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Issue 27 March/April 2009 £2.75

Big rise in French tourists expected

How tourism industry must adapt By Dominic Musgrave TOURISM businesses need to create a clear reason why people should come and visit Britain, it has been claimed. Barbara Cassani, chairman of Jurys Inn, says the industry needs to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions. Speaking at the annual UKinbound convention in Manchester, she said: “Tourism doesn’t need bail-outs, but it does needs a compelling story to tell the rest of the world why it should visit. The days of Cool Britannia are gone – along with most of the city of London. What are we replacing Cool Britannia with? I don’t think Gordon Brown’s worried face markets Britain particularly well. “Being called the ‘Reykjavik of the Thames’ doesn’t portray the UK as an upbeat, dynamic place to take a short break or holiday.” Barbara, who was part of the London 2012 Olympic bid committee, challenged the government and industry to present a cleverly fashioned, positive face for the country to the rest of the world in the run-up to the Olympics. She added: “We need a snappy answer to “Why should I visit

Britain?” Of course the Olympic Games will offer a fantastic reason for people to visit the UK, but we want it to be more than a summer jamboree. The run up to 2012 should begin with a clearly understood programme of events around the country starting this year. To be fair, Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture was a fantastic start. What’s next? “In the UK, we have fabulous cities and lovely countryside that will look even more attractive to American and European travellers who will benefit from the depreciation of the pound.” She also questioned whether visitors were motivated to come back for a second or third time and backed VisitBritain chairman Christopher Rodrigues’ warning of a danger of the UK losing its reputation for service. “I’m not really convinced with the moves of some of our competitors towards creating hotels with no human interaction. You can’t build an emotional connection without people delivering service. The reality is that in a recessionary environment, you need to offer more keenly priced products. The good times will come round again.”

The award-winning costumes that appeared in smash-hit movie The Duchess are on show at Chatsworth in a new display showcasing the role it has played in television and film. The wedding clothes worn by Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes in the film about the Duchess of Devonshire will be shown alongside previously unseen footage filmed on location at Chatsworth.

THE number of French tourists visiting the UK is expected to rocket this year because of the weak exchange rate. Hotel booking website hotels.com reported an increase of more than 75 per cent in people searching for places to stay in London in December compared with the previous year. A spokesperson for the site said: “A combination of falling hotel prices and the pound dropping so much that it is almost at parity with the Euro means it is a really good time for people to book hotels in this country.” Travel firms including Eurostar and P&O Ferries have reported a rise of between 10 and 15 per cent in the number of people booking trips across the Channel.


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Bid to promote Torbay to the gay community By Dominic Musgrave TOURISM businesses in Torbay are hoping to promote the area as a holiday hotspot for gay people. Mark Hoyle, who runs a holiday rental business in the town, says it could take over from Brighton and Bournemouth if everyone works together. He has now set up a website – www.torgay.co.uk – to promote the area to the gay community. He said: “I really want us to put Torbay on the map, and the response we have had since setting up the website has been phenomenal. We had almost

2,000 hits in the first week, and some of the major companies in the town have come on board and offered us sponsorship and help. “I’ve lived here for seven years and it quickly became apparent to me that there wasn’t much of a cohesive gay scene in the area. We are determined to make this successful.” Mark says both Brighton and Bournemouth owe their revamped image to the gay communities, and there is no reason why Torbay cannot follow their lead. “Brighton 30 years ago and Bournemouth 10 years ago were buzzing places, and I see no reason why Torbay cannot be the

same,” he added. “Gay couples tend to have a lot of disposable income and no dependents, and they may bring with them family and friends. It would be of benefit to all businesses.” He added that it was not just the gay community which needed to attract visitors to the town. Plans are also in place for the first Pride in Torbay festival to be held this summer. Although no date has been confirmed, the four-day event would take place in gay and gay-friendly bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels as well as a couple of quirky venues.

Entertainment news in Centrestage starting on Page 13

Cashing in on the weak pound Page 12

York

Pages 22-23

Scottish Expo Preview

Pages 24-26

Contacts EDITORIAL Andrew Harrod group editor 01226 734639 ah@whpl.net Nicola Hyde news editor 01226 734459 nl@whpl.net Christina Eccles reporter 01226 734463 ce@whpl.net Mary Ferguson reporter 01226 734712 mf@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 Emma Frisby – graphic designer ef@whpl.net ADVERTISING

Armathwaite Hall Hotel in the Lake District has opened a new £5m spa facility. The development features ten treatment rooms and a 16-metre infinity pool, which boasts a unique floor to ceiling indoor waterfall.

