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Issue 34 May/June 2010 £2.75

Trade-only BOBI moving to Birmingham By Christina Eccles THE Best of Britain and Ireland show will be moved to the NEC next year as a two-day trade-only event, organisers have revealed. This year’s event took place at London’s Olympia in March and although post-event figures showed a five per cent increase in visitor numbers for the trade days, the consumer days struggled – with visitor numbers dropping from 9,237 to 5,296. Following feedback from visitors and exhibitors, a steering committee – made up of over 40 industry representatives – and organisers BoB Events met to discuss the future of the event, making the decision to move next year’s show from London’s Olympia to Birmingham. It will again take place in March – to coincide with British Tourism Week – with the committee also discussing a biennial rotation of venue and a return to London in 2012. Managing director of BoB Events Rob Mackenzie said: “We welcome the steering committee’s recommendation to return to the NEC in 2011. We have always believed that biennial rotation between London and Birmingham could potentially provide an optimal solution to the needs of

the market and we’re confident that we can maintain the growth in trade visitor numbers and quality when we return to the Midlands next year.” Key recommendations included:  The extension of the successful domestic hosted buyer programmes for coach operators and group travel organisers.  The re-introduction of a simplified appointment system to allow the pre-scheduling of meetings at BoBI. The organisers are also undertaking research to examine the attitudes of the domestic travel trade, particularly amongst non-visitors to BoBI, to identify how to make the show more appealing to trade visitors. Rob added: “With the quality of the BoBI trade audience enhanced by the domestic buyers programme, trade visitor numbers 27 per cent higher than BTTF 2008, the largestever overseas buying delegation and the best-ever levels of trade audience satisfaction, I believe that BoBI has strong foundations on which to develop.”  What do you think should be done to secure the future of the show? Send your comments to or contact our editorial team on 01226 734463.

Brits look for UK breaks

The owner of a Stratford-Upon-Avon attraction has set up a new service for tourists following the sudden closure of Shakespeare Country. Dave Matthews of Seek the Magic Org – which operates attractions including the Creaky Cauldron museum – created Not Just Shakespeare to ensure visitors to the town could get any information they needed. Dave said it would be ‘appalling’ for a town like Stratford not to have a tourist information service and he had to step in and do something. Full story Page 3

BRITISH holidaymakers are looking closer to home for their breaks as recent disruptions in air travel make them more reluctant to go abroad. According to travel search site Skyscanner, massive ash cloud disruption which led to the five day closure of airspace over much of Europe, boosted May bank holiday bookings to domestic locations such as London and Belfast. Skyscanner co-founder Barry Smith said this could be due to people looking for ‘safer’ destinations because in the event of more disruption, it would be easier for them to get home. He said: “Top favourites such as Malaga and Alicante have not dropped in popularity at all so overall confidence is strong. “However, we have seen an increase in popularity of some destinations closer to home – London, Dublin and Belfast all shot up in popularity in the last couple of weeks – and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.”

Enjoy discovering over 300 amazing places to visit across England, Wales and Northern Ireland with the National Trust. There are historic houses in all shapes and sizes, captivating castles crammed with treasures from across the centuries, as well as gardens for every season, tours for every taste and a host of events every month. Your group will feel as though its wandered into past times when they first see the vast ruins of Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. This twelfth century Cistercian abbey is listed as a World Heritage Site and is the start of a wonderful stroll through one of the country’s finest Georgian water gardens of calm lakes, canals, temples and towers. For an extraordinary glimpse into the world of the upper classes in the 1930s, visit Upton House and Gardens in Warwickshire. Period

Explore one of the most inventive and influential gardens of the twentieth century at Hidcote in Gloucestershire. Discover the ‘Arts and Crafts’ design where avenues lead into small pockets of old roses, rare plants and trees from all over world. Groups can also enjoy croquet or tennis here, or simply add to their own garden with lots on offer in the plant shop.

NTPL Nick Meers

NTPL Andrew Butler

newspapers, games and overheard conversations are just some of the new features which bring the spirit of the house to life. Or in Surrey step into the shoes of the charismatic owner of Ham House, the Duchess of Lauderdale. Enjoy her riverside mansion where her collection of art, textile and furniture offer a snapshot of Stuart fashions and styles.

Plus for groups that want something that little bit different to enhance their visit, we’ve produced a guide specifically focused on Special Interest Tours. From going behind the scenes of some of our most atmospheric houses to exclusive tours led by our expert guides, including head gardeners; there’s something for ever group pastime. All the information you need to plan your next group day out can be found in our indispensable Groups Guide, inspiring Special Interest Tours and dedicated trade newsletters. You can order your free copies online at or contact the travel trade team directly on 0844 800 2329 or email *Calls provided by BT will be charged at 5 pence per minute. A Call Set-Up Fee of 8 pence per call applies to calls from residential lines. Mobile and other providers costs may vary.




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New service to bridge gap left by organisation By Christina Eccles A VITAL new service has been launched in Stratford-upon-Avon following concerns that the sudden demise of Shakespeare Country could harm tourism in the area. Not Just Shakespeare has been set up by the team behind the town’s award winning Creaky Cauldron museum, after the withdrawal of funding to Shakespeare Country – the organisation responsible for promoting the area – forced it to cease trading and two local tourist information centres to close. The new service includes a detailed website, supported by a telephone information service and leaflets on local attractions set up in the museum, which together aim to provide visitors with comprehensive information on what to see and do in the area. According to Dave Matthews – CEO of founding company Seek the Magic Org – it was unthinkable for such a high profile destination to not be able to offer an information

service to visitors and so they took matters into their own hands. He explained: “We have attractions that need to be promoted and Shakespeare Country was a major form of promotion for us. So we set this up as a direct response to there no longer being a tourism service in Stratford. “For a town like this not to have a tourist information service is appalling and we couldn’t allow that to continue.” Seek the Magic Org already owned a website, so was able to act quickly when Shakespeare Country ceased trading at the end of March, to ensure the town didn’t miss out on footfall for the peak Easter period and Shakespeare’s birthday celebrations. And so far, the service is proving to be very popular. Dave added: “We have had brilliant feedback and people have been very positive – we have put a lot of effort into getting it out there and visitor statistics and hits have been very high. Not just Shakespeare is here to stay.”

The Lennon Wall in Prague

Beatles link two cities LIVERPOOL attraction the Beatles Story has teamed up with the National Museum in Prague to explore Beatles themed links between the two cities. The museum will host a special exhibition – Beatlemania which opens in June – and while in Prague, the Beatles Story will continue to promote Liverpool as a city break destination for tourists from the Czech capital. Managing director of the Beatles Story Jerry Goldman said: “We are delighted to be

working with the National Museum in Prague and this is an ideal opportunity for the Beatles Story to promote Liverpool to a nation of Beatles fans. As well as providing the museum with memorabilia we are encouraging Czechs to visit Liverpool for an exciting cultural city break. With our forthcoming John Lennon Tribute Season opening in October, we are determined that foreign visitors are aware of what the city of Liverpool has to offer and how accessible we are.”

Entertainment news in Centrestage starting on Page 14

Forecast bleak for weathergirl Wincey Page 18

Destination Scotland Destination Yorkshire

Pages 8-9 Pages 18-22

Contacts EDITORIAL Andrew Harrod group editor 01226 734639 Louise Cordell reporter 01226 734694 Christina Eccles reporter 01226 734463 Mary Ferguson reporter 01226 734712


A tourist attraction in West Sussex is to host its first ever music festival this summer – featuring three nights of entertainment in a spectacular open air setting. Wakehurst Place, which is owned by Kew Gardens, is following in the footsteps of Kew’s popular Summer Swing concerts by staging events against the backdrop of its 16th century Elizabethan mansion and ornamental gardens. Organisers have secured acts including Katherine Jenkins, pictured above, with the National Symphony Orchestra, The Magic of Motown and the Bootleg Beatles and hope that the concerts will become an annual event. Kew’s head of venue hire and commercial events Nickola Savage said: “After the success of Summer Swing at Kew, we thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase Wakehurst Place. It is something different for the area and a unique setting and atmosphere.” To stage the concerts, the venue is working with Musical Concerts Ltd – a company which has built up vast experience in this area after working on concerts at similar venues such as RHS Wisley.

