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Issue 53 July/August 2013 £2.75

Route marks would help cut clutter By Christina Eccles

BRITAIN’S attractions and major events could reduce sign clutter around the streets by adopting simple, join-the-dots, colour-coded route marks for visitors, the Road Safety Markings Association has claimed. According to the association, new technology means permanent or temporary markings can be laid for just a few hundred pounds, providing clear information on roads and pavements. Using a resin that can be softened with a mild detergent and then removed with a low-pressure water spray, the association says the markings are ideal for one-off events such as summer festivals and shows, as well as to direct tourists in towns and cities. National director George Lee said: “It is time we addressed the proliferation of road signs and signposts throughout the UK, particularly in our historic towns and cities and picturesque villages. “Just look at an average-sized city like Sheffield, for example, which has an astounding 28,000 street signs and 18,000 items of street furniture. “The UK remains firmly in the world’s top 10 tourist destinations,

while the slow economy continues to make ‘staycations’ and ‘daycations’ attractive for Britons. “On top of this, there are hundreds of music festivals – from the Edinburgh Festival vying with the World Pipe Band Championships over in Glasgow; and with music spanning all tastes from bluegrass and opera to hard rock. “All too often, planners and event organisers opt for the conventional sign on a pole to direct visitors, leading to cluttered, confusing signage and obstacles at every turn. “Road – or pavement or bike lane – markings can be made temporary, such as for the London Marathon, which were laid the night before the run, and removal completed within eight hours of the finish. “The RSMA believes that more tourist attractions and routes could be effectively marked in towns and cities, so that visitors can reach all the top sights following unobtrusive tracks, either laid down to last, or for short-lived events. It really should be as easy as joining the dots.”  Do you think this is a good idea? Send your views to our editorial team at ce@scriptmedia.co.uk and we will print the best responses in the next issue.

Rain fails to dampen campers’ spirits

TV presenter Helen Skelton has become one of the first people to experience an innovative new cycling initiative, set in the heart of one of the country’s most iconic landscapes. The first official Sky Ride Local bike ride got underway from Cartmel Racecourse, with Helen among those who enjoyed a 13-mile loop taking in the vibrant historic village of Cartmel and views of the South Lakeland fells. The event was the first in a series of free guided group bike rides led by British Cycling trained Ride Leaders planned for the Lake District this summer.

NEARLY two thirds of British holidaymakers wouldn’t let a wet summer spoil their camping trip, according to a survey by Campsites UK. 65 per cent of those asked said wet weather wouldn’t force them to pack up and go home, with only 35 per cent saying they would go home at the first sign of rain. British holidaymakers who responded to the survey also said they had at least two camping holidays already planned, with 23 per cent stating that the current economic climate has made them more likely to choose a camping holiday in 2013. CEO of Campsites UK Martin Smith said: “Camping continues to be a popular choice of holiday for a large majority of the British public, despite the mixed bag of weather here in the UK. “Sturdy, roomy and easy-topitch tents mean that it's now a much more enjoyable experience and a world away from our childhood memories of soggy tents and sleeping bags. “Modern camping equipment has revolutionised the way people now camp and enables the whole family to enjoy the great outdoors – whatever the weather.”


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DESTINATIONNEWS

Contacts EDITORIAL Judith Halkerston group editor 01226 734639 jh@scriptmedia.co.uk Christina Eccles reporter 01226 734463 ce@scriptmedia.co.uk Dominic Musgrave reporter 01226 734407 dm@scriptmedia.co.uk

PRODUCTION Stewart Holt – studio manager – sth@scriptmedia.co.uk Laura Blackburn – graphic designer lb@scriptmedia.co.uk

ADVERTISING

80 of the characters have been placed in prominent positions around the city.

Giant Gromits aim to get visitors to explore Bristol By Christina Eccles EIGHTY giant Gromit characters have taken up residence around Bristol, designed to encourage visitors to explore the home city of creator Aardman Animations. The characters have been positioned in prominent locations around the city, with each one painted by a high profile celebrity or artist – from comedian Harry Hill to Cath Kidson and One Direction’s Zayn Malik.

The Gromit Unleashed trail is also accompanied by a film ‘A Grand Tail’, featuring two hapless delivery drivers trying to drop Gromit off in time for the trail, but getting hopelessly lost in the city. Head of marketing at Destination Bristol Kelly Ballard said: “Having the world’s first Gromit trail is a fantastic coup for Bristol. “Gromit is one of many Bristol icons and is much-loved among global audiences, so we wanted to create a film using him to showcase

the city’s great landmarks and destinations. “The aim is to inspire people from across the UK and beyond to come and sample the city’s heritage, attractions and creative vibe. “Gromit Unleashed forms a key element of Destination Bristol’s 2013 marketing campaigns which are part of a three-year tourism marketing investment project led by Visit England and funded by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.”

Oxfordshire services receive top rating CHERWELL Valley service area in Oxfordshire has been awarded five star status for the first time in VisitEngland’s Motorway Service Area Star Ratings Scheme. The service station, run by operator Moto, was awarded four stars in the previous year’s round of assessments, and has made a range of improvements to achieve the coveted five-star status. The site was rated highly across all categories, but was particularly commended for the range of catering available and the high standard of cleanliness across the site. Family-run Tebay South in Cumbria also retained its five-star rating for the second year in a row and overall, there was a 12 per cent increase in the number of four star ratings compared to last year, with 90 per cent of participants in the scheme awarded a three star rating or above. VisitEngland’s visitor attraction

quality assurance scheme manager Janet Uttley said: “The teams at Cherwell Valley and Tebay South are to be warmly congratulated on achieving a five-star rating; our assessors were impressed by their dedication to providing a memorable, high quality experience to their customers. “The Motorway Service Area Star Ratings scheme is focused on raising quality, and we are delighted to see that so many operators have embraced the scheme and used it as a business development tool. “The last year has seen significant investment in infrastructure and staff training at motorway services across the country, and this has been reflected in the number of operators whose ratings have improved. “We look forward to working closely with them, and the Highways Agency over the coming year, continuing our drive for quality and ensuring our motorway services offer the warmest welcome possible.”

An award-winning North East hotel is offering guests the opportunity to extend their stay – for half price. The Sandman Signature Hotel in Newcastle has created a new package for visitors who book for a Saturday night stay, giving them the chance to stay on the Friday or Sunday at a 50 per cent discount.

