs about the importance of local produce, especially Peak District specialities. The conference theme this

year is ‘Inspired by You,’ which aims to celebrate the many hundreds of people, organisations and specialities, including food and drink, which make the Peak District unique. Around 60 stalls will feature the area’s best producers in the Showcase Exhibition, free to conference delegates, local businesses and the general public from 9am to 3pm. The exhibition includes a leaflet zone, where local businesses can display promotional literature to other businesses and visitors.

Simon Rimmer

Other upcoming highlights include the outdoor Land of the Giants arts festival and the Belfast Festival at Queen’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Londonderry will play host to the Peace One Day concert in June whilst the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway will be decked out with a state-of-the-art visitor centre over the summer months.


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‘Holiday tax’ could cripple UK tourism – park operator By Christina Eccles PROPOSALS to introduce a new ‘holiday tax’ could cripple the UK tourism industry, the largest holiday park operator in the North of England has warned. South Lakeland Parks, which operate nine holiday parks throughout the Lake District and Lancashire, believe Government plans to impose VAT at 20 per cent on the sale of holiday homes could lead to people turning their backs on UK holidays in favour of seemingly more affordable alternatives overseas. Managing director Nigel Wimpenny explained: “Much has been made in the media of the ‘pasty taxes’ and ‘granny taxes’ but yet again it seems the caravan and holiday park industry has been overlooked as a poor relative. “At a time when we should be doing all we can to encourage more people to holiday at home and buy British, the reality is quite the opposite. “Even on our most affordable brand new caravan, a 20 per cent price hike adds an extra £4,000 to the

cost of purchase, which is substantial enough to make people reconsider buying a UK holiday home in favour of simply taking a few more European holidays.” Further research from the organisation that represents the interests of UK holiday parks, the British Homes and Holiday Parks Association, also shows 53,000 UK jobs are supported by the industry, with many often in rural areas. On parks alone, it is estimated one job will be lost for every 15 holiday park pitches left vacant as a result of the new holiday tax, with a knock-on effect on many more indirect jobs. Nigel added: “This will not only impact on the tourism spend in areas like the Lake District, it will bring the British manufacturers of holiday homes to their knees. As holiday parks see a drop in demand from consumers, they will inevitably buy less from the manufacturers. Both of which will lead to job losses in the industry and in those businesses that are indirectly supported by tourism spend such as local cafes, pubs and restaurants, visitor attractions and shops.”

Colchester Zoo’s latest baby Aardvark has gone on view to visitors for the first time. The-month-old baby will also soon be introduced to the rest of the Aardvark group, which continues to be one of the most successful breeding groups in Europe.

Four star delight at refurbished hotel A DONCASTER hotel has benefited from a £5m refurbishment to renovate facilities and extend the property. Improvements at the Earl of Doncaster include 44 newlydeveloped luxury rooms with full climate control, 32” flat screen televisions and walk in showers. Hotel manager Fraser Wolstencroft said: “The new part of the hotel has been purpose built to reflect the high standard of quality and value, and all the rooms have been designed and furnished to the highest specification. “As well as the new extension to the hotel, we also completely renovated the existing bedrooms, redesigning them to match our new style, and to bring them up to the same high standard of the new bedrooms.” The hotel has also recently been awarded four star

status from Visit England, making it the only four star independent hotel in Doncaster centre. Fraser added: “We are obviously delighted that we have been awarded four star status and a special award for service, something which we are very proud of. “We do pride ourselves on our quality of service, and all our staff are trained to the highest of levels to strive to exceed customer expectations every time. We want our guests to have a luxury experience when they visit us, and to enjoy the hotel and its ambience.”

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In association with:

DESTINATIONOXFORDSHIRE

Guest house in line for award

Attractions across Oxfordshire have announced plans to celebrate the upcoming Diamond Jubilee. Highlights over the long weekend of June 2-5 include a ‘1950s now and then’ party in Oxford, accompanied by live music and performances. Blenheim Palace will also be hosting a special Jubilee exhibition, marking 60 years of the Queen’s reign. Meanwhile in Abingdon, the traditional bun-throwing, Party in the Park and Grand Jubilee Ball will culminate in a spectacular firework display.

Visit Oxfordshire launches new website VISIT Oxfordshire has launched a new website, designed to give up to date news and information on the destination management organisation which represents the local tourism industry. The website provides one of the main portals of communication between Visit Oxfordshire and tourism businesses across the county, with a special log-in area dedicated to its partners.

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Access to research and marketing activities from Visit Oxfordshire, as well as information on the national tourism bodies, links to useful websites and details on a joint partnership scheme with Tourism South East are all provided on the introductory pages of the new website. Director Susi Golding said: “We are delighted to be launching www.visitoxfordshire.org which has

been designed with a dedicated partners’ area following consultation with businesses across Oxfordshire. “The new website will ensure useful information including business support is easily available in one location for tourism businesses, as well as providing a one-stop shop for travel media to find out about tourism news across the county.”