VisitBritain has appointed Anne Harvey as head of policy, to help the agency influence government opinion-formers and decision-makers. Anne, who will work with public and private sector partners in the industry, has joined VisitBritain from the House of Commons where she worked for the

Scottish National Party’s Westminster Group as Parliamentary business manager. She said: “I look forward to engaging with the challenges and opportunities afforded by the present economic climate, and to championing the tourist industry.”

Excellence award for hotel THE Macdonald Ansty Hall hotel in Warwickshire has scooped an award for excellence in customer service. It is the second year that Ansty Hall had been finalists in the HRS Hotel Excellence Awards. General manager Steven Quick said: “It is a great

achievement for us to scoop not just this award, but also to be recommended in the Excellence in Meetings Category. All the team at the hotel have worked hard to achieve this success and are very proud of the hotel and service we offer.”

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

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National tourism agency Visit Britain has teamed up with the Premier League to promote UK tourism to new markets. Nicola Hyde reports.

Buyers look out towards the pitch on a stadium tour of Old Trafford as a part of Discovery 2008, a VisitBritain flagship meeting and incentive event held bi-annually in the UK. And below: The pitch at Old Trafford, Manchester

iKnow now helps local attractions

FOLLOWING the national success of the iknow accommodation listing websites, the company is now helping local attractions, shops and restaurants target an audience of over seven million visitors. Promoting your business to visitors in a cost-effective way is almost impossible and is invariably limited to the largest tourist attractions. But one company has found a solution – what if you could market your attraction, café, shop or travel service to an audience of millions who are already planning trips to your area? www.iknow-uk.com was launched five years ago. Since then, their regional sites have welcomed 20m visitors; generating one and a half million booking enquiries worth an estimated £250m. And this year, they’re looking to help the attractions industry share this success. Whether you own a pub, restaurant, museum, cinema or shop, or if you run a travel business, from coaches and trains to taxis and mini-buses, you can promote your business to people visiting your area from just £129 per year. Managing director Marcus Simmons said: "There is no point in having a great attraction if no one knows about it. You have to get yourself seen and try to gain an advantage on the competition, particularly in the current economic climate.” Where iknow-uk differs from most websites is that it actually works. Signing up will enable businesses to gain a head start on their rivals in fiercely-competitive tourist destinations. 4

To list your attraction or business, call iknow-uk on 0800 064 3333 or visit www.iknow-uk.com.

Bid to lure Premier fans to UK A CAMPAIGN has been launched to lure the global Premier League audience of more than four billion people to visit the UK. The partnership has seen the launch of a new website – www.visitbritain.com/football – which promotes the 20 Premiership teams and includes information on tourism businesses in the areas surrounding them, like Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Manchester and Portsmouth. Elliott Frisby, spokesman for Visit Britain, said: “We are known around the world for our football and it’s something that is avidly followed by new markets, particularly in Asia and South East Asia where they really love Manchester United and Chelsea. “The Premiership is hugely popular in Japan and South Korea too where the renaissance of football in these markets has been led by David Beckham. “Our teams have major brands worldwide and we realised there must be some way we can link this great sporting heritage with tourism. “All our clubs offer behind the scenes tours but its not just about that – it is about drawing attention to some of the attractions that are less well known in these areas.” Research has shown that 41 per cent of potential visitors to the UK are likely to watch a fooball match during their trip, and around 1.2 million attended

matches in 2007. Tom Wright, chief executive of VisitBritain, added: “England’s Premier League is an iconic brand that people around the world are familiar with and, as one in ten of all our visitors watch or take part in sport during their trip to Britain, it could inspire many more to come here. “For many people, their first encounter with Britain is through our sporting, film, literary or music heritage. Football is widely watched overseas with matches being shown in over 200 countries around the world. Our work with the Premier League will help us reach new audiences and encourage even more people to consider a trip to Britain.” Visitors will be encouraged to visit surrounding attractions like Chelsea Physic Garden, Museum of Fulham Palace, Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower and Historic Dockyard, Manchester’s Lowry, Imperial War Museum North and Urbis. Tourism minister Barbara Follett added: “Britain has an outstanding international sporting reputation and many people will want to visit the homeland of their heroes. “This new website is a great way of encouraging potential visitors to explore everything the United Kingdom has to offer whilst giving them the chance to find out more about their favourite team or player.”