Andrew Loades product manager 01226 734482 Tony Barry sales and marketing director 01226 734605

CIRCULATION Kelly Tarff 01226 734695 kt@scriptmedia.co.uk Web: www.destination.uk.com

Exhibition celebrates Amy’s life A NEW exhibition celebrating the life of singer Amy Winehouse has opened at the Jewish Museum in London. Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait has been curated by the museum, with help from Amy’s brother Alex and sisterin-law Riva. The family has given the museum unprecedented access to Amy's belongings, including her guitar, record collection and iconic outfits, with the exhibition celebrating her passion for music, fashion, London and her family. CEO of the Jewish Museum Abigail Morris said: “Amy Winehouse was an immensely talented, iconic and inspirational singer and she was a Jewish girl from North London. “It is fitting that the Jewish Museum in her beloved Camden Town should be the place to tell her story in the year that she would have celebrated her 30th birthday. We are very honoured that Alex and Riva chose the museum.” 3


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DESTINATIONNEWS

Games makers win top tourism award

John Turpin, group operations manager for EEF Venues, with Matthew Bottomley, head of breeding programme at the Guide Dogs for the Blind’s National Breeding Centre in Warwickshire.

Centre donates throws as part of £1m refurb WOODLAND Grange Conference Centre in Leamington is donating all of its quilted bed throws to Guide Dogs for the Blind, as part of a £1m refurbishment programme at the venue. John Turpin, group operations manager for EEF Venues – the group behind the four star conference centre – plans to donate 12 throws each month to the charity’s national Breeding Centre in Warwickshire, in

line with the scheduled refurbishment of Woodland Grange’s 114 en-suite bedrooms. He said: ”We cannot think of a better home for our bed throws. We are completely re-designing our bedrooms with new décor, bed linen, carpets and colour schemes so it is great to be able to re-cycle these quality throws and know that they will enhance the comfort of these incredible animals.”

THE best of England’s tourism industry have been recognised at the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. The trophies were handed out at a glittering ceremony – taking place at The Point, Lancashire County Cricket Club in Manchester – with categories including the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award, awarded to the army of 70,000 Games Makers for their efforts at last summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. VisitEngland chairman Lady Cobham said: “The Games Makers were ambassadors not just for London 2012, but for the entire country. “As the face of the Games, they showed great humour, grace under pressure and an amazing team spirit. The warm welcome and friendly assistance they provided will be remembered fondly by visitors from both home and abroad for many years to come, and I’m

delighted that we are able to recognise their unique contribution to tourism with this award.” Awards were also presented in categories including best bed and breakfast, small hotel, and sustainable tourism. VisitEngland’s chief executive James Berresford added: “The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence represent the highest accolade in English tourism, and this year’s winners have raised the bar higher than ever before. “The awards champion the very best in quality and customer service, and continue to help to raise standards across the industry, establishing England’s place as a world-class destination and a brilliant place to visit. The competition was fierce so all our finalists are to be warmly congratulated for their success – particularly our Gold Award winners, whose passion and commitment to excellence is exemplary.”

New ceramics trail launched VISITORS to Stoke-on-Trent can now take a look at what The Potteries does best, thanks to the creation of a new Ceramics Trail, available both online and in leaflet form. The trail aims to give visitors the chance to enjoy the complete ceramics experience by discovering

the history and heritage of the Potteries at award-winning museums and visitor centres, having a go at creating their own masterpiece with the many handson opportunities available and picking up a bargain at a factory shop, or investing in a piece of ceramic fine art.

Passenger survey results hailed by organisation chair By Christina Eccles VISITSCOTLAND has welcomed the news that Edinburgh attracted 1.3m overseas visitors last year, making it the second most visited destination in the UK behind London. Glasgow was sixth on the new Office of National Statistics International Passenger Survey list of most visited towns and cities in the UK with 521,000 visitors – a 10 per cent increase on 2011. Inverness (213,000 visitors) and Aberdeen (208,000) also performed well – featuring in the top 20 in 14th and 17th place respectively. Chairman of VisitScotland Mike Cantlay said: “It is fabulous to see Edinburgh and Glasgow proving so popular among overseas visitors. Both cities boast a wealth of things to see and these figures bode well for 2014, when we welcome the world with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and the second Year of Homecoming.” 4

Last year also saw a boost in the Brazil, Russia, India and China markets. Scotland saw a 30 per cent increase in the number of visitors from these countries (82,000 overall). Glasgow enjoyed a 54 per cent rise in these markets, while Edinburgh saw an increase of 10 per cent. Mike added: “The emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China are important to Scottish tourism as they show considerable potential for growth. “Our studies show that visitors from these countries enjoy quintessentially Scottish things, including our spectacular scenery, our castles, our golf and our whisky. “The attraction of experiencing the high end quality produce and service of Scotland played a part in the increase in visitors from Brazil and China. “We are greatly encouraged by this increase and hope to welcome more BRIC visitors to Scotland in the coming years.”

A taxi driver has teamed up with a 7ft tall alien who needs help finding his way around Northumberland. Andrew Park, who runs Park's Taxis in Seahouses, is working with BLA the alien to launch his new business, Big Local App Northumberland. The pair are visiting businesses across the county to encourage them to sign up to the new resource, which provides information for local people and visitors coming to the county on holiday.


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Walter crowned Oxfordshire Cotswolds’ first superstar By Christina Eccles WALTER Stewart-Brown has been crowned the first Oxfordshire Cotswolds Tourism Superstar. Walter, a food and beverage assistant at the Crowne Plaza Heythrop Park, beat finalists from all around the region in the competition to find local unsung heroes of tourism. Originally a national initiative, West Oxfordshire District Council is the first to develop it at a local level, working with VisitEngland and the Witney Gazette. Businesses were asked to nominate their superstars before a public vote was run online so that residents of West Oxfordshire could pick their winner. Tourism services manager for West Oxfordshire District Council Hayley Beer said: “We are delighted to be the first destination in England to run the Tourism Superstar initiative at a local level and we have had a fantastic response. We had an extremely high calibre of nominations for the award and the public really got on board and engaged with the voting. “It is great to be able to celebrate the talent we have here in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds that help

Winner Walter Stewart-Brown with prime minister David Cameron and chairman of Visit England Lady Cobham. make it such a superb visitor destination.” The award was handed out by prime minister and MP for Witney, David Cameron, at the Oxfordshire Cotswolds Summer Networking event at Eynsham Hall, which was also attended by chairman of VisitEngland Lady Cobham and over 100 local industry representatives.

Walter added: “The award means so much. I love the customer interaction and the hospitality industry is such fun. Ensuring that customers have a good experience gives me a lot of pleasure and I hope they will come back and visit. I am very passionate about West Oxfordshire and Heythrop Park and I like to share this with visitors.”