Judith Halkerston – group deputy editor – Stewart Holt – studio manager – Kyle Wilkinson – graphic designer Laura Blackburn – graphic designer ADVERTISING Rachel Wood product manager 01226 734611 Andrew Loades sales executive 01226 734634 Tony Barry sales and marketing director 01226 734605/01226 734333 CIRCULATION Kelly Tarff 01226 734695 Fax: 01226 734477


Industry urged to maximise Olympic opportunities OLYMPIC gold medallist Jonathan Edwards has urged the tourism industry to maximise the opportunities which could come from the 2012 Games. Jonathan – who is now a LOCOG board member and deputy chair of the London Nations and Regions Group – told visitors at this year’s Best of Britain and Ireland trade forum that the London Olympics could act as a springboard for a whole range of benefits – sporting, social and

economic – and it is up to UK tourism to take advantage of them. He said: “The tourism benefit of the Games is absolutely crucial. The welcome we give can really make a difference and the tourism industry is an important partner in that. “This is a real opportunity for the industry to make a statement. Here is a chance to make a mark and leave a lasting legacy.”





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Tourism plan may bring 225,000 jobs By Christina Eccles

Twycross Zoo is celebrating two new arrivals – snow leopards Irma and Suou. Once the pair have settled in, they will be introduced to each other and moved to a new Himalayan themed enclosure in the zoo’s new visitor welcome centre.

AN action plan has been created for tourism in England which could see the industry deliver an additional £50bn in visitor spend and provide 225,000 new jobs in the next 10 years. VisitEngland has launched the first Strategic Tourism Framework for 10 years, which highlights what needs to be done to maximise the tourism industry’s contribution to England’s economy, employment and quality of life. To ensure England retains and grows market share in an increasingly competitive industry, the detailed 10 year plan has been drawn up to provide a focus for the industry to work towards. According to Visit England, the achievement of this growth would see tourism significantly outstripping the performance of most other major sectors of the national economy. However a ‘no growth’ scenario for the tourism industry would result in significant job losses and the demise of a wide range of tourism

businesses – so it is vital the action plan succeeds. The plan is made up of various programmes and activities designed to boost tourism in England including events for the Cultural Olympiad, a new online sustainability programme and research around existing quality schemes. VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said: “England is a fantastic country whether visitors have a couple of hours to spare, a long weekend, or a two week holiday. “Tourism needs and indeed deserves much greater recognition for the positive impacts it brings to the economy in terms of income, skills and jobs. It is an excellent route into employment at all levels which is why the prospect of increasing the number of jobs the industry supports is so exciting. This framework strives for an even higher standard of quality and service so that we improve our offering, increase jobs, spend and growth and champion a competitive industry.”

Theme park package demand set to grow DEMAND for packages for the UK’s best theme parks will grow this year, according to experts at Superbreak. In the last 12 months, the operator has booked over 15,000 customers through agents on to theme park breaks and expects this figure to rise by a further 20 per cent during the next year as customers seek to be among the first to experience this year’s newest rides.

Sales office manager Chris Cundall said: “New rides and attractions are a great way of driving repeat business and offer a valid reason to visit the park again. Staying overnight means it is possible to enjoy two days in the theme parks and get the most out of a visit. “All package breaks are fully commissionable to agents and are a great thing to promote in the window.”

New website designed for minimum effort


THE Tour Booker is a new website designed to help online customers find the right tour with minimum effort thus helping tour operators get more bookings without paying high agent fees. We need tour operators to join us and place tours on our purpose designed and easy to use booking system. The more companies that join, the better the site will work so ultimately more backsides on seats. You have total control of how many and what tours you put on and the accompanying information provided therein. There is a set format for every tour entered and you decide how many seats you wish to allocate. The Tour Booker is completely independent so no preferential treatment, also no tour operator will be able to advertise beyond their tour entries, so creating a level playing field. It will only take a few minutes to sign up. The site is live now.

Local hoteliers have joined forces with Brighton and Hove City Council to kick start citywide preparations for summer tourists. With all equipment and paint provided by the council, more than 30 representatives from hotels, guest houses and B&Bs worked for three days to paint sections of the resort’s famous seafront railings. This comes in addition to £600,000 agreed in the council’s budget to restore railings and shelters and carry out other improvements along the city’s seafront.

Stoneleigh selected STONELEIGH Park has been selected as the venue for the Great Exhibition in 2012. The event will take place between June and August 2012 showcasing the very best of Britain and will be an opportunity to see, in one place, all that is great about British culture and society. It will run for over 90 days and is anticipated to attract more than 3m visitors.

Chief executive Brian Warren said: “We are absolutely delighted, hugely excited and immensely proud to be hosting The Great Exhibition 2012. “Stoneleigh Park offers a 1,000 plus acre site with the utilities, the infrastructure, as well as unequalled flexibility, ambition, and spirit to embrace any challenge and succeed and we are looking forward to working with the team.”




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Tourists go wild over nature ... NATURE and wildlife tourism is growing in popularity as visitors look for a meaningful experience on their holidays, according to experts. Operators running nature based holidays have revealed that the escapism and emotional attachment which tourists get from this type of holiday is encouraging them to return. According to figures, country and heritage tourism makes a £20.6b contribution to the UK and one area leading the way is Scotland, where visitors have the chance to get close to some of the country’s most spectacular natural landscapes and local wildlife Sally Dowden – who runs tour operator Speyside Wildlife – said: “Research shows that people see Scotland as a place for those who are interested in nature and wildlife. “The media has had a huge affect – with programmes such as Planet Earth and Springwatch – and that gives us huge potential to capitalise on an increasing interest in nature tourism. “Scotland is perfect for nature based tourism. It doesn’t have to be difficult or strenuous – some

people take a very laid back approach, such as a wildlife watching boat trip. “It is also a group activity. No matter what the size of the group is, people are looking for an authenticity in their experience. “Wildlife is unpredictable. You could go out and see nothing. But one of the most fantastic things about wildlife tourism is that you always exceed expectations.” But experts have warned that this type of tourism also brings with it a serious message about sustainability to ensure that nature tourism doesn’t have a negative impact on the very environment which tourists are wanting to see. Duncan Mackay from Natural England added: “This market is what overseas visitors want to experience. But we need care and forethought to ensure we don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg.” To ensure Britain’s natural environment isn’t damaged, operators and visitors are being encouraged to be as environmentally friendly as possible to keep their carbon footprint to a minimum.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is hosting a two-day event which will transport visitors into the world of steam. The Celebration of Steam will include displays of traction engines and road locomotives, steam wagons, boats and ride-on railways as well as a whole host of Victorian dockyard characters.

Hollywood actor Robert Pattinson has joined the list of stars on display at Madame Tussauds in London. To mark his debut a group of his biggest fans were invited to be the first to step into his exclusive VIP room to see him on display. Madame Tussauds’ spokesman Liz Edwards said: “R-Pattz is one of the hottest celebs on the planet. We are delighted to be able to give them the chance to cosy up with their idol here at Madame Tussauds and judging by the reactions of the first to meet him, he is set to top our ‘most kissed list of celebrities’ very quickly.”





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Cawdor Castle


Irish boyband headlines Scottish castle’s first concert By Christina Eccles AN HISTORIC Scottish castle will host its first ever outdoor concert this year starring one of the world’s biggest bands. Chart topping boyband Westlife will play a gig at Cawdor Castle near Inverness in August after the venue entered into an exclusive five year deal with promoters CK Events. The company – which is also bringing Rod Stewart to Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s football

ground in July – will stage the Westlife concert this year followed by two concerts every year for the next four. About 4,000 tickets for the 10,000 capacity event were snapped up in the first hour of going on sale and the castle’s administrator David Broadfoot said Cawdor will provide the perfect backdrop for the concert. He said: “The castle is open between May 1st and the first Sunday in October and we have about 95,000 visits in that period.

But you have to look for new income streams all the time. “It is very exciting. We want to take Cawdor out of the pack of castles and lead that pack. It can only go from strength to strength.” But David added that the event is not out to compete with Scotland’s strong line up of festivals but instead it is bringing bands to the area which local people would not normally be able to see without travelling to an arena such as Glasgow’s SECC.

He added: “The key thing is this is not a festival. There are plenty already in the Highlands such as Belladrum and Rockness. And because there is no camping, the whole local area can benefit, such as B&Bs and hotels. “The event will put big money into the local area and gives us PR we couldn’t normally afford.” The castle, which is the home of the Dowager Countess Cawdor, was also the venue for Take That star Mark Owen’s wedding last year.