AN Oxfordshire accommodation provider has been shortlisted for a prestigious tourism award. Abbey Guest House in Abingdon on Thames has been named as a finalist in the Access for All Tourism Award category at the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. As a finalist, the property now goes forward to the glittering awards ceremony – held on May 22 at the Athena in Leicester – where all finalists are guaranteed to receive either a gold, silver, bronze or highly commended award. Visit England chief executive James Berresford said: “The quality of submissions this year has been outstanding and Abbey Guest House can justifiably take credit and pride in earning a place in the top six in their category in England. “I wish everyone all the best for the final in May.”


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DESTINATIONOXFORDSHIRE

Boathouse welcomes visitors

Hotels take pride in looking after their guests AT Four Pillars Hotels we have been welcoming groups and hosting events for over 30 years. We are renowned for our attention to detail and take pride in caring for our guests. Our experienced and dedicated staff will assist with the organisation, offer ideas and ensure everything runs smoothly from your initial enquiry to the actual event. Our six hotels are conveniently located in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds, all of which are easily accessible, have ample parking and can accommodate a number of coaches. With properties ranging from a Victorian mansion to a

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contemporary lakeside resort, we are bound to have the perfect venue for a truly memorable visit, whatever your preferred style and budget. Comfort and style are all par for the course at our hotels. Choose from a range of en suite bedrooms, all of which offer those special touches and attention to detail that will make an overnight stay a pleasure. We also have great leisure facilities, so whether your guests fancy a workout in the gym or a relaxing spa treatment, they'll leave feeling truly rejuvenated. We offer excellent accommodation rates for groups, with free accommodation for the coach driver.

ESTABLISHED in 1904 and still a family run working boathouse and restaurant with 80 handmade punts in the water, the Cherwell Boathouse is an iconic Oxford punt station and restaurant on the banks of the River Cherwell. The well known local restaurant has

a superlative wine list and is open all year round with an alfresco terrace on the decking in the summer. In season, the Teahut bar and cafe serves light food and drinks on a river terrace all day long. Private parties, events and corporate entertainment can be catered for all year round.

Castle ideal for group visits BROUGHTON Castle is a beautiful 14th century house set within a moat. It is the location for many films including Shakespeare in Love and features a walled garden with old roses and fine herbaceous borders. It is the ideal location for group visits as there is a tearoom and shop onsite plus free car parking facilities. There are open days from May 1 to September 15 on Wednesdays, Sundays and all Bank Holidays from 2-5pm and Thursdays throughout July and August, although groups are welcome by appointment throughout the year.


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In association with:

The perfect day out

Oxfordshire attraction Bicester Village is launching a menswear version of its successful British Designers Collective later this month. Following the success of the women’s boutique, the pop-up store is an exclusive collaboration between Bicester Village and the British Fashion Council, offering emerging and established British menswear designers the opportunity to showcase their collections in a unique setting.

STEEPED in inspirational history and surrounded by beautiful parkland and formal gardens, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire offers the perfect day out for groups. This year there are stunning new visitor facilities with a multi-million investment in the cafes, new group menus designed by the newly appointed Searcys catering and a fabulous new shop and visitor centre opening in

summer. There are a host of superb special events including a remarkable garden installation featuring 200 ceramic delphiniums on display from June 1–September 17 celebrating the Cultural Olympiad, and groups can see the palace dressed for ‘A Journey through Christmas – the Story of the Three Kings’ from November 10–December 14.

Wealth of diverse experiences OXFORDSHIRE offers a wealth of diverse experiences appealing to all ages. Oxford's unique heritage is legendary – five free museums, Botanic Garden, Bodleian Library, Castle/Prison and colleges, explored with fascinating official guided walking tours. Other attractions make excellent two destination visits – Blenheim Palace with Cotswold Wildlife Park; Bicester Village with Broughton Castle or

Waterperry Gardens; river cruises with the River and Rowing Museum; Sulgrave Manor with Banbury's Castle Quay. Millet's Farm or Farmer Gow's and Didcot Railway Centre have particular appeal to youngsters. Accommodation for groups spans five star spa luxury to budget hotels and hostels. Oxfordshire's great for groups. Special for 2012 – the Tree of Light events.

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City hopes new pass will give it the edge ...

Jenny Hartland, Chair of Holgate Windmill Preservation Society outside Holgate Windmill in York, celebrating being part of the new tourism campaign.

VISIT York has launched a new marketing drive to encourage tour operators and travel agents to sell its new City Pass. The campaign will include attending workshops in Britain to promote the pass to inbound tour operators and persuade them to include it as part of their holiday packages. Visit York will also be ramping up its leisure marketing campaigns, including large-scale outdoor advertising from Edinburgh to London at key routes along the East Coast rail network, as well as an online campaign at www.yorkpass.com and social media activity. Head of marketing at Visit York Kate McMullen said: “Our new campaign aimed at travel agents and tour operators both in the UK and overseas will boost sales and bring new visitors to York. “Visitors both in the UK and overseas are looking for value for money and our strong links with inbound tour operators will enable us to sell York in Europe and the United States by using the York

Pass as a key incentive to visit. “We’re now on track to increase business further and we will also be promoting the York Pass more heavily domestically, which will give York a strong competitive edge over other UK destinations.” The pass gives holders access to free entry to over 30 top visitor attractions, plus additional offers at restaurants and money off theatre tickets over one, two or three days. Attractions included range from some of York’s favourite landmarks to more unusual places such as the Holgate Windmill, the only remaining windmill in the city. Chair of Holgate Windmill Preservation Society Jenny Hartland added: “We are delighted to be a part of the new York Pass. Smaller attractions like ours, which are off the beaten track are not so easy for visitors to find. By being part of this new marketing drive, more visitors will seek us out, helping to boost our visitor numbers and showcasing the variety of York’s tourism offer.”