Increase in campsite bookings BRITISH families are rediscovering the great outdoors and turning to camping for a bargain break this summer, according to Gulliver's children's theme park in Milton Keynes. The park has seen a five per cent rise in bookings for its onsite campsite, run by the Camping and Caravanning Club, compared to this time last year and a 32 per cent rise compared to 2011. Gulliver's managing director Julie Dalton said: "We Brits are rediscovering the joys of ‘the simple life' – a Great British camping holiday is a lovely way to bring the family together for a fun getaway that won't break the bank. "Budgets are tight but there's a sense of national pride and increased interest in exploring our country on the back of last year's Diamond Jubilee and Olympic Games. “With a theme park, Dinosaur and Farm Park, SplashZone water play factory, restaurants, shops, shows and more there's lots for families to see and do here at our Milton Keynes resort.”

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Funding boost for first Tour de France festival

AA inspector Andrew Ford with the Best Western Plus Castle Green team and managing director Tim Rumney.

THE first ever Arts and Cultural Festival to accompany the start of the Tour de France has moved a step closer after Arts Council England awarded £1m of funding towards the project. Starting at the end of March, the festival will showcase Yorkshire as a creative county in the 100 days before the start of the Tour de France 2014. It will include keynote commissions to animate the Grand Depart and the route of the Tour de France through Yorkshire. The initiative, the first of its kind in the 110-year history of the event, now hopes to secure a further £1m of match funding to help deliver the project.

Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity said: “We are delighted to have secured funding to deliver an ambitious programme of events to celebrate the arrival of the Tour de France in Yorkshire. “It will be a fantastic opportunity for the whole county to share in the excitement and interest that will be building in the run-up to the 2014 Tour de France, helping to put Yorkshire on the map for millions of people months before the riders arrive.” An appeal is now being made for ideas and events which could be part of the festival. The public can register their suggestions at http://letour.yorkshire.com/artsfestival

AA awards Castle Green Hotel a four-star rating Luxury break up for grabs THE independently owned Best Western Plus Castle Green Hotel in Kendal has achieved four-star rating from the AA. The 99-bedroom hotel, located a mile from Kendal town centre in 14 acres of landscaped gardens, attained a four-star rating with a merit score of 77 per cent in its AA

inspection and retained its two AA Rosette Award for The Greenhouse Restaurant. The hotel has undertaken a programme of refurbishment over the last two years to refresh bedrooms and meeting spaces, and includes a new reception area this year, raising its facilities to the four-star level.

POOLE Tourism has launched a new summer competition to win a luxury weekend break for two. Running until the end of August, the competition is open to anyone who “likes” the Poole Tourism Facebook page.

The winner will receive a weekend for two with bed and breakfast at Hotel du Vin, a £40 voucher for an evening meal at Banana Wharf and a chance for the individual winner to enjoy a new Aqua Jetpack experience.

VisitEngland aims to boost tourism during world cup By Christina Eccles

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ENGLAND Rugby has announced the venues which will host matches during the Rugby World Cup 2015, with VisitEngland re-enforcing its commitment to maximising the event’s potential tourism benefit. Host venues will include Twickenham Stadium, Wembley Stadium and the Olympic Stadium in London,the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Elland Road in Leeds and Manchester City Stadium, with the tourist board working closely with host destination management organisations, venues and local authorities to support them in delivering the best possible experience for all visitors, including spectators, media and teams. Committed to ensuring that the tourism opportunities are fully exploited, VisitEngland’s strategy will aim to encourage visitors to stay longer, explore the country far and wide and spend more during their visit. Visit England’s chief executive James Berresford said: “Sport in this country is an incredibly powerful sales tool that has the power to attract millions of international visitors, and acts as an important catalyst to stimulate domestic visits from our vast home-grown fan-base. “We are proud to see Rugby World

Cup 2015 hosted in England and this provides the industry with a tremendous opportunity to grow tourism throughout the country, and deliver on the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.” The tournament will be spread over a 44-day period, between September 18 and October 31, 2015 meaning visitors will have the luxury of time to explore the country at a time when the industry traditionally most needs visitors. With confirmed teams from major international markets including Australia, Italy, Ireland and France, the event will also provide an opportunity to raise awareness of England in these key markets. CEO England Rugby 2015 Debbie Jevans added: “The world can now start planning for Rugby World Cup 2015 as we confirm the match venues and the full match schedule. “In less than two-and-a-half years’ time, we will be welcoming the world to England and to a celebration of Rugby, played in a range of atmospheric stadiums right across the country. We are pleased to be working so closely with the national tourist board, VisitEngland, to ensure that the tourism industry will utilise the unique opportunities that a sporting competition of this calibre brings to the host nation.”

Fallbarrow, Limefitt and White Cross Bay have been recognised.

Parks rewarded with excellence certificate THREE Lake District holiday parks have been recognised for their achievements by global accommodation review website Tripadvisor. Fallbarrow, Limefitt and White Cross Bay parks – all based in and around the Windermere area – have received a 2013 Certificate of Excellence Award, given to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on the site. Only the top performing 10 per cent of businesses listed on Tripadvisor worldwide receive the award for maintaining a minimum of four-star reviews or higher, combined with a large volume of excellent reviews.

All three Lake District parks are owned by South Lakeland Parks, the North West’s largest holiday park operator. Managing director Nigel Wimpenny said: “The Tripadvisor Certificates of Excellence are especially important to us as they represent the views of the people who matter most – our customers. “For all three of our Lake District parks to have been consistently rated as excellent by people who have visited is indeed music to our ears. “Tripadvisor is the world’s most effective form of word of mouth and the reality is that so many millions of people do value what is said on the site.”


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Discover a Christmas wonderland with the National Trust with groups being able to meet costumed characters, enjoy Christmas carols, stories and some shopping. Group admission for Speke Hall, Garden and Estate: £7pp. Call 0151 427 7231 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/speke-hall Group admission for Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate: £12.25pp. Mill and garden or Apprentice House only £10.15pp. Call 01625 445845 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/quarrybank-mill For a spot of Christmas indulgence, visit Attingham Park in Shropshire between the 29 November – 1 December, and pick up some stocking fillers from over 100 stalls or sit down and try some mouth-watering food and drink. Group admission for Attingham Park: £8.40pp. Park, garden and playfield only £3.85pp. Call 01743 708170 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/attingham-park For more information about inspiring days out in the UK call 0844 800 2329*, or email traveltrade@nationaltrust.org.uk. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/groups to find out more. Christmas crafts © National Trust Images Paul Harris Treat your group to an extra special festive season with the National Trust. Winter can bring out the best in gardens with bright foliage and spectacular landscapes enhanced by frost and snow. Kickstart the season by roaming around the UK’s largest winter garden at Dunham Massey in Cheshire, which will be open daily (excluding Christmas Day). With seven acres of stunning winter colour, your group can get some great ideas for creating their own winter garden. Group admission: £9.75pp. Garden only £6.80pp. Call 0161 941 1025 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunham-massey Travel back in time and discover Christmas across the ages. Head to Speke Hall in Liverpool over the weekends of the 30 November - 1 December and 7-8 December and your group will be able to see the house dressed in traditional Victorian decorations, with activities and Father Christmas adding to the enjoyment. At Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire, there will also be Victorian celebrations underway on the 7-8 and 14-15 December,

Child meeting Father Christmas at Speke Hall, Liverpool. © National Trust Images Arnhel de Serra *0844 numbers are charged at 5p per minute from BT landlines, charges from mobiles and other operators may vary.