A major new attraction aimed at the groups and coach tour markets has been opened by the London Bridge Experience and The London Tombs. The new £750,000 interactive set ensures visitors receive an accurate experience of what life used to be like on London Bridge, led by characters in costume. Marketing manager Geraldine Huitric said: “This large new area gives us the ability to cope with groups of any size and we will be working closely with our group travel organiser and coach tour operator partners to make the most of this great opportunity for them.”

Cruise firm offers new experiences


LIVERPOOL’S Yellow Boat Cruise has teamed up with local tourism businesses to create a new experience for visitors wanting to see the city by water. The attraction has joined forces with wine specialist Vinea and Italian restaurant Gusto to design a range of packages for tourists wanting to enjoy a tour of Liverpool’s South Docks. To complement the Yellow Boat Heritage Cruise, passengers can choose their own treat, including a two-course meal or a wine tasting session to complete the experience.

£10million funding boost for tourism in Blackpool TOURISM in Blackpool is to benefit from £10m of new funding as part of a new regeneration programme, which could bring an extra 800,000 visitors to the town every year. Global visitor attractions operator, Merlin Entertainments has been appointed by Blackpool Council to manage the redevelopment and operations of the iconic Blackpool Tower complex and Louis Tussauds Waxworks. New features will include a

dungeon attraction in the tower complex and the redevelopment of Louis Tussauds into a second UK Madame Tussauds. The investment programme – which begins in the Autumn – is set to transform the resort and establish it as a world class family destination for the future. Merlin Entertainments’ chief executive Nick Varney said: “This is a very innovative and ground breaking initiative by Blackpool

Council, and a measure of just how seriously they take the regeneration of the town. We are delighted to be playing a key role. From 2011 no other UK European centre other than London will be able to offer such a broad selection of international attraction brands. This will help take what is already the best loved, and in our view most iconic, seaside destinations in Europe into the premier league as an exceptional new family holiday destination.”

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 (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 Japanese armour image courtesy of The Royal Armouries.




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DESTINATIONSCOTLAND Scottish tourism defied the recession last year thanks to clever marketing and the success of its year of Homecoming. Christina Eccles spoke to Visit Scotland’s chief executive Philip Riddle who explained why the positive outlook is set to continue this year ...

Homecoming helps Scottish tourism defy the recession SCOTLAND’S year of Homecoming saw the whole of the Scottish tourism industry come together to celebrate the best of the country’s events and tourism industries. A year long programme of activities celebrating all things Scottish took place up and down the country throughout 2009. And although final figures have not yet been unveiled, a large return on investment is expected. Philip explained: “2009 was a good year in the context of the economic recession and tourism has done better than most industries. Tourism in Scotland held up pretty well, which was down to three facts – the exchange rate, people holidaying closer to home and our year of Homecoming “But we had to take advantage of these trends with our

marketing. Homecoming was very good. For a relatively modest investment of £5.5m, we expect to add value of £44m “But what’s more important is that it was a great example of industries working closely together and joining up their products, with events taking place all over the country. We now hope to take that forward.” Philip revealed that the power of a year long, nationwide programme – brought together under one banner – proved to be a great selling point and something which VisitScotland is hoping to build on. He added: “We are going to have another year of Homecoming in four to five years and in between, themed years. “The theme this year – running from May to May – will be the year of food and drink.”

The organisation has also recently launched the £2m Perfect Day campaign, which will also have a strong food and drink element – encouraging visitors to sample local produce and restaurants and take part in a coastal food and drink trail. Philip added Visit Scotland’s marketing focus is shifting – with the organisation focusing on marketing detailed itineraries to create the ‘perfect day’ in Scotland. “Looking at the market, we can see similar trends continuing into 2010. We believe there will still be an advantage from the weak pound and people staying closer to home and we are playing into that with our marketing. “I am confident we are in a strong position. Tourism is a strong pillar of the economy in Scotland.”

Philip Riddle

Festival impact to be measured in research project

£400k for Loch Lomondshire


NEW funding worth £400,000 has been allocated to help protect and enhance some of the most popular locations around Loch Lomondside. The funding – provided by the National Park Authority, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) – will support a range of measures including site improvements, traffic management and improved visitor facilities.

It was announced by environment minister Roseanna Cunningham on a visit to Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. She said: “We have some of the most spectacular, unspoilt landscapes in the world, including our iconic national parks which attract thousands of tourists a year and are essential for our rural economic development and recreation.

“But welcoming millions of visitors every years means that this beautiful location is subject to a considerable amount of wear and tear – and it unfortunately attracts a small number of people who pay scant attention to the environment. The National Park Authority, working with key partners, has long term plans to make sure we keep areas in the park special for generations to come.”

THE impact which the Edinburgh festivals have on the city and Scotland as a whole are to be measured in a new research project. The project, which will measure the impact of all 12 Edinburgh Festivals, will look at the economic benefits as well as media profile, social and cultural benefits and environmental outcomes. The work has been commissioned by six Scottish partners including EventScotland, City of Edinburgh Council and Festivals Edinburgh. EventScotland’s chief operating officer Paul Bush said: “Measurement in the events industry is tremendously challenging and yet it is absolutely vital to the ongoing success of events in Scotland. The Edinburgh Festivals are, collectively, one of our biggest assets, attracting massive audiences year on year. In 2010, we will start to gain a clearer understanding of just how great an asset the festivals are to Scotland which will, in turn, help us determine the best ways to ensure they flourish for many years to come. “Potentially one of the most groundbreaking areas of work will be the measurement of the social impacts of the festival events, both individually and together. “This will be an incredibly complex area to explore and one which will potentially shape Scotland’s future relationship with the Edinburgh Festivals. This research will, essentially, give us the most comprehensive analysis of the festivals we have ever had; it’s a hugely exciting piece of work.”




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Tourism business must be pro-active and well-prepared By Christina Eccles THERE are many opportunities for tourism in Scotland to capitalise on – providing businesses are well prepared and pro-active, according to the new chairman of Visit Scotland. Dr Mike Cantlay’s role will involve helping the industry grow and making the most of chances both in the UK and in the international market. And he told Destination UK that tourism in Scotland is a vital industry which can benefit the economy both in the short and longer term. He said: “We have aspirations for significant growth but the recession has blown us off course. I want to help to find the tools and look for step changes that will transform the industry. “Tourism is huge – over 200,000 people are employed in our industry. It is also sustainable. This shows with how it performs in a recession. The longer term ambition is to seize upon these step changes to achieve sustainable growth.” He also said that Scottish tourism could also find positives from the recession if they approach it with the right attitude. He added: “Scotland has huge

Dr Mike Cantlay opportunities in the short term and the recession has opened up huge opportunities internationally. “Also, the ‘staycation’ phenomenon will be here to stay. Brits, having stayed home last year, will have seen what they have been missing in their homeland. They may have had such a good time last year, they will want to continue their voyage of discovery. Holidaying at home will become established. “Scotland is in a great position. My greatest fear is that there are businesses in Scotland who don’t see it coming. “The opportunities are there but businesses must be aggressive and attack the market. It will be a slightly patchy year but tourism will lead the Scottish economy for years to come.”

Over 200 exhibitors showcase their services THE best of the Scottish tourism industry gathered at Glasgow’s SECC for this year’s VisitScotland Expo. Organised by Scotland’s national tourism agency, the two-day event attracted over 200 exhibitors keen to showcase their tourism services and attractions. Over 800 international and UK buyers were present at the show and according to figures, the number of appointments made between buyers and

exhibitors and between exhibitors rose by almost 17 per cent on last year to a total of 4,684. Visitors also had the option to join a spectacular Fire and Ice networking event at Xscape Braehead where they were treated to a ferry ride down the River Clyde to reach the venue, live Scottish music and entertainment and the opportunity to try out Xscape’s range of activities.

Hotel chain has nine new Scottish sites in pipeline PREMIER Inn is expanding its presence in Scotland – with nine new Scottish sites in the pipeline. Parent company Whitbread is investing over £42m to increase the total number of Premier Inns in

Scotland from 53 to 62. Locations for the new hotels include Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dumbarton and Inverness and they will be opening in phases from Autumn 2010 to Spring 2012.

