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Issue 35 July/August 2010 £2.75

‘Take our industry seriously’ By Christina Eccles THE new government should take tourism more seriously and recognise the benefits which the industry brings to the UK, it has been claimed. Chief executive of the British Hospitality Association Bob Cotton said that in the past, tourism and hospitality has not been given the support it deserves and has been overlooked by previous government. He said in the last year, very little had been done by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to address four key issues of concern to the industry: not adding to the burden of regulation, not to increase the industry's costs, to encourage investment and to promote tourism. Bob is now calling on the new coalition government to give tourism greater recognition and make sure that when considering policies in other areas, it looks at how they could affect the tourism industry before enforcing them. He said: “In the past we have been totally ignored. The industry has been successful in spite of government not because of it. “When the government makes poli-

cies in other areas, they should think of the impact on tourism as they do in other countries. Here we don’t even have a dedicated tourism minister. They did promise us one but it didn’t materialise.” Bob also told Destination UK that tourism and hospitality is becoming an increasingly valuable industry, which is providing jobs for people in both cities and and rural areas all over the country at a time when employment can be difficult to find. And he added that these efforts should be recognised by the government for the serious contribution they make to the UK economy. He added: “The government should take tourism more seriously. Looking to the future, there are some commercial industries which might not be with us in 10 years time. We can be sure this industry will be and it could be employing 2.5m people by then – so why not invest in a success story?”  Do you think enough is being done to support the UK’s tourism and hospitality industry? Email your comments to ce@whpl.net or contact Destination UK’s editorial team on 01226 734463.

Promoting tourism ‘a key priority’

A popular music event held in North Wales has helped to put the area on the map as an attractive holiday destination. BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend took place at the Faenol Estate in Bangor and attracted 40,000 fans to watch performances from the likes of Cheryl Cole and Alicia Keys. It is now hoped the region’s increased profile will attract tourists to Gwynedd and act as a springboard to attract more big events.  Full story, Page 5

PROMOTING tourism will be a key priority for Department for Culture Media and Sport in the run up to 2012, according to new culture secretary Jeremy Hunt. In his first keynote speech on tourism policy, he unveiled the government’s plans around tourism and what it hopes to achieve in the future. He pledged to:  Create a new fund with the aim of generating £1b worth of PR and marketing activity in the years around 2012.  Harness the full potential of 2012 to create a permanent tourism legacy.  Set the industry a new goal to increase domestic tourism spend by UK residents to 50 per cent of the total.  Simplify and focus support for the tourism industry. He said: “I believe no other country can offer such rich history, wonderful culture, or stunning countryside, and it’s important we showcase to the world the amazing range of attractions and experiences this country offers.”  For reaction to the news see Page 3


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Industry ready to pick up the Olympic baton By Christina Eccles THE industry has got behind a new government pledge to create a lasting legacy from the 2012 Olympics. Culture minister Jeremy Hunt announced plans to produce a valuable PR and marketing strategy worth £1b in the run up to the Games – with the aim of raising Britain’s profile in key markets to ensure its benefits are felt for years to come. He said that the UK will look to past major events – such as the Olympics in Barcelona and Sydney and the World Cup – to make sure that London gets it right. Tourism bosses have praised this

decision both VisitBritain and VisitEngland lending their support. CEO of VisitBritain Sandie Dawe said: “We are delighted that our new Secretary of State has prioritised the delivery of a lasting tourism legacy from our hosting of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. “This is the world’s greatest sporting event and we intend to put on the world’s biggest party to showcase all that is best about our people, arts, culture, heritage and hospitality. “We are already well positioned to pick up the baton, with a clear strategy to enhance our image as a visitor destination, maximise the economic benefits for tourism

across the UK and deliver a worldclass welcome to visitors in 2012 and beyond. The Olympic and Paralympics Games present a oncein-a-generation opportunity to raise awareness of Britain across the growth tourism markets of Asia and reinvigorate our appeal in core markets such as the USA where we have lost ground. “We look forward to working with the secretary of state and tourism minister to deliver the best marketing strategy ever seen from a host nation and securing sustainable growth for Britain’s tourism industry to ensure that Britain remains a world-class tourist destination.”

Entertainment news in Centrestage starting on Page 13

Big Weekend puts North Wales under the spotlight Page 5

Destination Christmas

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Destination Heart of England Pages 18-19

Contacts EDITORIAL Andrew Harrod group editor 01226 734639 ah@whpl.net Louise Cordell reporter 01226 734694 lcordell@whpl.net Christina Eccles reporter 01226 734463 ce@whpl.net Emma Spencer reporter 01226 734712 emmas@whpl.net

PRODUCTION Judith Halkerston – group deputy editor – jhalkerston@whpl.net Stewart Holt – studio manager – sth@whpl.net Kyle Wilkinson – graphic designer kw@whpl.net Laura Blackburn – graphic designer lb@whpl.net ADVERTISING

The skies above Blackpool will once again light up this September as fabulous fireworks return to the resort. Visit Blackpool has announced a new format for 2010 which will see fireworks displays wowing the crowd over one spectacular

weekend. Winners from previous contests will take part in a Champion of Champions extravaganza which tourism businesses hope will bring in the crowds for the whole three days. Cabinet member for regeneration and tourism at

Blackpool Council coun Maxine Callow said: “This is set to be a fantastic weekend for Blackpool and offers a great opportunity to take an extended weekend break and enjoy our northern lights as the fireworks and illuminations take centre stage.”

Winners announced THE winners of this year’s British Hospitality Association awards have been named. The awards commend outstanding contribution to the tourism and hospitality industry and were presented at the BHA’s luncheon at Grosvenor House in London. Winners included Best Western Hotels for a successful £1m advertising campaign to boost business throughout its 270 hotels and City Inn for its record of innovation in the provision of guest facilities and meeting space.

Indulge in Devon Television presenter Carol Vorderman has officially opened Bristol Zoo’s new amphibian breeding sanctuary. The AmphiPod is home to two of the world’s most endangered frog species – lemur leaf frogs and golden mantella frogs – and provides the perfect conditions to allow the rare frogs to breed.

VISIT Devon has announced its autumn marketing campaign which encourages visitors to indulge all their five senses at a range of celebrations and attractions. Events taking place in the area include the Agatha Christie Festival in September, Heritage Open Days, Widecombe Fair and the Westcountry Balloon Fiesta.

Rachel Wood product manager 01226 734611 rw@whpl.net Andrew Loades sales executive 01226 734634 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

Star-studded A RESORT in Buckinghamshire is celebrating after being awarded five AA stars. Stoke Park, Hotel, Spa and Country Club has been recognised for the quality of its luxurious accommodation, menus, facilities and service. Hotel director Giammario Ragnoli said: “My main objective since I have joined Stoke Park was to gain the five AA stars which I am very pleased to have achieved. Now I want to build on this and take Stoke Park to the next level of excellence to continuously enhance the customer experience.”

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London misses out in tourism hotspot league By Christina Eccles

Liverpool has been named as the host city for this year’s MOBO Awards. The annual event will be celebrating its 15th birthday at the Echo Arena in October – showcasing and honouring some of the biggest names in music. Leader of Liverpool City Council Coun Joe Anderson said: “Liverpool is delighted its bid to be the host for the 2010 MOBO Awards was a winning one and I've no doubt the city will host an unforgettable celebration of

music. Staging high profile events like the MOBO Awards, or bidding to be England's first UNESCO City of Music, is all part of our ambition to build on the legacy of European Capital of Culture and to internationally showcase what Liverpool and its diverse music scene has to offer.”  The news was announced by MOBO’s founder Kanya King and singer and previous award winner Leona Lewis (pictured).