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DESTINATIONNEWS

Visa processing reforms would attract Chinese tourism market

Duncan Bannatyne

Dragon’s Den star buys new Lake District lodge DRAGON’S Den star Duncan Bannatyne is backing British tourism by investing in a new luxury holiday lodge in the Lake District. The lodge is on the new Lakeside development at Fallbarrow Park on the shores of Lake Windermere in the popular tourist town of Bowness on Windermere. He plans to use it every other weekend with his family and every second week of the school holidays. He said: “I brought my youngest, Tom to Fallbarrow last year for the first time and we were hiring lodges. So this year I gave him the choice of

buying a lodge at Fallbarrow or a villa in the South of France and he chose Fallbarrow. “If you’ve got a holiday home in France, you can’t really leave school on a Friday night and come back on a Sunday so he loves the fact that he can come here every weekend. “I don’t really miss not going abroad at the moment because I’m really enjoying holidaying in Britain. No airports, no hassle, no queuing, no money to exchange. With a British holiday home, you can jump in the car for just over an hour and enjoy yourself.”

City urges Brits to ‘do something different’ MARKETING Manchester, VisitEngland and Cityco have joined forces with 19 businesses to try and increase the number of domestic visitors to the city this summer. The Do Something Different campaign aims to attract Brits who are more inclined to holiday at home but might not have traditionally considered Manchester. Partners include the new SEALIFE Manchester, Manchester Arndale, Great Northern, Bali Health Lounge, The Palace Theatre, IWM North, System One Travel and First Group. Chester Zoo, Tatton Park and The Mere Golf Resort and Spa are also contributing to the campaign – further strengthening the city’s position as a base from which to explore the rest of the North West.

Chief executive of Marketing Manchester Andrew Stokes said: “We’ve seen a massive change in the perception of domestic tourism in recent years. First, the recession made it a necessity – and then, the ‘2012 factor’ has made it cool. “VisitEngland’s high-profile ‘Holidays at home are GREAT’ campaign gave a real boost to the industry and we are delighted to be working with them and other organisations across the city-region to showcase what Manchester has to offer. Manchester attracts over one million international visitors a year – some of which travel from the other side of the planet. If we can draw people from that distance, we can surely do so too from here in the UK.”

By Christina Eccles THE UK China Visa Alliance has held its first Welcome China event, where the group stressed the need for reforms to Chinese Visa Processing to help the UK attract a greater share of the Chinese tourism market. The UKCVA, which represents over 950 British retail and tourism businesses, welcomed immigration minister Mark Harper to the event and also presented key findings from its report The UK Brand of Opportunity: The economic case for attracting more mainland Chinese visitors. Key findings include:  Currently the UK captures only 1.3 per cent of the total global Chinese visitor spend, demonstrating the huge potential for growth.  The UKCVA believes if Britain performed as well as France in attracting Chinese visitors, it would earn an additional £1.2b annually and create a further 24,000 jobs.  Volume of Chinese outbound travellers grew by 15 per cent to 66m in 2012.  In 2011, 1m Schengen visas – enabling the traveller to visit 26 European countries, but not the UK – were issued to Chinese outbound tourists, compared with 205,000 UK visas.  The effect of high tax on luxury goods in China resulted in Chinese visitors’ spend rising by 35 per cent year on year in 2012. Current UK spend on average is £700 per transaction, with 82 per cent citing shopping as a vital part of their trip. The UKCVA has been looking at

practical ways of achieving significant improvements in Chinese visitor numbers to the UK, including enabling Schengen and UK visas to be applied for at a single drop off point. This would reduce the inconvenience for tour operators, the high net worth and business traveller or those visiting family and friends who currently have to attend separate visa data processing centres. A single drop-off point would also incentivise Chinese visitors to include the UK in their European itineraries. Other ideas discussed included partnering with some of China’s influential tour operators by providing them with a visa service package. Mark Henderson, who chaired the UKCVA event said: “The very fact that the Minister came to talk to businesses today demonstrates the importance the Government is placing on finding practical solutions on issues surrounding UK Chinese visas. What is needed now is for the Government to make significant strides, as marginal improvements will have only marginal impact. We need to find ways of enabling Chinese visitors and their tour operators to apply for both visas in one go, while maintaining separate processing. “If the Government's proposals for tour operators work then they will be very welcome. However, we also need to address those high net worth visitors who don't use tours or the premium visa service.”

Free online guide launched VISITENGLAND has launched a free online guide to help tourism businesses market their accessibility to disabled travellers. Speak Up! includes information, advice and examples of best practice, all aimed at helping business owners attract more of this visitor market, which is worth over £2b. Head of business support Ross Calladine said: “There is a multitude of promotional channels 8

available for businesses to reach the valuable accessible tourism market. Speak Up! aims to make sense of these, helping tourism businesses to effectively communicate with disabled people – who spend over £2b a year on overnight trips in England.” The Speak Up! guide can be downloaded at www.visitengland.org/access under Information Provision and Promotion.

Echo Arena Liverpool has welcomed its three millionth customer. Singing sensation Alicia Keys marked the occasion by presenting Emma Haigh with a Golden Ticket, entitling her to two tickets to 10 events of her choice over the next 12 months.


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Dirty Dancing returns to the West End SMASH hit musical Dirty Dancing – the classic story on stage – returns to the West End on 13 July after a successful tour of the UK and Ireland. Fans of the movie can now relive the magic and the romance of Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman and Johnny Castle. Already seen by millions across the globe, Dirty Dancing tells the classic story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds, who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives. The story is told by a tremendous cast of 27 and featuring 35 hit songs, including ‘Hungry Eyes’, ‘Hey Baby’, ‘Do You Love Me?’ and the heart stopping ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.’ Dirty Dancing first played the West End in 2006 at the Aldwych Theatre where it broke box office records and became the fastest ever selling show in West End history when it opened with advance ticket sales of

over £15million. It has now returned to the Piccadilly Theatre and is currently booking until 22 February 2014 for a strictly limited season. Set in the New York Catskill Mountains resort in the summer of 1963, Dirty Dancing London follows the story of ‘Baby’, a 17-year-old girl on holiday with her family and bored to death. That is until she stumbles across Johnny Castle, the resort’s hunky and rebellious dance instructor. Their two worlds collide with an electrifying relationship which blossoms both on and off the dance floor. With beautiful choreography and stunning performances Dirty Dancing, London is a must see for all lovers of the original blockbuster film. Superbreak has a range of packages on sale with prices from £93 per person including a top priced ticket to the show and one night at the Bayswater Inn Hotel. For more information on Superbreak visit www.superbreak.com/agents