Titanic experience attracts over 50,000 By Helen Williams TITANIC Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience which opened this spring, has attracted over 50,000 visitors to date. The £76m project covers the liner’s entire journey from its conception in Belfast in the early 1900s through to its maiden voyage, the ship’s place in history and the discovery of the wreck. On its opening weekend in March (half day Saturday and all of Sunday) over 6,000 people visited the exhibition. Extending over nine galleries, the visitor experience has multiple dimensions such as special effects, full-scale reconstructions and interactive features.

Among highlights are a ‘dark ride’ through the shipyard showing the vessel being built, a ‘video cave’ with a 3D video journey of what each deck looked like, and a film of the discovery of the wreck on a 12m screen. There is also a video of the launch of Titanic’s sister ship the Olympic and a window reveal of the slipways outside where the Titanic was first launched. Audio visual company DJ Willrich carried out the AV hardware installation and project lead John Doe said the key to the work was meticulous planning. He added: “With Titanic Belfast there was also a huge sense of collaboration between contractors, so it went very smoothly.”

Free breaks for electric car owners A PIONEERING Lake District hotel offered free bank holiday breaks for electric car owners, in a bid to encourage visitors to become more environmentally aware. 10 Following the recent launch of its

first ever electric car charging point, the four star Langdale Hotel and Spa offered a complimentary night’s stay to the first four people who arrived at the hotel by electric car over the May bank holiday weekend.

A new guidebook has been launched which gives information on over 400 churches in Norfolk open to visitors. The Diocese of Norwich’s Open Churches 2012 guidebook, is a free A-Z guide of historic churches across the county. It covers the Great Yarmouth area, the Broads and Norwich, the North Norfolk Coast, and market towns like Dereham, Swaffham, and Wymondham, as well as the Norfolk countryside.

Serving ‘Tea with the Queen’ A BOUTIQUE London hotel is offering a special ‘tea with the Queen’ package to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. Over the long bank holiday weekend, Park Plaza

Sherlock Holmes is giving visitors the chance to sample a traditional afternoon tea while watching the jubilee celebrations on a massive 60-inch screen.


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Later in 2012, Henry VIII’s fabulous state apartments at Hampton Court Palace will be topped off with an impressive finale focusing on his legacy and the Tudor dynasty that succeeded him. The highlight will be the newly re-created crown of Henry VIII in the royal pew. Henry’s richly decorated imperial crown was a powerful object worn by the King but also used to crown his children as they succeeded him and his successors down to Charles I. The crown is based on detailed research into inventories of Henry’s possessions which tell us in detail how it was constructed and how and where the stones were placed in it. Sadly, the real crown no longer exists as it was destroyed by Cromwell’s government. However, the excellent Tudor records and contemporary images have enabled us to create a very accurate replica. The crown jeweller and his master craftsmen will re-create this spectacular Tudor object in silver-gilt with semi-precious or artificial stones, ensuring that it looks as spectacular and authentic as possible.

From 4th April 2012, the brand new exhibition The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned will take place at Hampton Court Palace. This is a story about the fascination of love, glamour, celebrity, lust and power and involved some of the key characters that lived, loved and died at the palace- Charles II, James II, William III & Queen Mary II and Queen Anne from 1660-1714. Beauty was a good thing; it was a reflection of divine perfection, an indication of virtue, but it was also a good excuse to decorate private chambers with soft-core private delights! In the exotic world of the Restoration court, beauty could be exploited; women used it to command a new personal and political influence at the heart of government, but were themselves chased and abused. This temporary exhibition will be included in admission until the end of September. It will principally contain magnificent artworks to reveal the stories and scandals and will include items from the Royal Collection and other public and private collections, with a significant number not currently on display.

For help and advice in organising group visits to any of the historic royal palaces, contact the groups and travel trade team on +44 (0) 20 3166 6311 or e-mail groupsandtraveltrade@hrp.org.uk. Please quote “Destination UK May” when contacting us.


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DESTINATIONNEWS Discounting, joint marketing – and promoting gardens – were among themes at this year’s Best of Britain and Ireland Minister’s Question Time. Destination UK’s Helen Williams went along.