Visitors to the Queen Mother’s former home, the Castle of Mey will be treated to even more spectacular views thanks to the completion of a new turret. The Castle of Mey Trust launched its £35,000 appeal to build the turret in the South East corner of the walled garden 11 months ago and corporate sponsors joined individual benefactors in buying a brick to help achieve the fundraising target. It was unveiled at a ceremony by Anne Dunnett, the Lord Lieutenant of Caithness.





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DESTINATIONWILTSHIRE Left: Stonehenge and, right, Salisbury Cathedral

With flagship attractions such as Stonehenge and Salisbury, Wiltshire is positioning itself as one of Britain’s best kept destination secrets. Christina Eccles spoke to Visit Wiltshire’s head of partnership Alun Williams to find out more ...

Mixed fortunes for Wiltshire in 2009 TOURISM in Wiltshire reported a mixed 2009 with some areas performing better than others. Last year’s trends included the ‘staycation’, people booking their breaks later and shorter length stays. This year, the team at Visit Wiltshire are feeling positive about the coming months – with Alun revealing to Destination UK how they plan to target visitors. He said: “Last year from feedback from our members we discovered that generally speaking, attractions, bed and breakfasts and camping and caravanning had a good year. “The sector that found it most

difficult was hotels. The business traveller and conferencing sector of the market was the hardest hit but a lot did turn their attention to the leisure market to help offset the drop in business travel.” Visit Wiltshire now has over 400 members and a wider geographical spread across the county than ever before. Brochure requests are up over 80 per cent on last year – and to capitalise on this, discounted vouchers have been included within the brochures for local attractions. According to Alun, one of the most important markets for Visit Wiltshire is day visitors and they

are using the area’s best known brands to try and highlight Wiltshire as a destination for day visits and short breaks. He added: “The day visitor market is very important to us. 65 per cent of our visitor spend comes from day visitors. We are working on a long term business plan to maintain the number of day visitors but increase the proportion of staying visitors. “We are using brands like Salisbury and Stonehenge to position Wiltshire as one of Britain’s best kept destination secrets. “Our key objective is to increase visitor spend in Wiltshire, to

deliver more business for members and more economic benefit.” Visit Wiltshire’s website is also a key marketing tool where users are able to post their experience of a break in Wiltshire online – providing a key resource for people thinking of holidaying in the area. “People are finding the website useful as a method of communication and personal recommendation is a powerful and important marketing tool for us “There seems to be an increased interest in Wiltshire. We expect it to be a late booking market but research suggests there is optimism about this season.”

Last year’s festival

Unusual venues chosen for Salisbury arts festival performances


OVER 120 cultural performances and events will take place in Wiltshire later this year as part of the Salisbury International Arts Festival. As part of the festival, some of the area’s most inspiring venues – including Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral – will be used as performance spaces. Highlights from the festival’s programme include Shakespeare’s

Globe Theatre performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Old Wardour Castle and the European Union Chamber Orchestra with poet Andrew Motion performing in Wilton’s Italianate church. The Festival, which last year was named the 2009 South West Tourist Event of the Year, is the biggest festival in the South West and last year, over 23,000 people enjoyed free events at the festival.

Kensington palace



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With the start of a new decade, Kensington Palace is undergoing a wonderful transformation as June 2010 marks the start of a major £12 million project to transform the visitor experience of one of London’s most iconic landmarks, Kensington Palace. Whilst this ambitious project is in progress, the palace will remain open for daytime visitors to explore The Enchanted Palace and will continue to offer private evening hire. The transformation will include the complete re-presentation of Kensington Palace as a palace for everyone with transformed visitor facilities and events to celebrate 2012 and Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. From 26 March 2010, Kensington Palace will become The Enchanted Palace in a unique exhibition combining fashion, performance and dazzling spectacle to reveal Kensington’s magnificent State Apartments in a magical new light. Acclaimed UK theatre company, WILDWORKS will cast a spell over the palace, creating a mysterious and atmospheric world for visitors to explore.

Against the backdrop of the King’s and Queen’s apartments, leading fashion designers Vivienne Westwood, William Tempest, Stephen Jones, Boudicca, Aminaka Wilmont and illustrator/set designer Echo Morgan will each create spectacular installations, inspired by the stories of the princesses who once lived at Kensington – Mary, Anne, Caroline, Charlotte, Victoria, Margaret and Diana. These extraordinary contemporary designs will be displayed alongside historic items from the Royal Collection and Kensington Palace’s Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, together with two dresses worn by Diana, Princess of Wales and Princess Margaret. For help and advice in organising group visits to any of the historic royal palaces, contact the Groups and Travel Trade Team on +44 (0) 20 3166 6311 or email




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The biggest issues facing the UK tourism industry were discussed by a political panel at this year’s Best of Britain and Ireland trade forum. Destination UK went along to find out more ...

Panel tackle biggest issues facing UK tourism Minister for culture, creative industries and tourism, Margaret Hodge “It is extremely difficult to persuade the treasury that expenditure today means investment tomorrow. “But we do all recognise the central importance of the tourism industry and over the last three years, we have invested in excess of £2bn in our tourism industry. “We have to choose our priorities. Anyone who says there is an immediate future in the reduction of VAT [on accommodation] is setting up a false perspective. “I try and pursue the objectives I have a realistic chance of achieving. There are other ways in which we can support tourism, for example, offering free admission to museums and galleries has made them hugely attractive. “I know the industry wants a reduction in VAT but I am not going to promise it. But I am going to promise the things I can deliver. “The fact that more and more British people chose to holiday in the UK is good. And if they have a good experience, they will do it again. “We punch massively above our weight and we ought to celebrate that.”

Chair of the Conservative Tourism Task Force, John Lewis “We have had eight tourism ministers in 12 years and four culture secretaries in three years. The Conservatives have suggested a whole range of changes such as having a dedicated tourism minister. “We are also intending to dismantle

Pictured, from left to right Margaret, Niall, John and Don the RDA system and let local councils decide what they want to do. RDA’s are irrelevant. “We need a strong voice and someone representing the industry who understands it – one person who is solely responsible to answer problems. “Daylight saving time will also be in the Conservative manifesto.”

Shadow secretary of state, Liberal Democrats, Don Foster “Tourism is an important consideration for any chancellor. But all this talk about having a single minister for tourism is not the key issue. What matters is that we have a prime minister, chancellor and entire cabinet who recognise the importance of tourism. “If we are going to succeed in tourism and the industry getting the support it needs and deserves, it matters having all parties involved.

It’s not about having a single person but about cross departmental working, with great support and attention given to tourism. “We are prepared to consider a reduction of VAT rates on accommodation. The cost would be £5b but the benefit would be in the region of £5.75b. “We will make it very clear that this is an issue we will look at very closely. It also should include admission to tourist attractions. “It’s a very complex picture. If you look at the figures, there has been a two per cent increase in the number of visitors coming to the UK but the amount they spent per head went down by six per cent. “What matters the most is getting the overall economy back on track. That above everything is the thing that will drive forward the tourism market.”

CEO Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons “We went through a turbulent time last year and found we had to react fast. The tourism industry spoke with one voice to make our case. We pulled together a tourism group and got an increased funding allocation of about three per cent. “When times are tough, it is important we invest in promoting ourselves overseas. We have a lot of good assets but need to ensure our offer is prominently displayed. “The key challenge we have is competitiveness. There are certain things we are not going to be able to impact on but where we can have a real impact is our brand. We need everybody to rally behind that and pull together under that banner. For now it is important to keep our product at the front of the shelf.”

Praise for success of local partnerships

Pictured at the event (left to right) are Virgin Trains communications director, Arthur Leathley, Tobias Ellwood MP and VCC chief executive, Chris Brown. 12

SHADOW tourism minister Tobias Ellwood has applauded the success of local partnerships in creating a sustainable and successful visitor economy in the Cheshire region. During a visit to the Virgin Trains Talent Academy in Crewe, the Bournemouth East MP praised destination management organisation Visit Chester and Cheshire for its leadership in developing an approach to team working that has generated major economic and social benefits for the area and its residents.

He said: “The visitor economy in the sub region continues to be a story of enterprise and achievement, thanks to the close co-operation between the local authorities, the strategic support of the Northwest Regional Development Agency and the commitment to excellence of the private sector. “Attractions, events and service providers are fully engaged in driving up standards and their efforts will undoubtedly generate more success in the future.”