News from around the theatres By David Thomas

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WELCOME to the first edition of the Destination UK West End Chronicle. Our aim, our mission, is to provide you with a regular snapshot of what’s happening in London’s West End – and what is coming over the horizon. The show on everyone’s lips at the moment is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on June 25. Adapted from Roald Dahl’s classic tale, and directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes, this stunning production catapults you into a realm of the senses where colour and sound (and flavours) engulf your imagination. 2013 is shaping up into a year of great change in the theatre capital of the world. One legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was that no new big shows opened in London for almost a year – and now four come along at once! In addition to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the

phenomenal Dirty Dancing returns in July, with The Commitments and From Here To Eternity waiting in the wings. Meanwhile Derren Brown’s “Infamous” replaces Singin’ In The Rain for a limited run at The Palace Theatre, A Chorus Line closes in August and Top Hat bows out in October. On the play front, Kim Cattrall has flown into the Old Vic for Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth to great critical acclaim. Noel Coward’s Private Lives opens this month starring Anna Chancellor and Toby Stephens, and for laugh-out-loud comedy perfection catch The Ladykillers at the Vaudeville. But here’s the really great thing about the West End – its diversity. At the Duchess Theatre, directly across the road from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Lenny Henry is truly outstanding in August Wilson’s powerful and thought-provoking Fences, whilst on the next corner, at the Fortune Theatre, The Woman In Black is celebrating 25 years as the

scariest play in the West End, and Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the film of The Woman In Black is simply spell-binding in The Cripple of Inishmaan down the road at The Noel Coward Theatre. Historically, The Woman In Black benefited hugely from its location opposite the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Way back in 1989 the show changed its start time to 8pm to make the most of the hundreds of theatregoers being turned away from the returns queue at Miss Saigon, which started at 7.45pm. Miss Saigon ran a record-breaking 10 years at Drury Lane, and now, in the last fortnight, Cameron Mackintosh has announced that Miss Saigon is coming back – opening at The Prince Edward Theatre in May 2014. I am sure there may have been more exciting times in the West End… but I can’t remember any. Enjoy your shows!  David Thomas is head of theatre and events at Superbreak.

David Thomas


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Annual Kids’ Week tickets available TICKETS are now on sale for Kids’ Week 2013, with more than 30 shows offering free tickets and activities for children and families throughout August. Now in its 16th year and run by the Society of London Theatre, Kids’ Week is all about encouraging young people to experience the magic of live theatre. During Kids’ Week, a child aged 16 or under can go free to participating shows when accompanied by an adult paying full price. Up to two extra children’s tickets may also be purchased at half price.

SOLT president Mark Rubinstein said: “Starting as just a week and now spanning a month, Kids’ Week has firmly established itself as a key date in the West End’s calendar. “We’re looking forward to throwing open our doors and welcoming young audiences to what, for many, will be their first taste of a West End show. “With free events and activities alongside the tremendous range of plays, musicals, and dance shows on offer, it is fantastic to see that Kids’ Week is back and bigger than ever.”

Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton and ITV’s Superstar runner-up Rory Taylor will lead the cast of the forthcoming UK tour of Rent. The show last toured the UK in April this year, performing 10 dates to rave reviews. Now, due to public demand, the show is back for its final run. Rent – 20th Anniversary Concert will be playing 15 national dates this Autumn including Blackpool, Nottingham, Oxford, Edinburgh, Dublin and Newcastle before closing in Liverpool on November 30.

Judges Rylan and Lisa Riley.

Picture: Stephen Smith.

West End event pays tribute to Eurovision The cast of Jersey Boys on stage at West End LIVE.

Crowds flock to Trafalgar Square for spectacular

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OVER half-a-million people flocked to Trafalgar Square for this year’s West End LIVE, where over 30 shows took to the stage for special free performances. Now in its ninth year, the festival is the largest event of its kind in the UK, with shows taking part including Billy Elliot The Musical, Jersey Boys, Disney’s the Lion King and Mamma Mia! Other highlights included a world exclusive performance of Tim Rice’s new musical From Here to Eternity and an appearance from Glee and Broadway star Matthew Morrison who signed copies of his new album. The event is organised by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre, in association with Mastercard. Deputy leader of Westminster City Council Coun Robert Davis said:

“This was the largest West End LIVE we have ever produced – with more shows taking part than ever before. “From humble beginnings in Leicester Square nine years ago, our event now attracts hundreds of thousands of people from across London, the rest of the UK and from around the globe. It was a fantastic weekend and we hope everyone will come back next time for our 10th anniversary year.” Chief executive of the Society of London Theatre Julian Bird added: “Theatre is one of the capital’s greatest draws with an international reputation for offering world-class entertainment, and West End LIVE is a great opportunity to showcase the quality and range of productions the London stage has to offer as well as putting on a great free event for the public to enjoy.”

THIS year’s HBAA chairman’s charity – the Make A Difference Trust – has hosted its first fundraising event of 2013, the sixth annual West End Eurovision contest at the Dominion Theatre. The late-night show commenced at 11.30pm, once the curtain closed on the stages of London’s West End, and paid tribute to the Eurovision Song Contest. 10 West End shows including Phantom of the Opera, Rock of Ages, We Will Rock You and Mamma Mia were pitched against each other, singing past Eurovision songs to win votes. New Irish musical Once won the coveted trophy with their adaptation of Dana's All Kinds of Everything.

2013’s contest was judged by a star-studded panel which featured X Factor’s Rylan, Lisa Riley of Emmerdale and Strictly Come Dancing, astrologer to the stars Russell Grant and I’d do Anything winner Jodie Prenger. Gok Wan, Sinitta, Ben Richards and Christopher Biggins were guest presenters, which included performances by former Eurovision winners Katrina and the Waves. Chairman of the HBAA Chris Parnham said: “The MAD Trust is a terrific charity, and the event was a huge success. HBAA members treated some of their partners and clients to a truly unique evening – 10 West End shows in one exclusive event.”

Willemijn to join Wicked cast AWARD-winning Dutch star Willemijn Verkaik is joining the cast of West End hit Wicked as Elphaba, in performances from November 18. The star has previously played the role in more than 1,000 performances in Holland, Germany and most recently on Broadway. She is the only actress to perform the role in more than one language

in the musical’s decade-long history. UK executive producer Michael McCabe said: “Since its Broadway debut 10 years ago, Wicked has become a truly global phenomenon and nobody personifies the show’s international appeal more than Willemijn, who has performed the role of Elphaba in three languages in three different countries.