Questions put to expert panel Stark warning for businesses By Helen Williams VISITENGLAND chief executive James Berresford issued a ‘stark warning’ to businesses who were not online during a seminar at Best of Britain and Ireland. He said: “I found a colleague stuffing envelopes and discovered that a couple of thousand businesses don’t even have an email address. For those businesses that aren’t online this is a stark warning. You are not in the real world if you don’t have a website.” Speaking at ‘The Time to be in England’ event at Birmingham NEC, James, pictured above, said the real opportunity in 2012 was the domestic one. He added: “Destinations such as the North East, East of England and East Midlands are doing well. Visits are up five per cent on the previous year, and attractions’ performance was positive through most of 2011.” There was also a buzz about VisitEngland’s three-year £25m campaign, currently running a TV advert with personalities like Julie Walters and Stephen Fry. Confidence levels varied in the accommodation sector, but caravanning, camping and selfcatering were positive as were hotels, while guest houses were less so. Larger operators with

money to invest in marketing were doing well and there was a growing trend of ‘switchers’ – people replacing a foreign holiday with a break at home in the UK. However, the bed and breakfast sector was doing poorly. It had been hit by competition from chains like Travelodge and Premier Inn and had also lost business from young families “feeling the pinch.” James added: “There is no room for complacency or second best. People are being driven by value offers.” At the same time, the tourism sector was fighting an uphill battle for funding because of the demise of regional development agencies – who had put £60m a year into tourism – and cuts in local authority spending resulting in the closure of tourism information centres. “There is widespread consumer concern about the economic environment, although levels seem to have peaked in February.” James also backed audience member and ethical travel writer Catherine Mack who urged B&Bs to offer tie-ins with their local activity providers. He added: “We’ve got to mesh in with the local community. It’s not enough just to say ‘we’re a B&B,’ you’ve got to show how you’re adding value.”

The panel:  James Berresford, chief executive, VisitEngland  Riddell Graham, director of partnerships, VisitScotland  Chris Osborne, chair, Wales Tourism Alliance  Leo Varadkar TD, minister for transport, tourism and sport, Republic of Ireland  John Penrose MP, minister for tourism and heritage  Bernard Donoghue (chair), director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions

Q .“We’re giving discounts to Americans coming over for the Olympics. But what about British tourism for Brits?” Sandra Chevey, who runs educational walks around Alfred Hitchcock film locations in London. A .James: “I’m a passionate believer in leading with our strongest brands – and our cities are at the forefront of that – but our research also shows that people are worried about money. When you are faced with losing your job do you go away for the weekend? Saying that, there are some ideas to attract visitors that are all about ‘pizzazz’ – one of my favourites for 2012 is an idea in Cornwall where they are offering 20 Cornish handmade chocolates and 12 roses. Putting up prices is the short game and we don’t want to jeopardise things by charging through the roof.” A .Riddell: “A high proportion of our tourism is represented by people from Glasgow and Edinburgh and many of these visitors return five or six times. We have no evidence that a hike in prices is affecting Scotland – I spent last night meeting 20 of our top end caterers who are increasing prices, not discounting in the year ahead.” A .Chris: “I have tried to encourage government to have a ‘Come to Wales’ campaign targeted at people who actually

don’t want to see the Olympics, but without success.” Q .“We no longer promote gardens. It is a low cost exercise – couldn’t we have a leaflet listing UK gardens in your offices in Beijing, New York, etc?” Wendy Dare, owner/manager of Mill Dene Garden, Gloucestershire. A .James: “We don’t have money to give to individual concerns to do brochures but we do have a very sophisticated PR machine that can and does support any strong theme. English gardens is a very strong theme – so I am with you.” A .Chris: “There is less money but we do have some outstanding gardens, such as the National Botanic Garden of Wales.” A .Leo: “There are budget issues. For example, coastal resorts are popular too and there is only so much to go around. However, gardens are hugely popular – it sounds like everyone now wants to speed date the garden folk!” Q .“Would you consider providing sponsorship to independent operators in the domestic market for joint marketing?” Ellen Walker, group travel manager, Brightwater Holidays, Fife. A .James: “Our budget is miniscule when you compare it to others and money available is all about partnership marketing. I am delighted to consider options as long as they deliver a return.”

VisitEngland winners to be announced By Helen Williams FINALISTS in this year’s VisitEngland Awards for Excellence include a walking tour through a 900-year-old Cumbria slate mine, a family-run organic dairy farm and the UK’s first overnight safari experience in Kent. VisitEngland announced the shortlist for its annual awards last month, and winners will be announced at a ceremony on May 12 22 in Leicester.

Entries are rigorously assessed by independent assessors and judged by a board of tourism industry experts chaired by VisitEngland board member David Orr. The panel, which also included travel broadcaster Alison Rice, had the task of whittling down 392 entries to the final shortlist of 69. VisitEngland said exceptional progress had been made this year in terms of accessible tourism.

Finalists for the Access For All Tourism Award ranged from Campus accommodation at the University of Leeds – where the Canadian Paralympic Rugby Team is staying – to Sandcastle Waterpark, which has a gold standard wet changing room with sensory equipment and hoist tracking system. Among other finalists were pub restaurant The George and Dragon, which only uses sustainable produce from within a 20-mile radius,

Lancaster’s only five star B&B, The Ashton, and luxury country hotel Bovey Castle. This year’s winners ceremony will feature the presentation of the inaugural Tourism Superstar Award to Newcastle cab driver, Alan Fidler. Other categories include the award for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism, which will be announced on the night, and Travel Article of the Year.