ENGLAND’S best-loved destinations have been controversially left out of a list of the world’s top tourism hotspots. TripAdvisor has unveiled its 2010 Travellers’ Choice Destination awards, which honour the world’s top destinations based on the reviews and opinions of millions of travellers worldwide. But UK destinations are feeling disappointed after only one UK city – Edinburgh – made it on to the list. The Scottish capital came in at number 17 in the European list and number 21 in the global – with London failing to make the grade at all. Trip Advisor spokesman Emma O’Boyle said: “Millions of travellers around the world have spoken and this will serve as a stark wake-up call to London in particular. “London is one of the greatest cities in the world but with the Olympics just two years away there is clearly still work to do to convince travellers that England’s capital is a world-class tourist destination.” Edinburgh also came out on top in the UK destinations category, with London coming in in fourth place. Seaside resort Weymouth was also celebrating after being named as an emerging up and coming destination. Emma added: “The figures show a growing number of travellers searching for holidays to Weymouth, which boasts a picturesque 17th

Tourists can explore using online resource

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AN online resource has been created to help tourists explore the places associated with England’s most famous myths and legends. The map, podcast series and quiz was created by VisitEngland – in partnership with Universal Pictures, VisitBritain and Experience Nottinghamshire – to coincide with the release of new film Robin Hood. As well as Robin Hood, the campaign also looks at figures including Dick Turpin and Lady Godiva. Visit England’s head of marketing Amanda Smyth said: “Films, and the stories behind them, provide some of the most potent inspiration for people planning holidays in this country, “As a country, we are blessed with a rich storytelling heritage and many of the places featured in these tales can still be visited today.”

century harbour and World Heritage coastline. “It’s fantastic to see travellers appreciating the town’s beautiful beach and old-fashioned English hospitality. What’s more, Weymouth will soon secure its place on the global stage when it hosts the sailing events for the 2012 Olympic Games.” However, London did top one poll – best European destination for nightlife – a category which also included Newcastle and Edinburgh. The top 25 UK destinations according to European travellers were: 1. Edinburgh 2. Brighton 3. York 4. London 5. Liverpool 6. Wells 7. Isle of Skye 8. Loch Lomond and The Trossachs 9. Islay 10. St Ives 11. Cardiff 12. Bath 13. Fort William 14. Isle of Wight 15. Tenby 16. Belfast 17. Yorkshire Dales 18. Cheltenham 19. Windermere 20. Padstow 21. Glastonbury 22. Hebden Bridge 23. Hope Cove 24. Durness 25. Salisbury

Monopoly boost

Football fever spread to Bristol Zoo Gardens when its baby Meerkats got in on the action. The animals were given footballs to play with – entertaining each other and visitors to the attraction with their antics.

BLACKPOOL is to get its own Monopoly game in celebration of the town’s success on the football field. A regional version of the famous board game had been considered for the Lancashire town in 2013 but was brought forward to mark Blackpool FC’s move into the Premier League. The new game will see more than 30 famous landmarks swapping places with the likes of Mayfair and Park Lane and will hit shelves in October. Head of visitBlackpool Natalie Wyatt said: "This game is going to be a fantastic boost to the town not just for our residents but our visitors too, who get to take a slice of Blackpool home with them.”

100,000 visitors Discover Greenwich A NEW attraction in Greenwich has welcomed 100,000 visitors through its doors in its first six weeks of opening. Discover Greenwich explores over 500 years of royal and maritime history using artifacts, film footage

and models – some of which are on view for the first time. Chief executive of the Greenwich Foundation Duncan Wilson said: “We are delighted with the response we have had from visitors to Discover Greenwich.

“The aim of Discover Greenwich is to become the starting point for a visit to the World Heritage site and it has proved to be an invaluable source for people to learn more about the fascinating history of the place.”


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Event was fantastic opportunity for area NORTH Wales was put under the spotlight with ‘money can’t buy’ coverage when a star-studded music event came to the region. BBC Radio One chose Bangor as the destination for its annual Big Weekend, which attracted 40,000 fans to the Faenol Estate to see top acts including Cheryl Cole, Rihanna (pictured), Dizzee Rascal and Florence and the Machine. As this year’s host, the area’s profile was increased by massive coverage on the BBC – including many mentions on Radio One, live radio broadcasts from the venue in the run up to the event, televised highlights shown on BBC3 and a dedicated event website linked to the Visit Snowdonia site. And it is hoped that holding such a prestigious event will draw attention to the area from tourists and encourage organisers to bring more big events. Gwynedd Council leader, Coun Dyfed Edwards said: “The Big Weekend has been a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase what makes Gwynedd a great place to live, work and visit – not

only for the 40,000 who attended the event, but also for the millions more listening and watching at home. There is no doubt whatsoever that the priceless coverage our area has enjoyed over recent weeks as a result of this event will provide a real long-term boost for the local economy for the future. Crucially, we have also ensured that the Big

Weekend has provided a unique opportunity for many of Gwynedd’s young people to experience the opportunities which the cultural industries and Gwynedd itself can offer.” This was the 10th Big Weekend and Radio One’s head of live events Jason Carter added that the Faenol Estate was the best site they had ever used.

Backing for real Devon cream tea campaign VISIT Devon is backing a new campaign to give the traditional Devon cream tea EU protected status. The campaign was launched by local dairy Langage Farm after worries that sub-standard versions could be detrimental to the image of a real Devon cream tea. Gaining Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) would mean teas must be produced, processed or prepared in Devon. Langage Farm general manager Paul Winterton said: “I have seen Devon cream teas with cream dispensed from a can and the scone was more like a cake. With an excellent food like the Devon cream tea, you need to know its origin.” The next step will be to win the backing of the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to take the case for PDO status to the EU. If the Devon cream tea wins protected status, it will join cheeses including Stilton, Single Gloucester, Dovedale and Swaledale, and Cornish clotted cream.

Campaign to boost summer of events

Tourists at Blackpool Zoo have been able to visit new arrivals at the attraction. The zoo has welcomed its first ever Western Lowland Gorilla and Pileated Gibbon babies and has also opened a new sea lion pool – the largest in the UK.

TOURISM bosses in Chester and Cheshire have joined forces with Virgin Trains to launch a new advertising campaign, showcasing a summer of events. The campaign – created and produced by Visit Chester and Cheshire – will include radio advertising throughout the north and midlands regions on Classic FM as well as print advertising in weekend magazines for the Daily Mail, Times, Sunday Times and Telegraph. Inserts will also go into specialist titles like BBC Gardeners’ World, alongside social media activity and online advertising on national newspaper websites. The message of the campaign is to highlight why the big events taking place in the region make an ideal ‘Eventful Escape’ and, particularly aims to increase overnight stays. There will also be a speciallyproduced ‘Eventful Escapes’ guide for visitors, as well as a dedicated website. Events which will be focused on include the RHS Show at Tatton Park, Creamfields and Chester Races. Staff from Visit Chester and Cheshire and Virgin Trains launched the campaign at London’s Euston station.

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Staycation: it’s here to stay – VisitEngland

A hotel chain created a range of suitably glamorous new cocktails to celebrate the launch of Sex and the City 2. Park Plaza Hotels and Resorts invited fans of the film to toast its release with the drinks, which were inspired by each of the leading characters including Carrie Bradshaw, played by actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

THE staycation is here to stay as more people continue to enjoy a holiday in England, according to new figures. Statistics released by Visit England show last year, the country enjoyed an 18 per cent increase in the number of holiday trips taken – with holiday makers spending £1bn more than in the previous year. The research identified two groups who changed their behaviour in 2009 to generate the increase in domestic holidays. Switchers accounted for 13 per cent of respondents and included a high proportion of families who were primarily motivated to switch a foreign holiday for one at home because of financial constraints. The second group, extras, accounted for 15 per cent of respondents and tended to be younger. This group was less affected by the credit crunch and their economic situation and was more motivated by a desire to explore the UK and go somewhere new, as well as keeping their overseas breaks. Together, these staycationers account for one in four of the

population and findings show 90 per cent of staycationers expect to take at least one break in England this year – with half the population expecting they will take more domestic breaks even beyond 2010. Visit England chief executive James Berresford said: “These findings prove that England’s new found popularity as a holiday destination is not merely a flash in the pan. “Of course, circumstances last year certainly encouraged more Brits to take a break at home, however this research shows that there is a more permanent shift in attitudes to holidaying at home. “It’s a hugely rewarding experience to rediscover your own country and it’s clear that once you do, you want to do it again and again. “England is a wonderful destination. We have some of the world’s best countryside, coastline, cities, festivals and people – literally on our doorstep. With so much on offer to see and do I’m not surprised England is becoming more and more popular with Brits as a top class holiday destination.”

Follow the yellow brick road – at the GLTT ORGANISERS of the Group Leisure and Travel Trade Show (GLTT) have confirmed that The Wizard of Oz will be the official sponsor of its Premier Lounge this year and that the West End Show will also sponsor the entrance at the 2010 exhibition. Taking place at the NEC on September 22-23, nominated visitors to the GLTT will now be able to follow the yellow brick road to the Premier Lounge to enjoy complimentary light refreshments and VIP privileges. Adele Godden from See groups, representing The Wizard of Oz said: “We’re delighted to be involved in the show and to be able to showcase The Wizard of Oz to group organisers and the travel trade. With so much interest in the show following the Over The Rainbow series on BBC1, visitors can expect a splash of colour at the NEC – Oz style.” The annual GLTT which is in its 14th year, continues to attract an important mix of established and new exhibitors. Organiser Emma Cash added: “With our group and coach operator focus so popular with exhibitors, the GLTT continues to attract buyers with substantial spending power looking for new ideas, services, products and destinations at a key autumn planning time.”