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The Gong Farmer

A stinkingly good offer ODIOUS odours were a horrible part of everyday life in times gone by and between July 27 and September 1, The York Dungeon will take visitors on a smelly step back in time. Come and meet the Gong Farmer who will be wafting smells under guests’ noses and enlightening 2,000 years of York’s putrid past. Beware of five super smell zones around the attraction which include

the burning smells of Clifford’s Tower, the famous aromas of the York Shambles and the vile stench of the Vikings. With a full cast of brilliant actors, 11 shows, rich sets and special effects, The York Dungeon is a 70minute journey through 2,000 years of York’s murky past. Groups of 10 plus gain 50 per cent off bookings for visits up to September 8.

Online picnic guide launched VISIT York has developed an online guide to illustrate where in the city visitors and residents can enjoy a picnic. The guide features both indoor and outdoor sites, including a medieval graveyard, the city’s medieval walls, the National Railway Museum and the chance to picnic 200ft in the air, overlooking the city on the York Wheel. Chief executive of Visit York Gillian Cruddas said: “While traditionally

enjoyed in the countryside, our new urban picnic guide offers visitors a choice of venues to picnic right in the heart of – and even high above – our historic cityscape. Research shows that in the UK, one in five people worry about the weather ruining their planned picnic, so the guide also includes wet weather options for fair weather picnickers.” Picnickers are also being asked to share their favourite urban picnic spots via Facebook and Twitter.

Kissing couples are flocking to a historic landmark in York which, according to tourism chiefs, is fast becoming Britain’s answer to The Blarney Stone. The Heart of Yorkshire window, one of the most famous stained glass windows in Europe, sits in the Great West Window of York Minster. Now the distinctive heart shape of the window is becoming a destination in its own right, as love-struck couples put faith in local legend that kissing your partner beneath the window means you’ll stay together forever.

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Successful first year for chocolate attraction YORK’S Chocolate Story has celebrated a successful first year in business, with highlights including achieving its busiest ever period over the Easter holidays. The attraction has also been accredited by Visit England in its Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme, which recognises businesses which deliver an exceptional customer experience. Operations manager Jenny Tutty said: “This is a fantastic start to the season as we move ahead with our

new offer, which includes a handson chocolate lolly-making station which has gone down a storm with visitors. Tours were regularly sold out during the Easter holidays, as we shared stories of York’s confectionery heritage with people from near and far. “The VAQAS accreditation recognises the amazing work of our friendly team, who always go above and beyond the call of duty to provide the best experience possible to our visitors.”

Bosses use social media to mark day Offering a designer day out JUST minutes outside historic York in a beautiful landscaped garden setting, McArthurGlen’s York Designer Outlet is a must visit shopping destination. Home to over 120 leading designer and high street brands including LK Bennett, Reiss, The Kooples, Jaeger and Ted Baker all at up to 60 per cent less. A contemporary food quarter

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including Pizza Express and Pret a Manger offers the perfect setting for a quick coffee or relaxed lunch. Group bookings are eligible for a special 10 per cent discount card for selected stores that day, so you can save even more. Refreshment vouchers are also available for coach drivers and passengers, with special offers on food and drink.

TOURISM bosses in York celebrated International Museum Day by using social media to highlight the city’s cultural offering. To mark the occasion, images from many historic and unusual artefacts which can be found in York were posted online via Facebook, with virtual visitors encouraged to comment and share their own images related to the city’s past.

Head of communications at Visit York, Kay Hyde, said: “York has more museums and attractions than any other city of its size. They record the history and stories of Vikings to Victorians and Richard III to railways. “By creating a ‘virtual museum’ to mark International Museum Day we can give visitors a flavour of the rare exhibits on show in the city.”


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The 2013 Visit York Tourism Awards winners with their prizes.

Tourism award winners announced THE winners of the 2013 Visit York Tourism Awards have been announced at a ceremony at York Racecourse. Thirteen businesses took to the podium at the annual awards, with winners on the night including artistic director at York Theatre Royal, Damian Cruden, who was awarded the prestigious York Tourism Ambassador title. Chairman of Visit York Jane Lady Gibson said: “All of the winners go above and beyond to keep York one of Britain’s most successful city break destinations. “I’m delighted too, to see Damian’s work receive a special accolade. He believes in the power of storytelling and by bringing York and its stories to life, he has helped put York on an international stage.” Other 2013 award winners: Guest Accommodation of the Year, sponsored by F R Fowler and Son: Winner: Bishops Finalists: The Bloomsbury Carlton House Warrens Self Catering/Caravan Park of the Year, sponsored by Fulprint: Winner: Robin Hood Caravan Park Highly Commended: Apartments 5, 6 and 12 Monkbridge Court

Finalists: Jollydays Luxury Camping The Riverside York The York Hop Store

Hotel of the Year, sponsored by Streamline Taxis: Winner: Middlethorpe Hall and Spa Finalists: Cedar Court Grand Hotel and Spa Dean Court Hotel Novotel York Royal York Hotel and Event Centre York Marriott Hotel Restaurant of the Year, sponsored by Morrell Middleton: Winner: The Oak Room at Middlethorpe Hall and Spa Finalists: El Piano The Grill Room at Cedar Court Grand Hotel and Spa Mumbai Lounge The Royal Oak Café/Tearoom of the Year, sponsored by Minster FM: Winner: York Cocoa House Finalists: Café Harlequin Filmore and Union Spring Espresso Visitor Experience of the Year, sponsored by P&O Ferries: Winner: York Mystery Plays 2012 Finalists:

JORVIK Viking Festival York Maze Halloween/Hallowscream York Minster /The Orb York Racecourse – Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival 2012

Visitor Attraction of the Year, sponsored by the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership: Winner: Beningbrough Hall and Gardens Finalists: JORVIK National Railway Museum York Castle Museum York Maze Shopping Experience of the Year, sponsored by Big Local App: Winner: Hotel Chocolat York Finalists: Jack Wolfskin York Now and Then Events – York Does Vintage Pandora York York Cocoa House Marketing Campaign of the Year, sponsored by Leeds Bradford International Airport: Winner: Unlocking the Frankel Factor – York Racecourse Finalists: Now and Then Events - York Does Vintage Umbrella Sky at Clifford’s Tower York Cultural Company – York

Mystery Plays 2012 York Maze 2012 and Halloween Events

Conference Venue of the Year, sponsored by Saville Audio Visual: Winner: National Railway Museum Finalists: Merchant Taylors Hall Royal York Hotel and Event Centre York Conferences York Racecourse Hospitality Outstanding Customer Service Award, sponsored by Webmart: Winner: Alexandra Claydon and Samantha de la Tour, Now and Then Events Finalists: Guy Wallis – The Golden Fleece Amanda Fogg – Hedley House Hotel Shirley Fletcher – Hilton York Rebecca and Damian PalmerBunting – Robin Hood Caravan Park Pub/Bar of the Year – The People’s Choice Award – Sponsored by Deans Computer Services: Winner: The Golden Fleece Finalists: The Ackhorne Evil Eye Lounge The House of the Trembling Madness The Maltings