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Musical hits the high notes with award record MATILDA The Musical broke the record recently for the most Olivier Awards won by one show.

the power of imagination and the inspiring story of a girl who dares to change her destiny.

In total, the show scooped seven awards including the award for best actress in a musical which was presented to the four child stars who share the role.

National sales manager at Superbreak Graham Balmforth said: “Winning awards always raises the profile of a show further and drives demand.

The show has been wowing audiences in the West End since it opened in October and Superbreak, who offer packages that combine overnight accommodation and tickets is expecting demand to increase further on the back of these high profile awards.

“I urge agents to ensure they ride on the hype and push the show to any interested customers.

Matilda The Musical also won:

Three star package – from £139pp staying one night b/b at the three star President Hotel and including a top priced ticket to the show. Valid any day of the week from August 24 to end of December. Based on two sharing.

 Best new musical  Best actor in a musical – for Bertie Carvel's genius portrayal of tyrant headmistress Miss Trunchbull  Best director – Matthew Warchus  Best choreography – Peter Darling  Best set design – Rob Howell  Best sound design – Simon Baker Inspired by the twisted genius of Roald Dahl, with original songs from comedian Tim Minchin, Matilda is the captivating new musical masterpiece from the RSC that revels in the anarchy of childhood,

“Its great for families and couples alike and we have a wide range of hotels available across the capital to suit all tastes and budgets.” Sample packages include:

Four Star package – from £161pp staying one night b/b at the four star Double Tree by Hilton West End Hotel including a top price ticket to the show. Valid Friday and Saturday evenings from August 24 until the end of December. Based on two sharing. For more information and bookings call Superbreak 0871 221 4444 or visit www.superbreak.com/agents

Pictured right: Bertie Carvel (best actor in a musical) And left, from left to right: Sophia Kiely, Kerry Ingram, Eleanor Worthington-Cox and Cleo Demetriou with Dennis Kelly, Tim Minchin and Bertie Carvel Pictures courtesy of Helen Maybanks

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DESTINATIONCENTRESTAGE Chart topping singer Gareth Gates is to headline a special concert celebrating the best of the musicals. The Momentous Musicals gala concert takes place on July 14 at the New Wimbledon Theatre and will feature songs from much loved musicals including West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. He will be joined by a cast of West End stars including Rachael Wooding, who has appeared in popular shows including Jersey Boys and Hairspray.

Ticket agent of the year named The smash hit touring production of Chicago is returning to Torquay’s Princess Theatre later this year. The show is on from July 23 28, with the cast to be confirmed.

ENCORE has been named ticket agent of the year by the Society of Box Office Managers. The company was presented with the award at the society’s annual dinner and awards night, held at

Sadler’s Wells, and attended by box office managers and staff from all the principal West End theatres. Marketing director Chris Ryan said: “There are no better judges of good

service in the ticketing industry than the hard working staff and managers of theatre box offices. So we are extremely proud to win this award and the extent to which it reflects on our team at Encore.”

No better time to see Wicked

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AS London readies to welcome the world this summer, the “royal” district of Victoria is set to become the destination of choice, with its easy access and proximity to many of London's best attractions – including world-class theatre such as Wicked, which tells the incredible untold story of the witches of Oz. Currently playing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, amid some of the world’s most iconic tourist attractions including Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, audiences of Wicked are free to take advantage of local events such as the Changing of The Guard, or a picturesque walk through St James’s Park (London’s oldest Royal Park). The wide selection of local restaurants and hotels make the ideal settings for lunch, afternoon tea or pre-theatre dinner, the perfect accompaniment to a matinee or evening performance.

Victoria will be one of the most easily accessible areas of the city throughout the summer with the London Victoria Mainline Station, supplied by Southern Trains, Southeastern Trains and the Gatwick Express, the adjacent Victoria Underground Station, providing immediate access to the wider London network, and the nearby Victoria Coach Station, supplying access to the rest of the UK. For overnight stays, The Rubens at the Palace, situated opposite the historic Royal Mews, is a charming, four star hotel offering a friendly welcome and choice of three restaurants. With performances throughout The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, there has never been a better time to experience Wicked, one of the West End’s longest-running and most popular musicals.


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DESTINATIONNEWS

UK day trips provide important boost to economy, says survey DAY trips in the UK contribute over £54b to the country’s economy, according to new figures. A survey conducted by VisitEngland – in partnership with the national tourist boards of Wales and Scotland – shows British residents took 1.5b tourism day trips in the UK last year, spending £54b. In England alone, Brits took 1.3b trips, spending £44b. Visiting friends and family (350m trips) and going out for meals and drinks (together, 250m) were the most popular reasons for day trips, with outdoor activities following close behind. Shopping also featured in the top 10 reasons, as did visiting attractions and to watch live sporting or public events. VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said: “This survey

represents a very important piece of the domestic tourism jigsaw. “Day visits are enormously important to the industry and the British economy and represent the cornerstone of the tourism industry in this country. English Tourism Week kicks off what promises to be a great year marked by amazing events such as the Torch Relay, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Cultural Festival. This is the year to take a day trip that you will never forget.” To capitalise on the popularity of day trips, VisitEngland has also launched a new website www.great2012offers.com to ensure affordable visits are available throughout the country. The site has thousands of offers on accommodation, meals, attractions, transport and events with a discount of 20.12 per cent or better.