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Manchester’s best hailed THE best of Manchester’s tourism industry has been rewarded at a glittering ceremony. The winners of the Manchester Tourism Awards were revealed at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate in an evening hosted by actor and comedian John Thomson. Winners included:  Large Hotel of the Year: Radisson Edwardian  Small Hotel/B&B of the Year: Cherry Clough Farmhouse Accommodation  Large Visitor Attraction of the Year: Manchester Art Gallery  Small Visitor Attraction of the Year: Stockport Air Raid Shelters  Taste of Manchester Award: The River Bar and Restaurant at the

Lowry Hotel  Serviced Apartments of the Year: The Atrium by Bridgestreet Managing director Paul Simpson said: “This year’s winners and nominees have proven that during a time of economic difficulty, the highest quality of customer service is more important than ever. “With the situation now improving, it is due to the hard work and commitment of those working within the industry that the city is able to call itself a top tourism destination. Manchester consistently proves it has many top quality entrants in these awards and this year was no exception. “All winners should be proud of their achievements.”


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‘Sports tourism can reap rewards’ NATIONAL and regional tourism boards should pay more attention to sports tourism, experts have claimed. A think tank of senior buyers organised by World Travel Market agreed that tourism bodies need to be more pro-active in identifying the opportunities that can come from hosting sporting events. The group claims that although events such as the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics and Paralympics Games and The Ashes are all established travel products, the market for hosting specialist and niche events is currently underestimated. A sports marketing specialist said that the return on investment for a country or region hosting and promoting a niche event would be greater than spending the budget on a generic campaign. The sports tourism sector also covers participation, where visitors take part in their chosen activity rather than watch. This is another area where tourist boards can help the industry while helping their region. Chairman of World Travel Market Fiona Jeffrey said: “World Travel Market is the premier global event for business, and this discussion has really opened our eyes to the scale and complexity of the sports tourism market and what we can do to help operators and destinations exploit this vast opportunity.”

Brazilian partnership deal signed

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VISITBRITAIN has signed a partnership with Brazilian tourism organisation Embratur to increase tourism between the two countries around the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Potential areas for collaboration include joint lobbying for increased air capacity between the UK and Brazil and introductions to key contacts in the run up to both Olympic Games. VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe explained: “We feel that this sets the stage for much greater engagement between our two countries and how we can work together on tourism issues and many others. “We both share the challenge and the privilege of hosting this huge event, so we can think about not only what it can do for us but what we can do for the Olympic movement.”

Seaside survival is good news for the British economy THE British seaside tourism industry is thriving, with jobs in the sector worth £3.6m to local economies, a new report has revealed. Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University explored the value of the industry in England and Wales – and discovered that it remains a substantial and growing employer. According to the results, this industry directly supports about 210,000 jobs spread across more than 100 resorts. The Blackpool area has the largest single concentration of seaside tourist jobs – more than 19,000 – and 58 towns each have at least 1,000 jobs in seaside tourism. Professor Steve Fothergill, from Sheffield Hallam's Centre for

Regional Economic and Social Research led the team. He said: “That a large seaside tourist industry has survived and adapted is good news, not just for seaside towns but for the British economy as a whole. “Leisure and tourism is a growing market. What our figures show is that even in the face of stiff competition from holidays abroad, Britain's seaside towns have been able to retain and even expand much of their core business. “The British seaside tourist industry remains a major employer. The new government should make every effort to ensure that the industry delivers its full potential in the coming years.” Director of the British Resorts

and Destinations Association Peter Hampson added: “People who follow the fortunes of the British seaside tourist industry have always known it is a myth that the industry is in terminal decline, but we have not had the comprehensive and convincing evidence to prove otherwise until now. “Britain’s seaside resorts face challenges in responding to changing economic circumstances and consumer tastes, but what the Sheffield Hallam report tells us is that in many places around the coast the seaside tourist industry is still alive and well – and growing. The seaside tourist industry has been written off too often. This report highlights its resilience.”

Super heroes MADAME Tussauds has unveiled a new attraction which brings to life some of the world’s best-loved super heroes. Marvel Super Heroes 4D brings together a mix of animation, interactive themed areas and realistic wax figures where visitors are able to get close to figures of their favourite characters including Spider Man.

London app Four of Premier Holidays’ sales and marketing team have won a top competition. The team – Debbie Goffin, Emma Coteman, Clare Crowson and Emily Brown – won tickets to see Sex and the City 2 plus shopping vouchers after sending in the winning entry, explaining why they deserved to win the prize.

A NEW mobile phone application has been launched to help visitors explore London’s Regent Street. The walking tour App and printed guide illustrates a route along Regent Street – exploring buildings and landmarks along the way.


Henry VIII continues to hold court daily at Hampton Court where groups enter a living Tudor world and can participate in life at Henry’s palace from special Tudor cookery weekends to everyday court life. However, visitors may meet one of Henry’s renowned six wives during 2010 in a series of Henry’s Women weekends. On 24th July, Henry VIII journeys with his wife, Jane Seymour, along the River Thames to his pleasure palace of Hampton Court, where falconry, fencing and archery are among the entertainments. The palace will remain open until 10.00pm for a special summer evening of celebrations. Also, from 28th- 30th August, love is in the air as Queen Anne prepares for summer festivities at Hampton Court Palace. When derogatory comments are passed about the King’s prowess, Henry decides to prove himself on the newly prepared tournament field. But which of the Queen's friends dare take up the challenge? Groups can also step into the Tudor kitchens and watch the cooks prepare tantalizing feasts for Henry’s queen using traditional recipes, ingredients, utensils and cooking methods. Cooking events take place on 3 – 4 July, 7 – 8 and 28 – 30 August, 4 – 5 September, 2 – 3 October, 6 – 7 November and 4 – 5 December. Also new for 2010, is the newly installed wine fountain. At over 4 meters high, it is a copy of the one which Henry VIII built at The Field of the Cloth

of Gold in 1520.Visitors can see the original painting and learn more about Henry’s parties in our exhibition Young Henry in the Wolsey Rooms. The new fountain will flow with red and white wine and groups will be encouraged to join in the celebrations and purchase a glass between 4.30pm and 5.30pm each day throughout the summer. For your groups opportunity to meet Henry VIII’s wives or to enjoy a tipple or two at the Wine Fountain, call our Contact Centre on 0844 482 7770 or e-mail groupsandtraveltrade@hrp.org.uk. Please quote “Destination UK July” when contacting us.


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Castle to host winter event By Christina Eccles A NEW winter festival is coming to Yorkshire in December which will combine the spectacular backdrop of Ripley Castle with live music. The White Rose Winter Festival will take place over three days and include three evening performances and one matinee, showcasing a variety of different musical genres. The event will take place in a specially erected structure in the castle’s courtyard and festivalgoers will be treated to performances including The Four Seasons by Candlelight, The Sound of the Musicals and the Ripley Castle Winter Proms. Guests will also be able to enhance their experience further by purchasing one of a range of hospitality packages which include the chance to dine within the castle. According to organisers, corporate hospitality is also selling well – particularly for the

Thursday night performance – as companies look for an alternative Christmas event to entertain clients and staff. The festival has also managed to secure sponsorship from Welcome to Yorkshire so can benefit from its support and marketing expertise. Organiser Emma Ramply explained: “We had been speaking to Welcome to Yorkshire and found that our remit was in line with what they are trying to do, which is encourage more people into the region. Being part of their marketing campaign is huge for us. For corporate clients, there is nothing else like it at that time of year. Our main priority is to create a popular and sustainable event which will get a good reputation both regionally and nationally. We want people to enjoy themselves and feel they got value for money and had a good time.”

Christmas Market dates extended

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Picture: Bath Tourism Plus/Colin Hawkins

THE organisers of Bath Christmas Market have extended the dates of this year’s event to meet an increase in demand. The market – organised by Bath Tourism Plus – will run from November 25 to December 12 and is this year celebrating its 10th anniversary. Previously, visitor numbers have topped 200,000 over 11 days and organisers hope that with an extra week this year to enjoy the festivities, 2010’s market will be bigger and better than ever. Features on show at the event will include over 100 retailers selling their goods in traditional wooden chalets. Visitors can also extend their stay by continuing their shopping in the city’s streets.

Tourism bosses in Southport have announced a range of activities taking place over the festive period. Highlights include the traditional Christmas light switch on and parade as well as the return of special festive weekends complete with market, rides and treasure hunts.