13 We will rock you



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The rock theatrical phenomenon! SEEN by over 11m people worldwide, We Will Rock You is now storming into its eighth year and is the biggest rock theatrical event of the century. This sensational mega-hit phenomenon continues to raise the roof and brings audiences to their feet with rapturous

standing ovations every night. Created by Queen and Ben Elton, the show includes over 24 of Queen’s classic hits, including Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio GaGa ... and of course, We Will Rock You.

One Dream, One Vision ... One Smash Hit! Dancing on Ice winner Hayley Tamaddon will star in pantomime in Sheffield this year. Hayley will be taking on the title role of Peter Pan in the show at the Lyceum Theatre from December 10 to January 9.

200,000 expected at free theatre festival


THE world’s largest free theatre festival is to return to London in June, organisers have revealed. More than 200,000 people are expected to attend West End LIVE – which will take place in Leicester Square over two days. The event will include a line up showcasing the very best of West End theatre, performing on a giant outdoor stage, and last year performers included the cast of Chicago, Jersey Boys, Wicked and Dirty Dancing – with this year's line up set to be bigger and better then ever

before. As well as watching the stage performances, Westminster City Council also organises a host of fun activities for families to enjoy, including interactive exhibitions from London’s leading museums and galleries. President of the Society of London Theatre Nica Burns said: "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."




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West End boom for family shows

Love Never Dies

West End thriving as weak pound attracts visitors By Christina Eccles THE weak pound is continuing to attract visitors to London – and in particular to West End theatres – according to an expert. Figures released by Encore Tickets for the first quarter of the year show that ticket sales to inbound travellers increased by 25 per cent for the first three months of 2010 compared with last year. North Western Europe – including areas such as Scandinavia and Germany – was top of the list of those taking advantage of bargain rates in the UK. The top show for international bookings being Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new hit Love Never Dies. Managing director John Wales said: “We have seen huge interest in the show from all round the world – so much so that we have now been able to secure extra ticket

inventory for both our international and UK trade partners.” The strong showing by Encore Tickets for the first quarter of this year builds on its 50 per cent growth in ticket sales during 2008 and 2009. The latest figures from the Society of London Theatres show that over 14m people visited the capital’s 52 major theatres last year, and of this figure Encore sold 1.5m tickets – more than 1 in 10. And John added that the good news looks set to continue throughout the rest of the year. He added: “There is no doubt the arrival of spring will give a further boost to both the long term favourites and great new productions now showing in the West End as well as the extra publicity from the TV search for the actress to play Dorothy in the new production of the Wizard of Oz.”

THE West End is seeing a boom in family-friendly shows – with the Lion King currently taking top spot as Superbreak’s top-selling London theatre break. The operator’s latest figures, which cover the Easter period, show the school holiday period affects the demand for different shows – with the trend set to continue during the summer holidays. Superbreak’s top selling shows through agents for April/May 2010 are: 1. The Lion King 2. Billy Elliot 3. Jersey Boys 4. Dirty Dancing 5. Sister Act Sales director Ian Mounser said: “If the Easter period is anything to go by, I expect that the family shows such as the Lion King, Wicked, Oliver! and Sister Act will sell well during the summer holidays. We have good ticket allocations and excellent package prices for families, making a theatre break great value this summer. “It is interesting that the Lion King has returned to the top spot. Last year Oliver! had not been open long, but once that initial surge had died down it is clear that strong, long running shows come in to their own and shows such as the Lion King, Billy Elliot and Wicked demonstrate their resilience.”

Play transfers

John Wales

THE Lyric Hammersmith and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse production of Ghost Stories is transferring to the West End. The play will open at London’s Duke of York Theatre in June, following sell-out successes. Artistic director of the Lyric Hammersmith Sean Holmes said: “I’m delighted that Ghost Stories is transferring to the Duke of York’s, not only is the transfer a fantastic endorsement for a brilliant production but also an amazing way to end my first season at the Lyric.”

Booking has been extended for smash hit musical Grease until September 2011. The show returned to the West End in July 2007 and has since been seen by over 1m theatregoers at London’s Piccadilly Theatre. The current cast includes Noel Sullivan as Danny and Siobhan Dillon as Sandy. Former Olympic skating champion and Dancing on Ice judge Robin Cousins also guest stars as Teen Angel until June 19. Picture: Paul Coltas 15




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DESTINATIONCENTRESTAGE New West End play All My Sons will preview at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue from 19 May. The production stars David Suchet and Zoë Wanamaker and will be directed by Howard Davies.

Singer Jane McDonald will be calling at the Princess Theatre in Torquay later this year to perform her smash hit new show. Jane, complete with orchestra and backing singers, will be leading the audience through a magical evening of music and laughter in a live concert at the venue in September.

Award winning theatre with the RSC

Any Dream Will Do finalist Keith Jack is to take on the leading role of Joseph in theatres up and down the country. The colourful retelling of the biblical story about Joseph, his 11 brothers and the coat of many colours includes a score which features songs such as Close Every Door and Any Dream Will Do.

STRATFORD-upon-Avon is the town where William Shakespeare, the world’s greatest dramatist, was born and is buried. Every year, millions of people celebrate his life and visit the attractions in the town, including performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The company is currently performing in the award-winning Courtyard Theatre, but at the end of this year the RSC will re-open their transformed Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres.

Become an RSC Group Member for just £15 per year – RSC Group Members enjoy a range of benefits including Priority Booking for RSC performances in the UK, regular newsletters and email updates, ticket discounts and deferred payment options. RSC Group members bringing a group of 8+ adults to RSC performances Monday through Friday, enjoy £7 off Superseats and top price seats (nonmembers are entitled to £5 off per ticket), plus one half price ticket for the group organiser. In addition to the discount, if your plans change group members are not charged a ticket exchange or resale fee (£2 per ticket for non members). Join online at or call the RSC Membership office on 01789 403440 16

Star of All The Fun of the Fair David Essex popped in to the Encore Tickets head office to meet the team. The company is offering group rates for the show, which is on at London’s Garrick Theatre, and includes hits such as Winter’s Tale, Hold Me Close and Me and My Girl.  Pictured is David with Encore Tickets MD John Wales.

17 RSC



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New Yorkshire Pass commission incentive GROUP travel organisers can earn 15 per cent commission for selling the Yorkshire Pass to Yorkshire’s visitors. The newly launched Yorkshire Pass is the UK’s first regional sightseeing pass, offering entry to 75 crown jewel attractions. Attractions include world heritage sites from Fountains Abbey to Studley Royal, world famous historic houses from Castle Howard and York Minster and the region’s royal castles such as Conisbrough Castle. The Yorkshire Pass adds value to any group tour and offers great discounts, giving visitors the

freedom to explore the region and save money. The pass is available as a one, two, three or six day pass making it a superb addition to any leisure break to the region. The pass also comes with an accompanying special offers booklet for leisure activities, coffee shops

Forecast bleak as Wincey is burned at the stake and restaurants, evening entertainment and retail offers, alongside a map and attractions information guide. The flexibility of the pass is a fantastic add-on to any visit to the region. It’s a great way to add value to any trip whilst giving visitors the benefit of exploring places they otherwise might have missed. For more information on how to qualify for the 15 per cent commission and include the Yorkshire Pass in your itinerary, contact Elaine Moss on or


THE UK’s original celebrity weather woman Wincey Willis has been ‘burned at the stake’ in the York Dungeon. The attraction was recreating the horror of 16th and 17th century witch burnings in its most bloodcurdling feature yet … Witches Burned Alive. Its terrifying climax sees the accused – usually someone plucked randomly from the audience – apparently incinerated on a raging bonfire.

Dungeon boss Helen Douglas explained: “It’s all smoke and special effects of course but it’s also a chilling reminder of a superstitious age when women and in some cases men could be condemned as witches on the most absurd grounds. “Just owning a cat or having a knack with herbs could be crimes enough if someone pointed an accusing finger. “Being able to forecast the weather would have been a hazardous talent indeed.”