A welcome message to the world ... WITH less than 100 days to go until the Olympics, VisitBritain has issued a welcome message to the world. Chief executive of Visit Britain Sandie Dawe said the 100 day mark was a unique opportunity to highlight the welcome the UK can offer to visitors this summer. She added:” The overwhelming perception of Britain around the world is positive and 2012 is our chance to shine. According to the latest Nations Brand Index

we’ve taken great strides over the last year to deliver a firstclass welcome for our visitors which has helped the UK move up the rankings to become the third most admired country in the world. “The countdown begins here and the tourism industry is ready to play its part alongside LOCOG to offer a warm welcome which will help create a lasting tourism legacy for many years to come.”

Daniel Gidney (Ricoh Arena), Adam Butcher (Warwick Castle) and Gary Hall (Coventry Transport Museum) at Warwick Castle.

Businesses join forces for new ticket campaign By Christina Eccles

Brian appointed general manager

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DOUBLETREE by Hilton Chester has a new general manager, Brian Connor. Hotel management company, Sanguine Hospitality, recruited him to help drive the business forward and position it as the north west's leading hotel, leisure and events venue. Brian, pictured above, has over 20 years' experience in the hospitality industry and in his new role, he will be responsible for the general

running of the hotel and growing its conference, weddings and events business. He said: "The opportunity to work with Sanguine and manage DoubleTree by Hilton Chester, not to mention a Marco Pierre White restaurant, is fantastic. We're at a key time in our development and I'm looking forward to building on the hard work and dedication that has got us this far.”

A MAJOR new campaign has been launched to encourage Olympic tourists and other visitors to stay in the Coventry and Warwickshire area for longer this summer. The C&W Big Ticket, spearheaded by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Ricoh Arena and Coventry Transport Museum, will allow tourists to access a range of the area’s attractions on a single ticket. The Big Ticket will provide family and adult tickets in three different price categories, as part of a drive to entice people to stay longer in the region, particularly this summer while they are attending any of the 12 football matches taking place at the City of Coventry Stadium. Chief executive of the Ricoh Arena Daniel Gidney said: “Everyone involved is committed to making sure everyone who visits Coventry and Warwickshire for the Olympics goes away with a positive impression and wants to make a return visit. “We have a varied and eclectic range of tourist attractions and this is the perfect opportunity to showcase the venues to a new

audience. By launching the Big Ticket we believe we will be encouraging people to stay longer in the area because there are a high number of venues taking part and there is something to appeal for everyone. And this also underlines the positive impact the LEP is having since it is a success story of the private sector coming together with Warwick District Council, Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council to make this happen.” Chief executive of Coventry Transport Museum Gary Hall added: “Tourism is a vital part of our heritage as well as our future and we must do everything we can to promote ourselves to people who will be visiting Coventry and Warwickshire from all corners of the globe with many coming for the first time. “The Big Ticket website lists all the venues taking part along with the great savings visitors can make. The Olympics means we have never had a better chance to promote our attractions to such a global audience and it is an opportunity we wanted to seize because we have some fantastic tourist attractions in our region.”


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Throughout 2012, groups will get even more value for their visit when the incredible story of the Tower’s menagerie will be revealed as it is brought to life through a selection of specially commissioned animal sculptures installed around the Fortress. Wild and exotic animals were kept at the Tower for the entertainment and curiosity of the royal household and visitors for over 600 years. Kings and queens kept the extraordinary creatures as symbols of power. Visitors can discover the amazing tales of how animals were fed, watered and housed and compare how animals and prisoners were kept at the Tower. The experience will include displays along the north walk and Brick Tower where numerous interesting exhibits will be included.

The Crown Jewels will be newly presented from 29th March 2012. This new exhibition will explore the importance of the Crown Jewels to the British monarchy, the role of the Tower in protecting these treasures and the long and fascinating tradition of coronations in England. The mystique and beauty of diamonds and precious jewels in the collection have always held an unparalleled allure to visitors from across the globe. The Coronation ceremony will be the central theme of the re-presentation. The displays will examine how the royal regalia are used during the ceremony and explore the symbolism of each object. Destroyed at the Tower after the Civil War and re-made for Charles II’s coronation in 1661, the Crown Jewels signify royal authority to lead and protect the nation. The priceless collection holds some of the most legendary and extraordinary diamonds in the world. The Crown Jewels at the Tower of London are a unique working collection of royal regalia and are still used by the Queen in important national ceremonies such as the State opening of Parliament.

For help and advice in organising group visits to any of the historic royal palaces, contact the groups and travel trade team on: +44 (0) 20 3166 6311 or email: groupsandtraveltrade@hrp.org.uk. Please quote “Destination UK May” when contacting us.


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DESTINATIONNEWS

‘Make most of your weekend’ By Helen Williams

Historic attraction Salisbury Cathedral is giving pre booked groups the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes for the first time. The ‘secret Salisbury Cathedral’ tours take place on September 21 and 22 and will include access to areas normally closed to the public.