Festive plans HISTORIC Royal Palaces has unveiled plans for the Christmas season. Visitors can celebrate a Tudor Christmas at Hampton Court Palace where the venue will be twinkling in traditional Tudor decorations from mid December. Henry’s Great Kitchens will also be a hive of activity as the Tudor Cooks prepare a seasonal feast fit for a king. Over at the Tower of London the story takes on a medieval twist as King Edward I summons his large family together for one last Christmas before he invades Scotland again.


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Homecoming year brings in £53.7m By Christina Eccles

A new open air theatre in Scarborough got a royal seal of approval with a visit from the Queen. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh performed the official opening duties before being given an exclusive tour of the newly restored £3.5m, 6,500 seat theatre and an exclusive performance. The venue – which is the largest of its kind in Europe – will be sponsored by Welcome to

Yorkshire. Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity said: “The theatre is a gem in Scarborough’s entertainment crown and as the largest open air theatre of its kind in Europe it is a fantastic asset for both Yorkshire and the UK.” The theatre will host its first public performance on July 23 starring José Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

SCOTLAND’S year of Homecoming generated £53.7m of revenue for the country – exceeding its target by 22 per cent. New figures show that the year long celebration of all things Scottish created a return on investment of nearly 1:10 with large numbers of visitors citing it as part of the reason they chose to visit. 95,000 visitors were influenced to travel to Scotland as a result of Homecoming – with 72,000 exclusively drawn by the celebrations and a further 23,000 claiming it was a factor in making their decision to visit in 2009. £154m of positive global media coverage for Homecoming and Scotland was also generated by a multi-award winning PR campaign. Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond said: “Scotland’s first ever year of Homecoming was a great success, demonstrating the power

Toolkit helps businesses go green ... TOURISM businesses who want to go green have been given a helping hand by VisitEngland. The tourism body has launched an online toolkit to help small to medium sized businesses become more sustainable. Green Start is available to tourism businesses interested in understanding how they can embrace sustainable practices. It has been designed to help them review their performance and illustrates how sustainable practice can save money, encourage greater efficiency and have a positive impact on the local community. VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said: “It’s important for the industry to realise that becoming sustainable has multiple benefits, not least improving the bottom line. “The future success of the tourism industry must be underpinned by a sustainable approach, both in terms of protecting the natural environment that makes England such an attractive destination and ensuring long-term economic success. “Green Start will help businesess make those first vital steps towards 12 reaching that goal.”

of partnership and what can be achieved when the country unites behind an inspirational campaign. “Our year-long celebration created legacies that will benefit Scotland in the coming years as we work towards 2014 when Scotland hosts the Commonwealth Games and The Ryder Cup. “I am delighted to announce that 2014 will also be our next year of Homecoming, when we extend the invitation to the world once more to join our celebrations.” Chairman of VisitScotland Dr Mike Cantlay added: “Homecoming came at a difficult time for Scottish tourism and helped to bring growth to the industry when we all feared a downturn. “It showed the strength of everyone in tourism working together and the power of partnerships – from the smallest school and community group to every local authority and major festivals.”

Disruption sparks resurgence

Chef Joël Antunes has opened a new London restaurant – returning to the capital after more than a decade abroad. Brasserie Joël is located at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London hotel and has a menu based on a selection of classic bistro dishes.

SEARCHES for accommodation bookings in the UK have risen by over 70 per cent, according to figures released by Hotels.com The figures show searches for Bath are up 73 per cent year on year with Glasgow and Edinburgh also proving popular – up 52 per cent and 42 per cent respectively. Global communications director Alison Couper said: “These statistics show that the recent disruption faced by travellers has sparked resurgence in interest for trusty UK breaks. “The UK is a haven for tourists with so many sights to see and places to visit, and with a warm and sunny summer forecasted now is a great time to explore all the UK has to offer.”

Website bid to attract visitors to Britain VISITBRITAIN has launched a new website which it hopes will inspire visitors worldwide to come to Britain. The site will be VisitBritain’s main platform for communicating with its customers, focusing on producing dynamic and personalised content tailored to the country the visitor comes from and written in their language.

It is a key part of VisitBritain’s digital strategy using social media, online content and mobiles to enthuse potential visitors to Britain. Director of marketing Laurence Bresh said: “The new website is key to delivering our strategy to inspire visitors to visit Britain before, during and after the Olympic Games.

“Visitbritain.com regularly wins awards as the best national tourist office web site in the world. “But we don’t want to rest on our laurels – the new site moves even further ahead of the competition by fully embracing social media platforms, online video and personalised content.”


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Timeless favourite still going strong NOW in its second recordbreaking year, Oliver! is one of the most beloved British musicals, vividly bringing to life Dickens' timeless characters with its ever-popular story of the boy who asked for more. Russ Abbot, one of the most popular entertainers in Britain stars as Fagin alongside Kerry Ellis as Nancy and Steven Hartley as Bill Sikes. Russ is no stranger to Oliver! having played the role of Fagin at the Palladium, Theatre Royal and on tour. Russ's other on-stage credits include Grandpa Potts in hit musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Most recently, Russ played the role of Hobbo in the latest series of BBC 1's Last of the Summer Wine. With a cast and orchestra of over 100, the sensational score is full of Lionel Bart's irresistible songs including Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, You've Got to Pick-a-Pocket or Two, I'd Do Anything, Oom Pah Pah, As Long As He Needs Me and many more. Rupert Goold (Best Director, 2008 Olivier Awards), has restaged Sam Mendes'

acclaimed production, and along with Tony award-winning director and choreographer Matthew Bourne, uses every inch of London's greatest musical stage with even more sensational sets by Anthony Ward.

Les Miserables marks 25th anniversary with special concert LES Miserables will celebrate its 25th birthday in October with a special anniversary concert at the O2. With high demand and tickets already in short supply, Superbreak is urging agents to promote its packages to the concert as it still has good availability. This is a one-off, must see event for any Les Miserables fan with celebrations not seen since the 10th anniversary 15 years ago. The concert will host a star studded company of over 300 actors and musicians, including Alfie Boe, Nick Jonas and Camilla Kerslake, as well as the casts of the original production at the Queen’s Theatre, the new 25th anniversary production at the Barbican and members of the original 1985 London cast. Superbreak’s sales director Ian Mounser said: “Les Mis has been seen by 56m people worldwide in 42 countries. It’s the world’s longest running musical and has an extensive following. “Tickets are already scarce, so much so that they added a matinee performance. 14 “We still have good availability for

Comedy actor John Thomson, will play the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood at the Marlowe Theatre Arena in Canterbury this Christmas. He will be joined in the pantomime by children’s TV presenter Sid Sloane and Covent Garden street performer Ben Langley.

Show roars to box office record TICKET sales for Disney’s The Lion King smashed box office records last year, figures have revealed. The show grossed over £32m at the box office in 2009, making it the highest-grossing year in the show’s 10-year history.

The Lion King has now been seen by over 50m people worldwide and in addition to productions in London and New York, can currently be seen in cities including Paris, Hamburg and Las Vegas.

Ian Mounser

New production set to sweep the West End

both the matinee and evening performances and agents have a real opportunity to drive business into their shops as they may be one of the only ways to get a ticket.”

A NEW production of Room on the Broom is flying into London’s West End this summer. Based on the best-selling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and devised by acclaimed children’s

theatre company Tall Stories, the show follows in the footsteps of other successful children’s productions such as The Gruffalo. It is on at the Garrick Theatre from July 28 to August 29.


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Jennifer Ellison and Jonathan Wilkes are to star in a new pantomime at Stoke on Trent’s Regent Theatre – Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates. The Regent Theatre’s pantomime has become a mustsee Christmas tradition with the show being produced by First Family Entertainment. FFE

have produced The Regent pantomimes since 2005 including the smash hit productions of Mother Goose, Aladdin, Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and last year’s Dick Whittington. Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates runs from December 9 to January 9.

Abi Titmuss will lead the cast of a new production coming to His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen this autumn. She will star in Olivier awardwinning comedy Up ‘n’ Under which is on at the theatre in September.

Dame Judi Dench is to feature as the voice of the Giant in a new production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. The production is on at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park from August 6 to September 11.

Wicked hits £100m milestone HIT West End show Wicked has reached a milestone sales figure of £100m. The show at the Apollo Victoria Theatre has played over 1500 performances since its West End premiere in September 2006. Executive producer Michael McCabe said: "This is an incredible milestone for us to have reached. Fantastic word-of-mouth from our audiences continues to produce

sustained growth at the Box Office and we are very proud that the extraordinary momentum we have experienced since opening in 2006 has now achieved matured sales of £100m. We are greatly indebted to everyone who works on the show and especially to those whose passion and care ensures that we deliver such high quality performances for our audiences to enjoy.”