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Theatre announces relaxed Peter Pan performance By Christina Eccles

Special group prices for Wendy and Peter Pan FIONA Button and Sam Swann will play Wendy and Peter Pan in Ella Hickson’s new version of JM Barrie’s much loved classic tale. Wendy and Peter Pan is directed by Jonathan Munby and runs in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from December 10 2013 to March 2 2014. Guy Henry returns to the RSC after 10 years to play Peter’s nemesis Captain Hook. Guy, who has been appearing regularly as surgeon Henrik Hanssen in TV’s Holby City, last performed at the RSC as Parolles in Gregory Doran’s 2003 production of All’s Well that Ends Well. Charlotte Mills also returns to the RSC in the role of the fairy Tink, having previously appeared in The Winter’s Tale (Stratford-upon-Avon

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and tour). Andrew Woodall makes his RSC debut as Mr Darling and the Darling children will be played by Brodie Ross as Michael, Colin Ryan as Tom and Jolyon Coy as John. Adult groups of eight or more can enjoy reduced price tickets: £5 off per ticket (non RSC group members) or £7 off (RSC group members) for Superseats and top price seats, plus one half price ticket for group organiser. Applies Monday to Friday performances only, and not available December 23 2013 – January 3 2014. Groups can enhance their visit with a range of other activities including theatre tours, the chance to explore the Theatre Tower and exhibitions and dining in the Rooftop Restaurant.

FOLLOWING on from the success of last year's Ambassador Theatre Group’s relaxed performance pilot scheme, Richmond Theatre has made plans for another relaxed performance in their 2013/2014 pantomime season. The Monday January 6 7pm performance of Peter Pan, starring Hollywood legend Henry Winkler, will be specially adapted for anyone with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, sensory and communication disorders, a learning disability or for anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment. General manager of Richmond Theatre Kate Wrightson said: "In continuing to offer these Relaxed Performances as part of Richmond Theatre's Access programme, alongside our existing audio described, BSL interpreted and captioned performances, we're committing to our aim to make theatre accessible for everyone. “Seeing how much of a difference it made to the families and school groups who attended last year just confirmed in our minds that these

Henry Winkler as Captain Hook. performances should become a regular feature of our annual pantomime and core programme.” The scheme is supported by the Society of London Theatre and the Theatrical Management Association.


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Exciting daily events will be held at Kensington Palace.

Festive capers at the Palace KENSINGTON Palace has announced details of its offering for the 2013/14 festive season. From December 1 to January 6, visitors can enter a palace-sized advent calendar and join in with an

exciting programme of daily events. At the palace, it’s Christmas 1699 and William III is celebrating in the King’s State Apartments. Discover the story of the Queen of the Bean, music Mondays and many more.

Groups of 20 or more can take advantage of special ticket discounts at the Ironbridge Gorge Museums in Shropshire over the winter months. All standard group admission tickets will be half price from November 1 2013 until March 31 2014, allowing visitors to receive discounted admission to attractions such as Blists Hill Victorian Town.

The 18-day event is the biggest in the South West.

Market dates revealed ORGANISERS of Bath Christmas Market, Bath Tourism Plus, are pleased to announce the dates for this year’s event as November 28 – December 15 2013. The 18-day event is the biggest Christmas shopping event in the South West region which consists of more than 150 beautifully decorated wooden chalets, each selling a variety of high-quality products such as Christmas decorations, gifts, toys, clothes, household and festive food. Bath Christmas Market has a wonderful romantic atmosphere, with more rotating entertainment spots this year, helping to build the anticipation of the celebrations to come. Set in the picturesque streets and squares surrounding Bath Abbey

and the Roman Baths, there couldn’t be a more perfect setting for a Christmas market in the UK. The market received further endorsement last year as Bath Tourism Plus were delighted to receive the Quality Rose Marque from National Tourist Board VisitEngland under the Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme. Bath is the only Christmas Market in the country to receive such an accolade. Located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage city, the Christmas market is perfect for visitors to enjoy all that the city has to offer – a wonderful mix of high street and designer shops, fascinating attractions and warm, inviting cafes and bars.

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DESTINATIONNEWS

City’s arena set to open LEEDS is a city that is riding the wave of new investment and fast-moving development. In a year that has already seen the unveiling of the £350m Trinity shopping complex, the city is gearing up to show off its next big attraction. Set in its city centre, the all-new First Direct Arena aims to bring in world class artists to the flourishing northern city. The venue fills a need, too. Leeds has been the largest city in the United Kingdom without a major venue to hold music or indoor sporting events, but that is about to change. The £60m, 13,000 capacity arena has taken two years to build and is

By Christina Eccles Leeds’ First Direct Arena. all set for Bruce Springsteen to open the venue on July 24 – another major coup for the city as he has not played an indoor gig in six years.

Groups show is on target ORGANISERS report that this year’s Group Leisure and Travel Trade Show, taking place at Birmingham’s NEC on September 18 and 19, is receiving a very positive reaction from both exhibitors and the visitors. Show organiser of Britain’s biggest event in group travel Emma Cash said that the visitor campaign is now getting underway and that visitor pre-registrations are already well up compared to the same period in 2012. She said: “Pre-registering for the GLTT is a great option for visitors. “It means they can claim free parking at the NEC and get fasttrack free entry into the show. In

Plea to provide family-friendly information

addition we are giving away a fantastic holiday to Budapest sponsored by Jet2.holidays in an exclusive prize draw for preregistered visitors who attend the exhibition. We will also be announcing free coach travel from a range of locations soon, which is always popular.” Visitors arriving before 11am can start the day with a free bacon butty and the show will have a massive range of exhibitors who are coming together to offer both new and established ideas plus destinations in the UK and overseas suitable for group travel organisers, coach operators and the wider travel trade.

TWO thirds of families in Britain are dissatisfied with the information available to them when choosing family holidays, according to a new report from specialist research and marketing consultancy MumPanel. Out of the 3,000 parents who took part in the research, more than 2,000 said information provided on holiday websites, brochures and in store was inadequate and did not provide enough detail to make informed decisions. The report asked what information or improvements they would like see, with respondents saying they would like holiday companies to do more when it came to supplying essential information about the suitability of holidays for their families and children – including listing basics such as the depth of swimming pools, availability of sunshades, sleeping arrangements in family rooms, and age suitability of kids’ clubs. Parents also asked the industry to consider more family-friendly

services like family-only flights and train carriages. Managing director of MumPanel Lynne Barcoe said: “Parents are time poor and don’t want to be undertaking lengthy investigations into the suitability of every possible holiday. “Providing detailed family-friendly information will become even more important as family budgets are squeezed and parents get increasingly selective about where and how they spend their money. “Just over half of respondents in our research told us that they plan cut backs on travel and holidays this year. “We expect to see that number grow next year because of the amendment to the school attendance regulations by the Department for Education. “More parents will be restricted to taking their children away during the designated school holidays when prices are much higher. Removing any unnecessary barriers to purchasing for parents will make a difference.”