A CAMPAIGN to get people exploring the UK has been launched after a survey found only a third of Brits make the most of their weekends – blaming a lack of planning, time and cash for their shortage of fun. Half of Brits rated their weekends as “average” and nearly a fifth said their typical weekend was “boring.” Allianz Your Cover Insurance carried out the survey of 1,000 people aged 18 and over and found 66 per cent of respondents did not make the most of their weekends. Now the company has launched a ‘Great British Weekend’ campaign urging everyone to get out and about. The insurance firm’s Andy James said: “We want to instill a renewed sense of

adventure in Britons’ weekends and encourage everyone to make the most of what Britain has to offer. We are a nation that is known for ‘living for the weekend,’ but it turns out that most Brits are wasting it. Our campaign aims to highlight the potential fun there is to have at the weekend by uncovering new places or having new experiences.” The survey revealed secrets to a top weekend included being happy to spend time at home (36 per cent) or planning ahead for fun (29 per cent). Top weekend activities were relaxing at home (40 per cent), enjoying the countryside (23 per cent), watching TV (22 per cent), having a weekend break away (22 per cent), and reading a book (21 per cent). The Welsh were having the

most fun with nearly half (43 per cent) enjoying their weekends. However, only a quarter of those surveyed in Northern Ireland said they were making the most of their weekends. The research also showed:  People aged 55+ were most likely to be enjoying the year ahead with an average of five day trips planned  Most (91 per cent) Brits used their cars to go away at the weekend but were only prepared to travel an average of 58 miles  Older generations had the most adventurous spirit as they were willing to drive the furthest for a day trip and weekend away.  What do you think of the new tourism campaign? Send your comments to ce@scriptmedia.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @DUKMag

Government must act now to ensure lasting Olympic legacy By Kurt Janson I’M going to give over this column to a speech that the new Tourism Alliance President, Sir David Michels, gave in March at the Tourism Alliance reception in Parliament to mark English Tourism Week. The speech is short, simple and cuts straight to the chase. It takes as its starting position the commitment in the Coalition Programme that the Government would take steps “to improve the competitiveness of the UK tourism industry, recognising the important part it plays in our national economy.” While the commitment was admirable, the speech highlights the fact that two years into the Government’s term, only limited progress has been made in tackling the main issues that affect the international competitiveness of the UK tourism industry. “Minister, MPs, Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen I thank you for attending and thank my fellow presenters for their contributions. It must be something of a change for you all to come to a Parliamentary Reception in the current economic climate where an industry states – ‘actually, we’re doing okay at the moment and would like to help you.’ We can give you increased export revenues – we can provide you with 20 jobs – we can even target youth

employment and provide additional funds for the Exchequer. We’re very good at this and have been doing it for many years. But we could do much more. So here is the quid-pro-quo. For the safari enthusiasts among you there is a tourism “Big Five” that the Government needs to bag if its adventure into tourism is to be considered successful.

1. Reduce Regulatory Burden You’ve made a good start but you must follow through by implementing the recommendations of the Regulation Taskforce Report

2. Activity encourage overseas visitors by improving the visa system France gets 50 per cent more visitors from India than we do. That one fact tells you all you need to know about how welcoming our visa system is.

3. Sort out Aviation Capacity I shouldn’t have to even ask – it is blindingly obvious that we must do this. Not just for tourism but for the UK economy as a whole.

4. Reduce VAT on tourism products and services in line with the rest of Europe If even economic purists at the Bundesbank recognise that reducing

VAT is vital for the Germany tourism industry, maybe we should pay attention.

5. Scrap APD The UK aviation industry is the envy of most countries – so why increase APD by 650 per cent over the last five years and put people off coming here to spend their money. It makes no sense. So those are the Big Five that you have the challenge of bagging before your five year visit to Westminster concludes. Now I know that you’re going to say that, ‘Under the current economic climate we are not in a position to be able to afford to make these changes.’ It’s the easy automatic response. However, can I just finish by highlighting a speech on job creation and growth that the Irish Minister of Finance, Michael Noonan, gave on May 10 last year. In that one speech he lowered VAT, removed APD, and reduced visa requirements. He knew that it wasn’t a case of the whether the Irish economy could afford those cuts – he knew that if the Irish economy was to grow and create jobs – he couldn’t afford not to make those cuts.

Kurt Janson Thank you.” The concern that Sir David was expressing was that while the Government sees tourism as important in the lead-to the Olympics – and in staging the Olympics, wants to ensure that there is no repetition of the negative publicity associated with the Millennium Dome – it may not see tourism as being quite so important commitment after September. And if tourism isn’t quite so high up the Government agenda after September, unless there is some movement now on resolving the key competitive barriers faced by the industry, the impetus to tackle them could be extinguished along with the Olympic flame.


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In addition visitors to Kensington Palace will also be able to explore the newly landscaped gardens, take a break in the new café or indulge at The Orangery. The new visitor entrance gives groups and individuals the sense of arriving at court, so why not dress for the occasion! The new groups entrance allows visitors to rest on arrival (it is still a 5-10 minute walk from the coach park or underground station), ahead of exploring the palace. Also new for 2012, running from 26th March, an elegant and evocative new display of dresses worn by Diana, Princess of Wales will include items which have never been exhibited in the UK. This stylist-designed installation will form part of the permanent displays at Kensington. It will explore elements of the Princess’ style from the early 1980s onward and will include dresses by some of her favourite designers.