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West End hoping for £2m boost from free festival

Hollywood actor Jeff Goldblum has returned to the West End stage in a new production. He is currently starring in Neil Simon’s award-winning comedy, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, at London’s Vaudeville Theatre.

THE success of a free theatre festival in Leicester Square is expected to give the West End a £2m boost. Crowds of 250,000 flocked to West End LIVE to see some of the biggest names in musical theatre spread over two fun filled days of entertainment. Highlights of the festival included performances from Sheridan Smith as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde and Patina Miller as Delores in Sister Act as well as stars from shows including Jersey Boys, We Will Rock You and Dirty Dancing. The show, which is organised by Westminster Council and is now in its sixth year, was so popular that some eager visitors started queuing at 4am to ensure they got the best spots to watch the shows.

And following the success of the event, organisers are expecting a surge in theatre bookings. Westminster Council’s deputy leader Coun Robert Davis said: “Without doubt, this has been our biggest and best West End LIVE. We've seen spectacular performances from some of the nation's favourites shows. "This event is a showcase for everything the West End has to offer and I think we've proved there really is something for everyone.” President of the Society of London Theatre Nica Burns added: “London has the best theatre in the world and West End LIVE is a fantastic opportunity for people to sample some of the West End's most popular shows for free.”

Matilda to get her own musical ROALD Dahl’s much-loved character Matilda will be getting her own musical later this year, premiering in November. Encore Tickets has announced new group rates for the show, which is being staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. Encore Head of Sales Richard Woolliss said: “I don’t think Matilda will need any of

her powers to fill The Courtyard Theatre. This really is a magic combination; one of the most famous children’s stories brought to life by the Royal Shakespeare Company at their home in Stratfordupon-Avon. It’s perfect for groups aged seven to 70, but it is just a three-month run so we would advise group organisers to get in touch as soon as possible to secure seats.”

Curtain rises on Kids’ Week

A new dance spectacular is currently lighting up the London stage. Burn the Floor – which stars Strictly Come Dancing couple Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna 16 – is on at the Shaftesbury Theatre until September.

KIDS’ Week is returning to the West End in August to give children the opportunity to see some of London’s top shows for free. During Kids’ Week, a child aged five to 16 can go free to any participating show when

accompanied by an adult paying full price. Kids can also take part in a wide range of free activities and events from energetic dance workshops to behind the scenes tours.


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Historic Royal Palaces and Royal Armouries have joined forces to present ‘Fit for a King’, a stunning new permanent exhibition showcasing five hundred years of royal arms and armour. The Tower of London’s iconic White Tower will host the exhibition of Tudor, Stuart, Hanoverian and Windsor arms and armour from Easter 2010, marking the 350th anniversary of King Charles II’s restoration and the Tower of London opening to visitors for the first time. The exhibition begins with two contrasting pieces of 16th Century armour created for King Henry VIII. His intricately decorated ‘silvered and engraved’ armour (c.1515) celebrates his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, and is adorned with the intertwined initials ‘H’ and ‘K’. This armour was possibly one of the first works produced in Henry’s newly-established workshops at Greenwich. This will be displayed alongside Henry’s much later field and tournament garniture armour (c.1540), probably made for one of the last tournaments organised by the monarch. Whilst Henry VIII’s armour was created in the Greenwich workshops built by the King, the exhibition will also showcase the skilled craftsmanship of other nation’s armour workshops. The truly exquisite, traditional Japanese armour (c.1610) gifted to King James I

Image courtesy of The Royal Armouries.

Tower of London

(James VI of Scotland) by Tokugawa Hidetaada is almost certainly the first Japanese armour ever to be seen in Britain. Also joining the royal line up on five hundred years of armour, are those created for much younger royalty, including young Edward VI and Charles I as a prince, so they could ‘dress up’ as their heroic fathers and ancestors. King Edward VI’s light cavalry armour of about 1550 was crafted for the teenage King when he was aged just 13 years in the Greenwich workshops established by his father, Henry VIII. Young Prince Charles’s miniature horseman’s armour of about 1615 which later passed from Charles I to his eldest son, the future Charles II, is another beautiful work of art created in the Netherlands. Finally, a collection of Hanoverian and Windsor swords starting with George I’s through to that of George VI completes the line up of nearly five centuries of royal arms and armour. 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 July” when contacting us.


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Open-top bus service gets back on road WARWICK Castle and City Sightseeing Tours have teamed up to offer locals and tourists a regular open-top bus service to the castle grounds for the first time in 10 years. The new partnership will see the City Sightseeing buses call at the castle four times a day at weekends up to July 24, when the tour will run daily throughout the summer months. The castle will form part of a brand new itinerary that will allow

visitors easier access to attractions outside the town centre, including Charlecote Park, Compton Verney and the Heritage Motor Centre. Trade sales and marketing manager at Warwick Castle Mark Anderson said: “This spells great news for tourists visiting the area as well as local people, who will be able to take advantage of the new tour to allow them easier access to some of the best attractions that the area has to offer.”

All guides catered for BIRMINGHAM Tours specialises in providing friendly qualified guides for either walking or driving tours in the city. We provide fixed date and private walks throughout the year including Ghost Walks, Jewellery Quarter Walks, the Real Ale trail and many more. As part of our days out in Birmingham programme, we operate the Big Brum Open Top Buz Sightseeing tour on a fixed date basis or as themed tours such as Tolkien, Birmingham Rocks or the Black Country bus tour. We cater for large or small groups offering themed walks or bus tours, birthday parties, Easter or Christmas present, childrens’ walks and more. Contact: Tel/Fax No: 0121 427 2555 Email: enquiries@birmingham-tours.co.uk

Where magic begins...

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THE Wizarding World of Harry Potter may have opened recently in America, but Stratfordupon-Avon has its very own magical and unique attraction selling real wands, an apothecary and the world's oldest and largest collection of magical spells for sale. The quirky, three storey building in Henley Street is steeped in history and home to not one, but two magical attractions. Bombay Manor, home to the eccentric and deeply troubled ‘Bombay’ family featuring spooky family fun by day and The Stratford Ripper Experience, Warwickshire’s premier scare attraction, featuring a range of terrifying ghost events for adults by night. Wander into this historic building and step into the delightful Magical Gift Shop selling books, candles and popular old fashioned sweets. From Fizzing Whizzbangs to hand decorated Chocolate Frogs and Sherbert Fountains, there’s something for everyone. The world’s largest range of magic spells offers you the chance to realise your dreams from winning the lottery to attracting love and the Wand Shoppe sells traditional handmade magic wands as well as warrants and scrolls including ‘the witches curse’. You can even write letters using old fashioned paper and send them anywhere in the world from the Owl Post Office. An old fashioned, fully functioning Victorian Apothecary features Stratford's largest selection of herbs, roots and incense with over 350 different herbs and oils encased in antique bottles and jars. Watch spells, incense and dream pillows being made using traditional recipes, some of which are over 2000 years old. Learn about the herbal lore used in Shakespeare’s plays or make and blend your own perfume, oils, bath salts or incense. Upstairs, across two floors accessed by creaky, winding and darkly lit staircases is a warren of rooms, home to the Bombay family and filled with interesting exhibits. The rooms contain a fascinating glimpse into the private lives of one of the country's most eccentric family. The Bombay family was cursed many centuries ago and their presence is still felt in the building. Due to the nature of the attraction it is not suitable for those aged under six.


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Hotel industry booming in Birmingham BIRMINGHAM’S hotel industry is booming – with figures showing an increase in both hotel occupancy and room rates throughout the city and wider area. Research has shown that hotel occupancy in the city centre increased by seven per cent year on year in March 2010 – from 69 per cent last year up to 76 per cent. The wider Birmingham area, including the NEC, has also seen a large increase with hotel occupancy rising 11 per cent from 53 per cent in March 2009 to 64 per cent in the same month this year. As well as occupancy, revenue per available room (RevPAR) has increased by 9.8 per cent to £48.63 for city centre hotels from March 2009 to March 2010. The wider Birmingham area also saw an increase of three per cent compared to last March. RevPAR peaked in November 2009 at £53.29 and £62.79 for the city centre and wider Birmingham area respectively.

The number of bed spaces has also increased, with the city’s growing hotel capacity enabling it to attract more high profile events such as the Conservative Party Conference and European Championships in Gymnastics. Commercial director at Marketing Birmingham Ian Taylor said: “Birmingham has shown a good performance in a tough trading environment. Although the UK is officially out of the recession, the economic climate remains difficult. “However, these figures show the city’s hotel sector is well placed to recover relatively quickly. The city has a strong conference and exhibition sector and is now a regular on the Political party conference circuit. “Furthermore, the successful hosting of the Rotary international Convention in June 2009 has reinforced the city’s position as an international conference destination.”