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A vintage year for Yorkshire OFFERING great value for money combined with a high quality visitor experience will be the key to a successful year, according to Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive. Gary Verity said that 2009 was Yorkshire’s ‘vintage year’, which saw the county become the fastest growing area in the UK in terms of visitor numbers and spend. And he told Destination UK that the potential is there for this year to be just as successful – as the area has so much to offer to tourists. He said: “You have got to shout about what your main positives are and stay on top of your game. Consumers have a lot of choice available to them so look to offer great value and high quality. “The potential is there for it to be a good year.” To maximise on tourism opportunities in the region, a range

of marketing tools have been used to promote Yorkshire to as wide an audience as possible. However, Gary also said that when putting marketing campaigns in place, it is important to try different things in order to get the message across. He added: “Our marketing has been a combination of high profile TV advertising, some advertising at London mainline stations and an increasing amount of work on the web. You definitely need that marketing mix.” This year, Welcome to Yorkshire is working hard to target both domestic and international visitors – with the county’s strong transport links seen as a huge benefit. Gary added that although the largest number of international visitors come from the USA, visitor numbers are also strong from European countries such as

Gary Verity Germany and Holland because of a regular ferry link with Hull. Domestic visitors are also able to benefit from a good train network – with trains running between Yorkshire and London every half an hour.  One of the themes which Welcome to Yorkshire is pushing

this year is gardens. The organisation is taking a stand at the Chelsea Flower Show to promote Yorkshire’s range of beautiful gardens – of which 90 are free to enter – to visitors. The stand will also include cookery demonstrations from the region’s six Michelin starred chefs.

New exhibition from NRM RELIVE a golden era of the railways at the award-winning National Railway Museum. Perfect for groups of any size from large coach parties to small social groups, you can look forward to an array of discounts and other benefits when you pre-book a visit to the NRM along with free entry, secure coach parking, guided tours and a free lunch for the coach driver. As well as a huge collection of stunning locomotives and 100s of exhibits, there is always something new to

experience including a changing programme of special events, talks and exhibitions. We say a fond farewell to the iconic, recordbreaking Mallard on June 23 2010 as she leaves on a return ticket to Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon. Witness the beginning of her journey as she is pulled from the Museum by Tornado. Discover the story behind a new stunning display of the locomotive and carriage, Wainwright D Class 737 and Topaz in the Great Hall at the end of June and take a closer look at intriguing new exhibition Great Western Railway Reflections, celebrating the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Great Western Railway (opens May 28 2010). For further information about what’s on please visit






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Dome makes a splash with prestigious award DONCASTER Dome has scooped a prestigious business tourism award. The attraction was named Large Venue of the Year at the 2010 Insider Business Tourism Awards – beating off competition from Ponds Forge, the Yorkshire Event Centre, the National Railway Museum in York and the Harrogate International Centre. General manager Michael Hart said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have won the title best large venue

at these prestigious industry awards. “The award highlights the diverse nature of events held at the venue. “It really is testament to the hard work and dedication of all our staff that we are recognised for delivering excellence in business tourism. “Such honours help to put the Dome on the map, highlighting the hard work we do to help promote the town on both a local and national level.”

Bigger and better for annual cricket festival NOW in its 123rd year, the Scarborough Cricket Festival is an end of season series of cricket matches featuring Yorkshire County Cricket Club. The event has been held in Scarborough, on the east coast of Yorkshire, since 1876 and this year takes place from August 22-26. Welcome to Yorkshire are proud to be sponsoring the

event and are working with the club to extend the period over which it is held to include more cultural events centred around the cricket. This year’s event looks set to be even bigger and better with plenty to offer for groups of all sizes. Further details can be found on

Discover a world below your feet TAKE hold of the past and explore the excavations which first unearthed the Viking-age city of Jorvik in our brand new exhibitions. Built on the very site where archaeologists discovered over 40,000 Viking-age

artefacts, this is now your chance to get upclose to 1,000-year-old houses as they are revealed beneath your feet, objects taken from the excavations explored and Viking-age timbers brought before your eyes. New audio and video displays help you to investigate all of the information gathered from the five year-long dig at Coppergate and piece together the jigsaw of where the Vikings came from, why they came here, how they lived and died and where they travelled to. Also coming soon, a new attraction from York Archaeological Trust – Micklegate Bar Museum – opening May 2010. Special discounted rates are available for groups of 15 people and more, as well as a designated entry time to make the most of your day. For more information visit 20 or call 01904 615505.

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Capital chance to raise profile of Yorkshire By Christina Eccles ABOUT 1,500 people attended a conference in Harrogate to hear major announcements which aim to raise Yorkshire’s profile to another level and attract more visitors. Gary Verity, Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, revealed at the Y10 conference that the tourism agency will be supporting a production of The Railway Children at Waterloo station in London, using real steam trains in the show. As part of the event, an area of exhibition space at the entrance will also showcase the whole of Yorkshire, enticing Londoners and tourists in the capital to visit the county. Gary said: “When it ran at the National Railway Museum in York, The Railway Children attracted huge audiences which is not surprising as it is such an

engaging, interactive experience. “We are incredibly excited to be taking such a successful show to the new ‘Welcome to Yorkshire Theatre’ in London. “This is a massive opportunity to raise the profile of Yorkshire in our capital city.” Welcome to Yorkshire also revealed it is working on a new TV series, The Dales, with filming scheduled to take place throughout the Yorkshire Dales this summer. Gary added: “The impact this is set to have on tourism figures cannot be underestimated. “The Lakes attracted average audiences of 4.3m viewers and we’re hoping even more will tune in for The Dales.”




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Theatre re-opening expected to draw the crowds to town THE re-opening of Europe’s largest open air theatre in Scarborough is expected to attract more visitors to the town and encourage them to stay longer. The 6,500 seater venue will reopen in July – with a spectacular opera event starring Jose Carreras, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the Opera North Orchestra – after a £3.5m investment from Scarborough Borough Council to restore it to its former glory. Scarborough Borough’s Council’s chief executive Jim

Dillon said: “It is fantastic that we are now living the dream of bringing Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre back to life and it is another fine example of the town’s ability to deliver success on a grand scale. “I believe that the theatre will have a significant impact on both tourism and the economic well being of the whole of our borough.

in partnership with

Play offers a sporting twist FOR a summer treat with a sporting twist, try the Stephen Joseph Theatre Company’s new spin on Gilbert and Sullivan’s masterpiece: The Mikado. Prepare to be bowled over as Japan is swapped for the idyllic setting of Titipu Cricket Club, with superb melodies and songs to complement a biting satire on capital punishment where in the end love conquers all. The SJT is Scarborough’s local theatre with an international reputation, with a block-busting summer season that also includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, Communicating Doors and Life of Riley, both written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn. For more information contact the Box Office on 01723 370541 or visit

“It will be a unique facility and really put Scarborough on the national and international map.”

Fare idea for Leeds visitors VISITORS to Leeds will be able to take a fresh look at the city this summer with the introduction of a new sightseeing bus and city cruise. The open-top bus will offer a ‘hop on hop off’ service, between May and September, across a five mile route of Leeds City Centre – taking

in sights such as Millennium Square, the Corn Exchange and the Victoria Quarter. The new Leeds City Cruise will also give visitors a new way to explore the city – taking in the waterways from Clarence Dock to Brewery Wharf and Granary Wharf.

Sheffield attraction in an ideal location IDEALLY located for groups visiting Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the East Midlands is Sheffield’s Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre. Handle exotic snakes, see magnificent birds of prey and wander among free-flying butterflies, bats and birds. Feed marmoset monkeys, lorikeets and many more amazing creatures. Visit Meerkat Mansion, where you can feed the centre’s most popular residents and observe meerkat behaviour in a natural environment from special viewing areas. Daily demonstrations include spectacular bird of prey displays and many other enthralling animal encounters. Let inspiring, knowledgeable guides provide a unique insight into a world of tropical butterflies, insects and birds.