Following a £12m major project to transform Kensington Palace into a palace for everyone, the doors will open to groups from 26th March 2012 with two new exciting exhibitions in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Our first permanent story will be of Queen Victoria. In her own words, her story from childhood to old age will reveal her intimate private life set against her regal role and the conflicts this caused and dedication required of her as a person. Set within the palace and in the very rooms where Victoria’s history happened, there will be many objects from her life including dresses, diaries, paintings and wedding gifts. From 24th May to 31st October, Jubilee – The View From the Crowd, will be a temporary exhibition exploring the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. In 1897 over 3 million people had converged on London in the hope of catching a glimpse of the diminutive figure that had ruled Britain and her empire for so long. View the celebrations from the perspective of the crowds who gathered to watch the Queen’s procession through the streets of London. The exhibition will draw on personal recollections to newspaper accounts, photographs and film, as well as bringing together special loan items associated with the Jubilee year.

For help and advice in organising group visits to any of the historic royal palaces, contact the groups and travel trade team on +44 (0) 20 3166 6311 or e-mail groupsandtraveltrade@hrp.org.uk. Please quote “Destination UK

May” when contacting us.


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DESTINATIONTOURISM SOCIETY

Destinations – future performance By Ken Robinson, independent tourism advisor THE spotlight is focused on destinations, as the key entities to implement the Government’s tourism strategy and achieve the potential Olympics tourism legacy. In a post-RDA-funding world, with reduced Local Authority tourism budgets, and declining disposable income for leisure, a great deal is riding on the ability of destinations, or more precisely DMOs, to deliver. Truthfully, few tourism professionals have actually read the Government’s tourism strategy, or even more importantly, Visit England’s Strategic Framework. If you haven’t, do so, but meanwhile take my word for it: destinations, and DMOs are prescribed throughout as the mechanism for tourism growth. As minister John Penrose toured England, meeting tourism activists, the “yes minister” enthusiasm of many must have encouraged his

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conclusion that DMOs could easily be invigorated by “freeing them up from the public sector’s grip”, and withdrawing most public funding. In reality of course, DMOs vary greatly. Some are Local Authority dominated, others are private sector. Most are open to any bona fide tourism business, but some are selective, even undemocratic. Some are hardly even “organisations”. Most have been solely for marketing, which is why many members joined, with grantleveraged budgets. Tourism growth needs much more than marketing, but few DMOs have embraced tourism management. The Government’s Strategy prescribes that DMOs cover tourism management, and be private sector led. Visit England reflected this in the eligibility criteria for the new Destination Forum. The requirement for private sector leadership excluded several of our longest established and best managed destinations such as Blackpool and Brighton. Some are now restructuring or creating joint

companies to qualify. DMOs must be formalised and strengthened, but as their roles and responsibilities have increased, funding has reduced. The great challenge for VisitEngland is how, without funds, to adequately support and speed this transformation process. They named Pathfinder Destinations (Bath, Peak District and Derbyshire, The Broads and Manchester) to test new business models. But the loss or reduction of funding has shrunk the competence and capacity of many DMOs, and is causing members to doubt the value of ongoing involvement. The Government Strategy asserted “Thankfully this (funding) problem has now been solved” by letting Local Authorities retain part of any increase in business rates. But insiders think any extra funds raised are more likely to be allocated to other cash-starved responsibilities. Latterly the concept of TBIDs (Tourism Business Improvement Districts) has emerged as a potential fundraising mechanism, but the indications are it is likely to work well in a few places. VisitEngland’s clever Regional Growth Fund scheme is limited to the previously RDA-rich areas, and worth less than 10 per cent of what’s been lost. The Government’s ‘Growing Places’ funding, to be influenced by LEPs, will only benefit a small number of projects, and few in tourism. Question: With all this in mind, I have in recent weeks been asking senior DMO colleagues, how is it going? How well are you overcoming the reductions in funding? Worryingly, I have yet to find anyone who thinks that things have stabilised or are improving. And most concerning is their response to

Ken Robinson the question “Two years from now, will DMOs be stronger or weaker?” The thoughtful answer from almost all is “Weaker”. If they are right, and they should know, this is a big worry. 2012 is a very exciting but unusual year. Belatedly, realism about the impact of the Olympics on domestic tourism, alongside the five per cent domestic growth target in the Government’s and VisitEngland’s strategies, has prompted £4m of Government funding for the unprecedented domestic holidays campaign. No carping, this and the GREAT campaign will help. But they will not be enough. All DMOs must work effectively to achieve our tourism potential. Local Authorities must be incentivised to support the delivery of local tourism policies (which LAs must be required to have), to boost participation by tourism businesses, and VisitEngland needs greater funding and freedom to ensure a stronger working network is in place.

The Peak District was selected as one of the Pathfinder Destinations to test new business models


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Destination Uk May 2012  

Promoting UK tourism to the worlds travel trade

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