Visitors to an attraction in Stratford-upon-Avon can admire a new floral display on show throughout July. The Sweet Pea Festival at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage includes almost 40 varieties of the flower, which have all been grown from seed by gardeners at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Blue Badge Guided Tours BLUE Badge tourist guide Roger Bailey offers guided walking and coach tours including 1,000 year old Coventry, with its three cathedral sites, one being featured on Time Team. Discover its medieval past including St Mary’s Guildhall of 1342. Also Stratford upon Avon, Birmingham and its jewellery and pen heritage. Other places include Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick, Kenilworth, Birmingham, Oxford, The Cotswolds, Black Country, Ironbridge and more. Also explore the Staffordshire Hoard trail, visiting places like Lichfield and Tamworth. Based in Coventry, near the NEC and Birmingham Airport, close to Stratford upon Avon and Birmingham. Available seven days a week. Contact 024 7669 1212 or email bluebadgecov@aol.com

Daniel Gidney (chief executive of the Ricoh Arena), Jonathan Edwards (London 2012 board member) and David Moorcroft (Coventry’s former Olympian)

Olympic footballing venue success for Coventry COVENTRY’S Ricoh Arena will be used as a footballing venue for London 2012, organisers have revealed. The stadium was selected by LOCOG as a replacement for Villa Park, which was ruled out because of planned building work, and will be temporarily renamed the City of

Coventry Stadium for the Games. LOCOG chair Seb Coe said: “The City of Coventry Stadium is a great venue, and will be an excellent host for football matches for the London 2012 Olympic Games. “It is ideally located in the centre of England and the city already has strong links with London 2012.”

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New centre aims to be the best By Christina Eccles ONE of Britain’s most popular cities has opened a new information centre to help locals and tourists get the most from their visits. The new service – situated in the heart of York – provides up to date information on attractions and events in the city as well as the wider Yorkshire area. Its opening was celebrated with a spectacular event, which featured staff from Visit York as well as character representatives from some of the city’s best loved attractions. Those in the queue included Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger from the summer production of Wind in the Willows at York Theatre Royal, Cinderella and the Ugly Sisters from York’s Grand Opera House production, characters from the York Dungeon and a real-life Viking from Jorvik.

The characters then toured the city to let passers by know that the new centre was open for business. Visit York’s visitor services manager Chris Morton said: “The launch has been a fitting tribute to the new centre, which will enable residents and visitors to get the very best out of the city and the wider region. The whole city is behind us and we hope that our customers enjoy the new facilities and services this provision will bring.” In its first full year of trading, Visit York aims to increase visits to the information centre by an additional 96,000 – increasing the the total footfall by 40 per cent to 336,000 – and eventually to 400,000. Chief executive of Visit York Gillian Cruddas added: “There’s never been a visitor information service like this that has been devised from scratch with the customer in mind. Everything we have put into the

design, gift sourcing and information is planned with the visitor in mind. Our aim is to make this centre a flagship for Yorkshire

and the very best information service in the country, using the very latest technology – a centre of excellence.”

Actor fronts new campaign

Princess Anne will be among the visitors to this year’s Great Yorkshire Show, organisers have revealed. The Princess will tour the famous farming and countryside show on the first day

of the event. Honorary show director Bill Cowling said: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming Princess Anne in July. She is well known as a huge supporter of rural life and her

interest and knowledge of all things equine is renowned. I am sure she will have a super time with us, and her visit will give an extra reason to come to what is England’s premier show.”

ACCOMMODATION website Hotels.com has launched a new TV advertising campaign in the UK and Ireland. Actor Martin Clunes voices the campaign, which features a new hotel-obsessed character musing on the reasons why Hotels.com is the best site on which to book hotel accommodation. Reasons highlighted will include the breadth of hotel choice (Hotels.com has in excess of 120,000 properties on offer) and the site's Price Match Guarantee.

Encore Tickets has won two top coach awards. The company was named best service provider at the UK Coach Awards before walking away with ticket supplier of the year, awarded by Coach Monthly. Managing director John Wales said: “It is a real honour not only to win these awards, and even

more important to be able to show our partners in the coach industry that we have been able to maintain our high standards over the past 12 months.”  Pictured: the Encore group’s team – Richard Woolliss, Lucy Bailey, Gemma Mortimer, Andreas Papandreas and John Wales.

Tasty bid to attract tourists TOURISTS are being tempted to the North East by a new campaign designed to highlight the region’s food and drink offering. Some of the biggest names in the sector have come together to form the North East England Food and Drink Group – which will be led by

leading government advisor on farming and food Sir Donald Curry. One of its priorities will include encouraging local producers to supply new markets such as the tourism and hospitality sectors – allowing visitors to try some of the area’s best produce.

Yorkshire garden the cream of the crop at Chelsea THE public’s favourite garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show was Welcome to Yorkshire’s Rhubarb Crumble and Custard creation. The garden won the prestigious People’s Choice award, beating off stiff competition from rival gardens. Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive Gary Verity said: “The public have voted with their hearts and chosen Yorkshire’s garden as their favourite. “We have had thousands of 20

people all week telling us that the garden has captured their imagination, we are just glad that it has been formally recognised with this award. “Yorkshire’s Rhubarb Crumble and Custard Garden really is the cream of the crop.” The garden itself was a quirky take on the classic dish, inspired by Yorkshire’s own rhubarb triangle, featuring an overflowing bowl of rhubarb crumble and custard and a giant wooden spoon.


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DESTINATIONNORTH EAST 2009’s ‘staycation’ phenomenon gave tourism in the North East a new lease of life. Christina Eccles found out why joined up thinking and embracing new technology ensures the visitors keep coming ...

Team work works in North East CHAIR of the North East Tourism Advisory Board Geoff Hodgson claims that people holidaying at home last year helped the North East’s tourism businesses to achieve great results. Hotels and attractions both experienced growth in visitor numbers – with Beamish up by 33 per cent last year. The trend has also continued into 2010, with Bamburgh Castle welcoming 3,000 visitors through its doors over February half term and 95 per cent of rooms already snapped up for September’s Great North Run in NewcastleGateshead. But Geoff told Destination UK that getting the industry to work together has not always been easy. He explained: “The North East woke up about five or six years ago and thought it needed to be serious about tourism and see it as a career and not just a hobby. “Tourism is a notoriously fragmented industry. But in this area there is now an incredible amount of joined up thinking. People work together now and disregard themselves as

competitors.” Geoff also explained why the internet is becoming an increasingly important part of the tourism industry – and why businesses would be foolish to ignore it. He added: “We are seeing massive growth in online activity. We have noticed that 50 per cent of people who visit now do at least one thing online. “Consumers are getting more and more sophisticated and if you aren’t on the web in the next three to four years, you won’t have a business. The internet plays a vital part.” The chance to combine a city break with a spectacular coastline is proving a popular draw with

visitors to the North East. As is an increasingly packed events programme with major offerings including The Great North Run, the Evolution Festival and the Tall Ships Race in Hartlepool. “City breaks got NewcastleGateshead on the map but Durham has also really come forward. There has also been a lot of investment along the Northumberland coastline. “We also have the Great North Run, which is going out around the world with that iconic shot of the runners running across Tyne Bridge. We have 53,000 entries and have now successfully built a whole events programme around it.

“I am very confident about this year. We have lots of new products and are looking forward to a good summer season.”

Hard work ahead for Bamburgh Castle BAMBURGH was once the capital of Nor thumberland and Chris Calver t, the castle’s director is working hard to make it the county’s tourism capital. He said: “We have a fantastic venue here that we feel the groups market is missing out on and are working hard to encourage them to visit.” With packages involving preferential access, free introductor y talks and free guided tours (restrictions apply), the castle is a great venue. There is on site coach parking, catering providing quality meals and snacks and a gift shop with a strong bias to local gifts. The ever growing events programme and other quality visitor attractions in the area mean the castle can form

par t of a full and enter taining day out in Nor thumberland. The exciting news is that from November 2010 the castle will be open all year round. Chris added: “We recognised the fact that there is a market that is looking for quality destinations in the winter months and that the accommodation providers were offering some great deals. Hopefully we can work together to provide the groups market with a quality product that they want.”

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DESTINATIONPEAK DISTRICT AND DERBYSHIRE Visit Peak District and Derbyshire looks after an area which starts at the top of a national park and stretches down to include a national forest and about 100 tourist attractions. Christina Eccles found out how the tourism body keeps everyone happy.