The charming new conservatory provides an idyllic setting in which to sample a range of traditional and speciality teas, quality coffees, freshly-prepared meals and homemade treats including traditional cream teas. Open daily and located just five minutes from the M1 junction 31, the centre is within easy reach of many other popular destinations such as Chatsworth House, the Peak District and the city of Lincoln, making it a perfect addition to your itinerary. Generous discounts apply to groups and coach tours. Other benefits include free admission for group organisers (groups of 15+), free coach parking and complimentary refreshments for drivers. For an unforgettable group visit in 2010, visit or call 01909 569 416 to make a booking





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New visitor guide A great experience launched for Doncaster whatever the event! DONCASTER may be a destination relatively unfamiliar to many in the travel trade, but the launch of a new visitor guide by the recently formed Doncaster Tourism aims to change all that and showcase the many fine attractions in this historic Yorkshire town. The new guide is packed with ideas for a great day out or short break. Colin Joy, head of Doncaster Tourism said: “For years, Doncaster has been far too modest about its beautiful architecture, fascinating history and beautiful scenery. Being the largest metropolitan borough in the country, much of Doncaster is actually quite rural with many nature reserves and sites of special scientific interest, such as Potteric Carr. And, being an old coaching town on the original Great North Road, the town of Doncaster is simply brimming with history. “We hope very much that our new visitor guide will encourage more people to appreciate just what Doncaster has to offer. Our market is undoubtedly one of the finest traditional markets in all of England; our racecourse stages the oldest classic horse race in the world, the St Leger Stakes, taking place every September since 1776; and the Doncaster Locomotive Works was where the finest of steam trains were built, such as the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard.” The new 72 page guide is available from Doncaster Tourism. For more information contact: 01302 736036


AFTER a spectacular £34m redevelopment completely changed the look and feel of Doncaster Racecourse in 2007, the venue has gone on to prove itself as a world class venue – not just as one of the UK's best known racecourses, staging the globally renowned Classic St. Leger horse race, but also as an excellent setting for a multitude of high profile events and music concerts. Past events and exhibitions have included live outdoor concerts after racing, with artists ranging from iconic '80's band Madness attracting a crowd of over 15,000 and R'n'B artists Alesha Dixon and Lemar, pulling crowds in excess of 10,000, through to the quirky and amazing talents of tattoo artists from across the world showcasing their art at the 2009 Tattoo Jam, due to return to the racecourse again in August 2010. Regular antiques fairs, computer markets and toy fairs bring visitors from around across the UK and the constant addition this year of new and exciting events such as the Doncaster Pride event and the course's own premium quality Wedding Shows ensures that there is always an excellent choice of things to do and see at the venue all year round. Horse racing is of course the key to Doncaster Racecourse, both recently and historically. With an equine heritage dating back to 1776, horse racing and the racecourse have remained a strong force within Doncaster throughout and remain a key attraction for visitors to the town. With an average of 32 race meetings each year running from January through to December, the racing fan is able to enjoy both Flat and National Hunt racing at the course, enhanced on many dates by free entertainment for both children and adults. For race meetings, children are admitted to the course free of charge up to the age of 18 years (but must be accompanied by an adult) including after racing events such as the live outdoor music concerts. For more information and event details visit: or call: 01302 304200




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More visitors use public transport By Christina Eccles USING sustainable methods of transport can improve destinations and the all-round visitor experience, according to experts. The Brecon Beacons National Park has seen increasing numbers of visitors utilising public transport facilities. Having a good bus service to the attraction helps those who rely on public transport to visit as well as encouraging visitors who do have cars to leave them behind. Sustainable tourism manager Richard Tyler revealed that according to figures, the percentage split of users of the Beacons Bus was 50/50 between those with no car who needed to use the bus to visit the park and those who had a car available but chose to travel on public transport. And he said the key to success has been effectively marketing alternative options for those travelling by car and delivering the message that coming by bus or on

foot is not only better for the environment but also more fun. He said: “We have tried to be communicative and use good illustrations to get across our messages for car free days out, which include family walks by bus and mountain walks by bus. We also have a stand alone website which has walking information on it.” Alistair Kirkbride from the Lake District National Park Authority has also been working to enhance travel options for visitors. The area gets about 8m visitors a year and the park has been surveying their habits to determine what would encourage them to leave their cars behind. He added: “We have looked at the different types of visitors and the biggest impact is their transport. “Visitors’ attitudes to reducing car use are that people are keen to use their car less but it has to be convenient. “You have got to be clever about marketing places. We have

promoted alternative transport in the Lake District such steam railways, cruises, buses and electricity charged vehicles. “We are also starting to work with

coach operators, offering weekend breaks for young people and also measures to make it easier for people to leave the car once they are here.”

Pictured right: An awardwinning museum in Stratfordupon-Avon has opened a new attraction. The Creaky Cauldron’s magical tea and coffee shop, The Taming of the Brew will stock a range of unusual teas, coffee and old fashioned snacks. Spokesman Dave Matthews said: "We are delighted to be opening our magical Tea and Coffee Shoppe which will be unique to Stratford. Our teas and coffees come from all corners of the world from China to Kenya and from Bangladesh to Vietnam. We will be selling a truly unique range that will provide our customers with the ultimate tea drinking experience and unlimited refills.”

Pictured left: Oxford Castle has launched a new walking tour for groups. The Sights and Secrets tour is available to visitors already booked on a tour at the famous visitor attraction and who want to find out more.

Hotel’s delight A HOTEL in Stratford-upon-Avon has retained its prestigious four star AA rating after a recent inspection. The Menzies Welcombe Hotel Spa and Golf Club was awarded a merit score of 83 per cent for its accommodation. Head chef Robin Smith also retained two AA Rosette in the hotel’s Trevelyan Restaurant. General manager Greg Fehler said: “We are delighted to have retained our Four Star rating and two Rosettes which are both testament to the exemplary high standards and commitment to excellence we maintain. Our rating is a fantastic achievement and recognition of the hotel being one of the leading luxury country house hotels in the region.”

New hotel to be built A NEW Premier Inn will be built adjacent to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford as part of the company’s £160m hotel expansion in London. The hotel will also be the closest hotel to the new Stratford International station, which opened last December. The site – plus the other new London locations – will all be open and trading by Summer 2012. 23




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Attractions staff come together for training day STAFF from a range of Norfolk attractions came together for a one day training course on how to give visitors to the region a warm welcome. Representatives from Wroxham Barns, Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, Broads Tours and the RAF Radar Museum – all members of the Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association – completed the Welcome Host training course, which was delivered by East of England Tourism. It formed part of the national Welcome to Excellence initiative to train staff in tourism businesses in customer service skills and give

Two of the region’s tourism businesses were rewarded at this year’s Enjoy England Awards for Excellence. The Bildeston Crown in Suffolk won gold in the Taste of England category and BeWILDerwood in Norfolk was awarded silver in the Large Visitor Attraction category, which was won by RHS Garden Wisley. The awards – sponsored by The Caravan Club and run by VisitEngland – were presented at a ceremony held at the Brighton Dome.  Pictured are the team from the Bildeston Crown collecting their award.

St Albans’ project flies high Phase two of a spectacular conservation project has opened at Butterfly World near St Albans. A new butterfly breeding house and insect study centre are among the new attractions on display – with the project due for completion next year with the opening of a massive biodome. When open, it will be filled with 10,000 tropical butterflies, Maya ruins, caves, streams and rope walkways. Butterfly World, backed by Professor David Bellamy, pictured, Sir David Attenborough and actress Emilia Fox, is designed in the shape of a butterfly’s head and set within 27 acres of land.

Area offers something for everyone DIRECTLY to the north of London, the East of England is based around the ancient kingdom of East Anglia – covering the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. The area has preserved much of its unspoiled character, rural landscape, architecture and traditions. From the University city of Cambridge and seaside fun, to outdoor pursuits and the unspoiled waterways of The Broads – there is something for everyone. A visit to one of our seaside resorts is always a hit – from Cromer or Sheringham in the North of Norfolk – over to the west for

Hunstanton or south into Suffolk for Southwold, for a taste of how things used to be, Aldeburgh or Felixstowe then towards the great Essex resorts of Clacton, Walton or Southend with their sandy beaches 24 and great attractions.

Perhaps you would prefer a more cultural experience? Then discover the history and heritage of our major towns and cities. In Colchester you will find over 2,000 years of history thriving alongside 21st century culture. Norwich offers plenty of history and the Norman Cathedral is a particular treasure. For fabulous views around Suffolk and Essex in the Dedham Vale, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – see the locations John Constable used for his famous paintings. On the website you will find a huge variety of places to stay, explore what exciting things there are to do and discover a comprehensive database of events.

them a greater understanding of the value of tourism to the local economy. Course leader Caroline Featherstone said: "Welcome Host is an activity based course. Delegates work in groups and review their own customer service and look at ways to improve it. We cover subjects like body language, first impressions and customer needs, including those with specific needs. “The course also considers the importance of tourism to the local economy, so that delegates can understand their contribution to the industry.”