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• Fully licensed bar & catering facilities • Outside balcony and seating area • Tyke sprint & grand prix racing • High powered electric karts • All weather outdoor track For enquiries contact us on:

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DESTINATIONTOURISM SOCIETY

Society conference DCMS decides – held in Cardiff but there is more to this than money OVER 100 delegates from across Europe attended the 2013 Tourism Society Conference in Cardiff last week. An international line-up of speakers addressed topics including the current state of the visitor economy in the UK, how VisitBritain is planning to reach its international audiences and how Lithuania, a relatively ‘new’ destination in tourism promotion terms has increased its visitor numbers dramatically in recent years. The importance of film and television programmes such as ‘Meet the Midwife’ to the Historic Dockyard Chatham was the subject of an on-stage conversation between its CEO, Bill Ferris OBE, and Tourism Society Chairman David Curtis-Brignell. Regeneration of existing assets was discussed from the planning perspective, the changes that have taken place in visitor experience at The National Trust and the pathway to successful branding and repositioning, highlighted by a speaker from M&C Saatchi. Caroline Cooper took the audience through five essential tips for SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and marketing was also the focus of a presentation by Alex Mawer from VisitEngland which described recent campaigns and how the current

By Ken Robinson CBE FTS

David Curtis-Brignell trade campaign featuring Wallace and Gromit was made. Inspiration and staff motivation were covered by Liz Phillips of Mitchells and Butlers and Dr Roger Carter, in addition to presentations from the first winners of the Tourism Society Wales Professional Development Award – Punch Maughan and Carl Cater – who described the work they have been able to do in Wales as a result of their win. The range of subjects proved a winning combination for the delegates, who enjoyed excellent opportunities for networking in Cardiff’s impressive City Hall.

New Markets – New Policies Tuesday July 16th 2013 Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP 6pm-8.30pm Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism of South Africa, and Christopher Rodrigues CBE, Chairman of VisitBritain, will be on the panel for an interactive discussion evening moderated by Professor Geoffrey Lipman FTS, Director of greenearth.travel. Following introductory remarks by Van Schalkwyk (Bridging the Policy Silos) and Rodrigues (Attracting Tomorrow’s Customers), the audience of invited industry, government, media and NGOs will participate in a lively exchange. Book your place today at bit.ly/YUuK5V to join the discussion. The speakers are noted for their thoughtful and forthright views on Travel and Tourism’s place in a hyper-dynamic, hyper-connected, hyper-sensitive world – expect an interesting evening!

Christopher Rodrigues CBE

Marthinus van Schalkwyk

Geoffrey Lipman

Book directly through our website at www.tourismsociety.org or call 0207 269 9693.

WHAT should we make of Visit Britain's 5% funding cut and Visit England's standstill budget for 201314, following the Government's recent Comprehensive Spending Review? With major spending departments ring-fenced, yet seeking 11 per cent cuts overall, there were fears for the DCMS total, so they did well to settle on a cut of seven per cent, but how would they allocate funds among their sponsored bodies: Sports, Arts, Heritage, Media etc.? Tourism has come off worst in recent CSRs, as DCMS seemed to believe there was little role for Government – cutting international budgets was “sensible”, and in England, the DMOs would surely blossom anyway, so VB and VE have both lost two thirds of their funding in little more than a decade. Hugh Robertson, having been handed the Ministerial baton for Tourism after a successful stint spending billions on the Olympics, must feel the limitations of present budgets, especially given his recently reaffirmed commitment to deliver the Penrose Policy. Previously the Treasury has failed to acknowledge that Tourism justifies public investment, so it was a surprise to hear Maria Miller say in recent speeches that there was no need for special pleading by DCMS in the CSR process “as the Government recognises the Arts, Museums and the Heritage have an important economic role” and that they underpin Tourism “which has an important and growing role in our economy”. Also, DCMS and Treasury undoubtedly hear the pleas for cutting APD, and tourism-sector VAT, but believe they cannot afford to. So we are undeniably uncompetitive. But are they finally seeing that tourism can make an exceptional contribution to recovery and growth? Within the seven per cent norm, DCMS's early announcements did not bode well for Tourism, with five per cent cuts for the Arts, Museums and the Heritage. Also, Government says reduced VB and VE budgets have been compensated in the last two years by the GREAT imagebuilding campaign overseas and the TV campaigns at home. But it is core funding that is essential to build competence. Less money, less people, less punch. Inadequate operational budgets, inadequate results. Lost revenue, lost jobs. VisitBritain has a tough task in the post-devolution world. Its tenacity, creativity and adaptability are exemplary. Its resources are overstretched. Government may think that VB’s job is being done by the GREAT campaign, but the media decisions are political and being

Ken Robinson CBE taken in the Cabinet office, not by VB. British Tourism needs a more effective VisitBritain. VB’s key partners Visit Scotland, Visit Wales, VisitEngland and London are good at doing their own thing but at times they are like footballers: their individual performances score goals, but greater success needs teamwork. With five per cent less, VB will survive for now. It is an endorsement from Government, and an achievement by Christopher Rodrigues, Sandie Dawe and her colleagues, that the swingeing cuts of recent years were averted. So why did Visit England achieve a standstill budget? Consider the context. Under this CSR, Local Authority budgets will fall even further, causing their greater withdrawal from non-statutory tourism activity. The Penrose Policy depends on DMOs delivering throughout England; yet few are secure, major players, some others are good, many are getting better, but most face continuous and worsening financial pressures. Colour in a map of England with DMO footprints and most areas will still be white. Yet VisitEngland has no authority, only the ability to influence. What it does have is a “crackingly good team” as Wallace would say. Penny Cobham and James Berresford have been in continuous touch with the Minister, and maybe he has realised that England's tourism cannot be optimised until we have a good, functioning network. Also, with the newly created £2billion ‘single pot’ of funding that will be disbursed through the LEPs, Government needs a tourismknowledgeable, public source of guidance, and monitoring, and a hub for the industry, which VE can provide. So the CSR verdict is not ideal, but it could have been worse. Thank you Minister, thank you Secretary of State. Believe in tourism's potential. The Nation needs growth, we can drive it.  Ken Robinson is chair of the Tourism Society Think Tank.


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Destination uk july:august 2013