Some of the world’s best outdoor acts will take to the streets of Derby in September as part of this year’s Derby Festé. The three-day festival will bring a variety of international and local artists together to entertain the crowds with spectacular live performances.

Enjoy a truly medieval experience at Haddon Hall FOR those who love to experience at first hand a rare example of untouched historical heritage, a visit to Haddon Hall in Derbyshire is not to be missed. The fortified medieval manor house, dating from the 12th century, maintains many of its original features and offers a fascinating insight into the life and traditions of England’s Tudor ancestry. The huge banqueting hall with its refectory table which entertained monarchy and noblemen of the day together with the kitchens where magnificent feasts were prepared and the long gallery, home to intricate tapestries which adorn the walls, give visitors a rare glimpse of the Tudors’ lifestyle. For more information contact: Tel: 01629 812855 email: info@haddonhall.co.uk

Area thriving despite the challenges HEAD of marketing and deputy chief executive David Thornton told Destination UK that tourism in the Peak District and Derbyshire is thriving – despite the challenges that come with marketing such a wide geographical area, range of attractions and number of accommodation providers. Within the whole of the East Midlands area, Visit Peak District and Derbyshire accounts for 45 per cent of the return on tourism investment – achieving a £13.5m return for a £470,000 marketing budget. The body was set up after the foot and mouth outbreak when local tourism experienced a downturn and David said it has taken them five years to achieve the goal of getting the destination recognised as

somewhere for the group travel market to go to. He explained: “As destination brands go, we are a spread out location which has always performed a little below our weight because we are so fragmented. The challenge for us with marketing is coming together to deliver a joined up destination. “That’s really important to us – it should always be the remit of tourist boards to champion their own destinations.” To get groups interested Visit Peak District and Derbyshire arranged familiarisation trips for group travel organisers to showcase the best of the area’s tourism industry and also set up a dedicated groups section on the website. Continued on

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New guide to show what’s on offer COACH tour operators and travel trade tour planners can enjoy a fresh taste of what the Peak District and Derbyshire has to offer thanks to a brand new guide launched by the area’s official tourist board. Visit Peak District & Derbyshire has published Groups Welcome to give a flavour of the wide range of tempting treats on offer – from accommodation, attractions and activities to a feast of food and drink, shopping, special events and festivals. Head of marketing and deputy chief executive David Thornton said: “Our new guide offers a host of ideas and inspiration to help tour operators and planners cherry pick the perfect itinerary to suit their target market. “We already have several sample itineraries on our travel trade web pages and will regularly be uploading new ones – so there’ll always be a new reason to visit and see the Peak District & Derbyshire in a different light.” Group tour organisers and travel trade professionals can also keep up to speed with new developments and events by signing up for its regular Tourism eBulletin.

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Discover Poole’s Cavern – Buxton’s hidden wonder TAKE a journey beneath the earth with our expert guides, explore the vast Limestone caverns and see how crystal Stalactites and Stalagmites have lined the chambers over millions of years. Become an Archaeologist in our ‘Big Dig’ exhibition and learn about our cave dwelling ancestors. Back above ground explore the beautiful country park woodlands and complete your day with a stroll to Grin Low and Solomon’s Temple viewpoint with superb views of the Peak District. Taste the Peak in the Cavern café with meals or snacks, cakes and coffee served all day. We also have picnic areas and safe play area for children and toddlers. For more information: Tel : 01298 26978 www.poolescavern.co.uk

Continued from Page 22 David added that last year’s ‘staycation’ boom helped them out by attracting the domestic tourism market and this has continued into 2010. He added: “In the past, people have maybe overlooked what is on their doorstep. Now what has started to happen is a sense that there is that ‘wow factor’ to be found closer to home. And we are doing well as one of the most iconic locations in Britain. “There is also that escapism value. I used to work in the theme park industry and noticed that when people strap themselves into a rollercoaster, they aren’t worrying about their bills or what’s going on in the economy. “They are transported to somewhere else. “What happens in a unique

location such as this is that you get a sense of it being somewhere you can escape to without it costing a fortune. This is appealing to people.”

Renishaw Hall – Derbyshire’s best kept secret HOME to the Sitwell family for nearly 400 years, hall tours enable you to see the spectacular collections of art and furniture acquired by generations of the family – including the famous literary trio Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell. 100 years ago, Sir George Sitwell created what is today one of the most important classical Italianate gardens in Britain. Ornamental ponds, a spectacular fountain, secret garden rooms, classical statues, overflowing borders and long vistas all feature strongly in these totally unique gardens. The courtyard contains the Sitwell museum, Gallery café and gift shop and an exhibition featuring the

amazing collections of Sir Osbert Sitwell, many items have never been seen before including works by Picasso, Rex Whistler, Dylan Thomas and Wilfred Owen. From December 8 – 18 you can visit Christmas at Renishaw and see the magnificent rooms in the hall decorated for the festive season. It is a magical sight and well worth a visit. Groups must pre book their visit by contacting the events office. A discounted entrance fee is given to groups and the organiser goes free. There is ample free coach parking. Renishaw is easily accessible as it is a few miles off junction 30 of the M1.

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Visit Chesterfield’s open air markets CHESTERFIELD is home to one of the country’s largest open-air markets. The bustling market stalls sell everything from cutlery to carpets. General Markets held every week on Monday, Friday and Saturday, Flea Market every Thursday and a Farmers’ Market on the second Thursday and last Sunday of every month. As well as visiting the market, take a tour up the famous ‘Crooked Spire’ of the Parish Church and enjoy the many extraordinary stories that are told. A visit to Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery will tell the story of Chesterfield from its beginnings as a Roman fort to the building of the ‘Crooked Spire’.

Derby – Where groups are at the heart DISCOVER Derby, offering a fantastic shopping and cultural scene, a great central location and the Peak District and Derbyshire on its doorstep. Step inside the luxurious shopping centre at Westfield Derby, with over 175 shops or wander around Derby’s charming Cathedral Quarter full of tasteful boutiques, relaxing coffee shops, bustling markets and real ale pubs. Take a guided tour around Derby Cathedral or a factory tour at Royal Crown Derby. Derby also boasts three free museums. The Sill Mill, sitting on the banks of the river forms part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. New for 2010, tour the restored Derby Roundhouse. Built in 1839, it was the first railway roundhouse in the UK.

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Experience a year round programme of festivals and events. The most spectacular is Derby Festé, a three-day free annual arts festival that lights up Derby city centre from September 24 – 26. For more details and itinerary ideas please contact Derby Tourism.

Gardens add colour to new information brochure LOCAL attraction Consall Hall Gardens provided a colourful backdrop to launch a new tourist information brochure. The new guide promotes the range of well dressings and gardens available for visits in the Peak District and Derbyshire area. The tourist board’s head of marketing David Thornton said: “As well as highlighting the ancient tradition of Well Dressing, unique to the Peak District, Derbyshire and Staffordshire Moorlands, our new guide also features some of the classic gardens, hidden gems, prize parks and gardening events on offer

throughout 2010. “Not only do we boast well-known gardens at places such as Chatsworth, Haddon Hall, Hardwick Hall near Chesterfield and Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire, we also have a lot of ‘secret’ treasures at locations like Renishaw Hall near Sheffield, the Burrows Garden near Ashbourne and here at Consall Hall. “Hopefully visitors will dip into our new brochure to discover more about the host of gardening-related places they can visit and events they can support this year across the area, right at the heart of the UK.”


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DESTINATIONPEAK DISTRICT AND DERBYSHIRE

New guide bids to attract campers to Peak District A NEW guide has been launched to highlight the Peak District and Derbyshire as a destination for caravanning and camping holidays. The area’s official tourist board has teamed up with The Camping and Caravanning Club, to produce the 34-page Camping and Caravanning Guide 2010. As well as tips on how to find the perfect camp site, the guide also includes a full list of quality graded campsites and their facilities and a map showing the Camping and Caravanning Club sites in the area.

There are also details of YHA Camping Barns – plus information about the area’s attractions, public transport and tourist information and visitor centres. Chief Executive at Visit Peak District and Derbyshire David James said: “As more and more people opt to holiday at home in the UK, whether for their main holiday or for more frequent short breaks, it’s a mine of information for anyone wanting to pitch their tent or park their caravan or motor home at a wide variety of value-for-money locations in the area.”

Riding through time

The Peak District played a starring role in a new Hollywood blockbuster filmed in the region. Dovedale featured prominently in the latest version of Robin Hood – starring Russell Crowe – with scenes for the film shot there over two days. The income generated from the filming will be used directly in the management and upkeep of Dovedale and the local economy also benefited as the film cast and crew stayed in local hotels and guest houses.