Advice on 2012 opportunities By Christina Eccles AN event has taken place to help tourism businesses in the East of England capitalise on the 2012 Olympics. About 130 tourism leaders and accommodation providers from across the region met at the Imperial War Museum Duxford to hear a range of speakers offer advice and guidance on how to make the most of the event coming to the UK. Speakers included Donna Taylor, head of accommodation at LOCOG, who gave the group

details of how many rooms will be needed in London and the UK over the period of the Olympics and Paralympics and the major planning and organisation that is going on behind the scenes. She was joined by chief executive of East of England Tourism Keith Brown who discussed the Fair Price Charter and Chris Foy, Head of the 2012 Games Unit at VisitBritain – who gave the audience an insight into how plans are developing with overseas markets.

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Latitude Festival

Suffolk bids to be the festival capital of the UK By Christina Eccles A NEW campaign has been launched to position Suffolk as the festival capital of the UK. The Festivals Suffolk brand has been created to highlight the number and quality of events taking place in the county and to encourage more tourists to tie a visit to an event into their holiday or short break. Festivals promoted will include Latitude, the Newmarket Festival and Harvest at Jimmy’s and festival fans will be able to find out more through a dedicated campaign website. Choose Suffolk’s tourism manager Alex Paul said: “There are a great variety and quality of festivals in Suffolk and festivals are increasingly driving traffic to destinations and are a great way to connect with new audiences. “The idea has been very well received in the local area and events have been keen to get on

board.” Alex added that the campaign will be beneficial both to the local tourism industry and to the events themselves who will be sharing database contacts to help to market each other’s events. He added: “Suffolk is a strong brand in itself but if you run high quality events you need to work with tourism. “You can’t just rely on the same audiences coming back again. Tourists are a very serious source of new visits.” As well as a website, a new brand identity and logo has been created and a Festivals Suffolk sofa will be appearing at all of the partner events for press and VIPs. The campaign will carry on throughout the year and Alex also said that Choose Suffolk is keen to also roll it out overseas to key European markets such as France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Taste of university life VISITORS to Cambridge can now experience university life for themselves – by booking into one of 19 colleges offering bed and breakfast. The colleges have just opened their doors for B&B in the University’s vacation periods – with a range of room styles and locations on offer. Manager of Conference Cambridge Kelly Vickers said: “Thousands of visitors come to Cambridge each year, attracted

by the historical architecture and unique atmosphere of the colleges. “In the past, requests for staying in college have mainly come from groups but we have noticed a significant increase in enquiries from individuals. “Now everyone can experience it first hand by booking into one of our participating venues offering bed and breakfast in the University vacations.”

16th Century attraction GAINSBOROUGH’S House is the birthplace of Thomas Gainsborough. The house dates back to the 16th century and has an attractive walled garden. The outstanding collection is shown together with 18th century furniture and memorabilia. There is a varied programme of exhibitions on both historic British and contemporary art throughout the year. Special arrangements are made for groups; please ask for details when booking a visit. The size of the house precludes guided tours, but we do offer an introductory talk about the house and the collection. Open: Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm Telephone: 01787 372958

Exploring West Norfolk BRIM full of history, West Norfolk is a treasure trove of houses, windmills, castles and heritage sites to discover. King’s Lynn is a real jewel of a town, steeped in maritime and trading history. Not far from the renowned Sandringham House is Houghton Hall, a splendid Palladian mansion with awardwinning gardens and parkland. Discover museums and the natural world, beautiful gardens, arts and crafts centres, festivals and so much more. West Norfolk – Easy to reach, great to explore. For further information and advice on planning trips to West Norfolk, contact one of our Tourist Information Centres or visit our website. King’s Lynn TIC 01553 763044. Hunstanton TIC 01485 532610 Downham Market TIC 01366 383287.





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Conference returns to the capital after five-year break By Mark Miller, executive director of the Tourism Society THE 2010 Tourism Society conference will be returning to London after a five-year absence and the venue will be the iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground. This year's conference will be sponsored by The Carrier Group, comprising of direct marketing specialists Carrier Direct Marketing and online marketers Carter Communication. The pre-conference programme kicks off on Sunday June 13 when delegates can either join a guided study tour of the 2012 London Olympic site, or watch a 20/20 cricket cup match at Lord’s. There will be an informal networking evening open to all members. The conference will take place on Monday June 14. The format this year will be different from that of previous years, aiming to engage delegate participation and debate. Following the official opening by our chairman, Alison Cryer, key note speaker Tobias Ellwood, currently shadow minister for Culture, Media and Sport will no doubt provide first hand interesting insights into the future of British politics. The audience will then hear two plenary sessions: The first presentation will be lead by Ken Robinson, Tourism Society think-tank chairman on Optimising Tourism – Strategies, Policy,

Funding and Delivery. This will focus on how the tourism industry can best utilise the assets it has to propel it forward for the coming decade. The second presentation will cover tourism’s link with Biodiversity. After a networking lunch delegates will split up into four breakout sessions and will have the option to go to two of the sessions during the afternoon. The first will be chaired by The Carrier Group, entitled New Media and Marketing for Tomorrow, Peter Varlow, TEAM Tourism Consulting

will talk the audience through the world of social media. There will also be a live Twitter feed running in the background which will be used during the presentation. The second option will be Continual Professional Development, Training and Education and the Need for Increased CPD as the Workforce's Age Increases Over the Next Decade. With the integration of the Tourism Management Institute (TMI) and the Tourism Society, CPD has become the latest benefit of being a member. Cathy Guthrey, honorary secretary TMI, will talk

delegates through the advantages of participating in a CPD programme and what it can do for your career. Session three will look at A New Decade of Events Conferences and Incentives post recession, analysing the current market and looking at future opportunities and threats such as the impact of the 2012 legacy and bidding for the 2018 World Cup. The final session will focus on The Future of Tourism Consultancy. Chris Wikeley, chairman of The Tourism Consultants Network, a special interest section of The Tourism Society will consider the role consultants play in the tourism industry, how this has changed and the TCN's expectations for the next 10 years. Finally delegates will come back together for summaries of the sessions and outcomes by the chairmen followed by debate and comment. After the conference, dinner will be held in the famous Marylebone Cricket Club Long Room. Finally rounding off the day with a welcome speech from the society president Lord Thurso MP and an entertaining after dinner speech. On day two, Tuesday June 15, the 2010 Tourism Society AGM will be held in the delegate hotel at 9am. All members are welcome to attend and hear about their society's future plans. For more information and to register for the conference please visit the Tourism Society website –

Michaela Strachan Picture: Adam White

Bard’s birthday celebrated THOUSANDS of visitors descended on Stratford-upon-Avon to celebrate the 446th birthday of William Shakespeare. The celebrations began with the unveiling of a special commemorative plaque displaying a poem by Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal – who was influenced by Shakespeare’s work – at the Shakespeare Centre. During the celebrations, internationally renowned artists from Pakistan entertained the crowds with a spectacular 26 programme of performance.

The streets of Stratford were also filled with music and entertainment and a people’s procession through the town. Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations Committee Nicolas Walsh said: “We had great birthday celebrations, from the ceremonial of the procession, to the carnival atmosphere of the entertainment. “Youth theatre companies from Russia, the USA and England performed Shakespeare scenes and we heard great speeches.”

Michaela to host awards TV PRESENTER Michaela Strachan will host the Lancashire and Blackpool Tourism Awards, which take place at the Mercure Dunkenhalgh Hotel in June. The awards highlight the achievements and contribution of the county’s tourism businesses to Lancashire’s £3b visitor economy – with winners progressing to the Northwest regional finals and the chance to go on to the national Enjoy England Awards for Excellence. LBTB chief executive Mike Wilkinson said: “It is great news

that Michaela is going to join us for this year’s awards. Lancashire is 80 per cent rural and blessed with areas of outstanding natural beauty, an abundance of fascinating wildlife and attractions dedicated to sharing an appreciation of animals and the environment. Judging by some of this year’s finalists, which include the award-winning Blackpool Zoo, the internationally significant nature reserve Martin Mere and attractions such as Cobble Hey Farm and the outdoor experience Go Ape – Lancashire, like Michaela, is just wild about nature.”

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Destination Uk (May/June 2010)  

Promoting UK tourism to the worlds travel trade.

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