TAKE a tram ride through time at Crich Tramway Village in Derbyshire, home of The National Tramway Museum – an ideal destination for all ages. Visitors can ride our world renowned vintage trams through our unique period street and out into the open countryside for spectacular views, explore fascinating exhibitions and watch as trams are restored from our workshop viewing gallery. This captivating journey into history is made complete with a stroll on our fascinating woodland walk and sculpture trail and a trip to our unique Red Lion Pub, tearooms and shops. To find out more or make a booking call now on 01773 854321 or visit www.tramway.co.uk

Experience The Heights of Abraham WELCOME to one of the Peak District’s oldest and most popular days out, an attraction where stunning natural beauty is matched by human achievement and the historic blends seamlessly with the futuristic. Since first opening to visitors in 1780, the Heights of Abraham has remained one of the Peak District’s most appealing destinations. Visitors have travelled from all over the world to experience its unique blend of spectacular underground caverns, exhibitions, shops, play areas, picnic spots, café and summit bar all with stunning views in acres of beautiful woodland. In recent times, however, the Heights has become rightly famous for its landmark Cable Car system – the first of its kind in the whole of the British Isles. Added attractions are the “Heath and Heaven” and “Fossil Factory” displays, plus state of the art lighting in the Great Masson Cavern which reveals its magnitude as it has never been seen before. Not forgetting John the Miner who tells the story of a day in the life of a 17th century lead miner in the Great Rutland Cavern.

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The Budget and tourism By Kurt Janson, Policy Director, Tourism Alliance THERE was one good bit of news for the tourism sector in the budget – that the Government is going to reinstate the FHL Rules for selfcatering properties in recognition that these are trading businesses in the same way as Bed and Breakfasts and guesthouses rather than property investment businesses such as buy to let properties. While there is a consultation to come out on tightening the rules that apply to ensure that selfcatering properties are run as businesses and not disguised second homes, this is a major step forward in recognizing a sector that provides £3bn in revenue for rural and seaside communities. The importance of this announcement is demonstrated by the increase in Capital Gains Tax to 28 per cent for non-business assets. However, against this gain there are a number of very worrying aspects to the budget for the tourism industry. High among these is the future level of central Government investment in the tourism sector. In attempting to balance the books, the Government has announced that the level of funding for “unprotected Government

departments” will decrease by an average of 25 per cent over the next four years. It goes without saying that DCMS is an unprotected Government department so if this is applied evenly across all the department’s sponsored bodies we would expect to see the Grant-In-Aid for VisitBritain and VisitEngland reduced to around £22.1m and £7.6m respectively. This is a considerable decrease from the £47m that the two bodies received 10 years ago and represents a decrease in real terms of about 55 per cent over this period. It is worth noting that between 1997 and 2010, DCMS’s budget increased by 65 per cent. So VisitBritain and VisitEngland are now being required to share the pain even though they never shared the gain. The further concern regarding central government funding for tourism development and promotion is the uncertainty surrounding the future of the RDAs. In the Coalition Programme the new Government stated that it would “support the creation of Local Enterprise Partnerships – joint local authoritybusiness bodies brought forward by local authorities themselves to promote local economic development – to replace Regional Development Agencies (RDAs).

These may take the form of the existing RDAs in areas where they are popular”. Questioned on what this meant in reality, Vince Cable suggested the northern RDAs could remain while he saw little need for the RDAs in the more prosperous South East. The Budget document, however, states that “The Government will enable locally-elected leaders, working with business, to lead local economic development. As part of this change, Regional Development Agencies will be abolished through the Public Bodies Bill” and “consider the most appropriate framework of incentives for local authorities to support growth, including exploring options for business rate and council tax incentives, which would allow local authorities to reinvest the benefits of growth into local communities”. Now, this may mean that some of the Northern RDAs simply change their guise, but even if this is the case, there seems a strong likelihood that the central Government funding that was channelled through the RDAs will be significantly reduced and local authorities (communities) will be given the tools to tax and invest locally through Local Enterprise Partnerships if they deem tourism to be sufficiently important to the local economy. As well as the likelihood of a

Kurt Jansen reduction in regional tourism expenditure as a result, this presents a further problem with regard to co-ordination. VisitEngland have just co-ordinated the development of a national strategy for tourism development in England (something that has been sorely missing for almost 10 years) with the agreement of the RDAs. If the RDAs are abolished and the responsibility for regional tourism development and promotion is passed to LEPs, there needs to be a strong mechanism to tie LEP expenditure into the national strategy. Without this, not only will we have reduced public expenditure on tourism, but what we are left with will be spent in a way that is uncoordinated and inefficient as well.

Conference focuses on new decade in tourism By Alison Cryer, chairman of the Tourism Society THE 2010 Tourism Society Conference, sponsored by The Carrier Group, returned to London after a five-year absence to the iconic Lord's Cricket Ground to consider A New Decade in Tourism, attended by a record number of delegates. The conference scene was set by a list of major events over the previous decade affecting travel and tourism, which sadly read like a list of natural disasters and terrorist attacks splattered with the big four travel company mergers and technological advances from galactic travel plans, bigger planes and bigger cruise ships to Facebook and Twitter. An entertaining and thought provoking opening address by Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, covered the importance to the industry of teaching Geography in schools, gaining an add-on to the Shengen Visa for the UK, the reorganisation of the RDAs and lobbying for tourism apprenticeships. Ellwood stated that under the new Coalition Government with Jeremy Hunt MP Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and John Penrose MP, Minister for Tourism and Heritage, the UK tourism industry has the potential to create a £7bn 26 boost to the economy which will

help to bridge the budget deficit that the country faces. Referring to Hunt's speech the Friday before, Ellwood went on to say that this will take the industry from the fifth largest to the fourth largest in the UK – a challenge given by the Secretary of State to the industry to achieve. Q&As ensued with debate on the advantages of the new daylight saving proposals, of which Tobias is well known to the industry as a great advocate. The Lighter Later Conference has since reviewed research stating that a change to GMT+2 would generate £3b in tourism revenue which might help the industry meet its challenge. The following plenary session on 'Optimising Tourism – Strategies, Policy, Funding and Delivery' heard Sandie Dawe emphasise VisitBritain's inbound tourism priorities to market via competitiveness, and apply SMART marketing strategies such as working with strong non-industry brands while aiming to achieve the PR ROI target from the Olympic games of £1bn in positive publicity. James Berresford put VisitEngland's new Strategic Framework for Tourism at the top of his list and its relevance to Government, how to deliver the priorities with less, and how to achieve effective coordination. Looking at sustainability and biodiversity Lucy Vincent, director of marketing, education and

communications, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, told delegates that in the UK a third of high priority species and two thirds of habitats are declining and that since 1994 despite the biodiversity action plan it is thought that five per cent of the high priority species have become extinct. A shocking fact yet tourism revenue can help wildlife centres such as those of the WWT to protect habitats for the future. Justin Francis, chief executive, Responsibletourism.com, went on to explain that consumers are now looking for "Experience for Money" rather than "Value for money" and in particular authenticity. This shift change, however, could be to the detriment of wildlife if not handled correctly. The first of four breakout sessions entitled "New Media and Marketing for Tomorrow", debated how far technology could go. Dawn Sims of Carter Communications told the audience that mobile phone internet access is the future and that apps need to be created for the UK tourism attractions and events. The second session was on 'Continual Professional Development (CPD), Training and Education and the Need for Increased CPD as the Workforce's Age Increases Over the Next Decade.' Martin-Christian Kent, research and policy director, People 1st, told delegates that the State of the Nation report (commissioned by People 1st) showed that many

employees do not have the skills for the jobs that they are doing and that there is a bottom line advantage to employers to invest in training for their employees. Session three looked at 'Conferences and Events in the Digital Age'. The use of social media was the hot topic of debate but Arran Coole CEO, ASP, issued a word of warning: 'using Twitter can very easily be done incorrectly and you can end up talking to yourself on a global basis'. At the final session focusing on 'Politics, Philosophy and Economics for Small Tourism Businesses', Chris Wikeley FTS, chairman of The Tourism Consultants Network, concluded that the tourism industry is not fragmented, it is diverse, individuality is its greatest strength and yet at the same time its greatest weakness. It was not all work and no play; delegates had had the chance either to go on a fascinating tour of the Olympic sites (which are already seeing the benefits of regeneration money), or to watch a Twenty20 cricket game at Lord's which saw Middlesex defeat Essex by just five runs, and attendees of the conference dinner, held in the magnificent Marylebone Cricket Club, enjoyed an entertaining and reflective after dinner speech by Bernard Donoghue, former VisitBritain Government affairs officer, on life after VB and a Labour government.


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Destination UK (July/Aug 2010)