Father and son look at an exhibit in the Newcastle United Museum at St James's Park


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Call for more money for the industry By Dominic Musgrave MORE money should be ploughed into the tourism industry instead of helping out other struggling sectors, it has been claimed. Hoseasons chief executive Richard Carrick told Destination UK there has never been a better opportunity or need to get behind UK tourism in the current economic climate. He said: "Unlike many other areas of potential investment like the car industry, which gets a much bigger billing than ours, the Government should invest in tourism because it is set to have its best ever year as the weakness of the pound is making the UK a very attractive place for foreign visitors. “If the Government doesn’t realise this quickly and give us the financial and legislative support we require it would be an opportunity lost.” Richard is one of a cluster of representatives from leading travel organisations calling for tourism to be removed from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

They have written to the Prime Minister, asking for the industry to get the recognition it deserves by its responsibility being moved to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. He added: “I’m not too bothered where the industry moves to as long as it is taken away from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. There is no mention of it in the title, and it is vital that tourism gets the recognition it deserves. “It is essential that leaders sit around the table and start to discuss this because I am convinced that tourism is not high high up on the Government’s agenda. People aren't aware of the impact tourism has on the UK economy.” The other business leaders who signed the letter were the chief executives from Bourne Leisure, Butlins, Travelodge, D and D London, Merlin Entertainments and the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions.

A Michelin star chef has launched a new brochure to help promote food tourism in Anglesey. Marc Wilkinson, who spent a large part of his youth on Anglesey, took time out from his restaurant Fraiche in Wirral to launch the new brochure for the island. Marc said: “Red Wharf Bay was great for cockling, I

used to bring cockles home and we’d cook them, so from a young age I always loved to go and find the freshest ingredients which Anglesey is great for.” Tourism bosses say Anglesey has developed a reputation for food tourism and specialities include Welsh black beef and guinea fowl.

£20m boost for North West tourist boards A £20m funding package has been unveiled for the North West which will boost marketing for the five area tourist boards. The Northwest Regional Development Agency will plough £20.6m into the sub-regional tourist boards to promote interest in tourism during the difficult economic climate. The funding has been allocated to Cumbria Tourism, the Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board, Marketing Manchester, the Mersey Partnership and Visit Chester and Cheshire and will be spent on development and promotion. James Berresford, director of tourism at the Northwest Regional Development Agency, said: “The current economic climate will inevitably have an impact on the

tourism industry, which is why it is now more important than ever for us to continue to invest in the region’s tourism offer. “The NWDA is committed to supporting the region’s visitor economy and this investment will ensure a strong climate of support for tourism during these challenging times. If we continue to invest in infrastructure, training, marketing our unique offer and, above all, maintain a quality, value-for-money visitor experience, the Northwest can continue to develop its competitive advantage and capitalise on the increasing trend to holiday at home.” Each tourist board will invest in training programmes, visitor information, product development and marketing activity.

Bath creates a stronger identity THE branding of Bath as a tourism destination has been overhauled to create a stronger identity. Bath Tourism Plus has redesigned the visitor guide and invested in new destination photography, logo and website. Leisure marketing manager

Jasmine Simmons said: “Projecting a strong brand identity for Bath is crucial in order to create an impact in the marketplace.” Over 80,000 copies of the new visitor guide have been printed and will be sent to addresses across the world. 5


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DESTINATIONNEWS North Wales Borderlands has shifted its marketing from print to electronic format after a decline in demand. The new campaign for Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire was launched after research showed a declining demand for the old 56page brochure. Trade director Darryl Shaw said: “Traditionally we’ve provided the bulk of our visitor information through brochures. There’s no doubt that print still has a vital role to play, but 2009 will see more information being made available online to reflect changing trends in how people like to research and plan their short breaks.”

Events draw tourists to island By Christina Eccles EVENTS on the Isle of Wight play a valuable role in attracting tourists to the island, it has been claimed. The Isle of Wight has a packed events programme which includes Cowes Week, a walking festival and two popular music festivals – the Isle of Wight Festival and Bestival . Isle of Wight Council’s assistant director of economic development, tourism and partnerships John Metcalfe said events such as these are an effective way of drawing visitors to the area. He said that marketing and promoting the Isle of Wight at major events encourages festivalgoers to

either explore more of the Island during their visit or to return for a break at a later date. John said: “The Isle of Wight Festival and Bestival are important in terms of changing perceptions. “People now see the island as a vibrant, lively place. “The challenge is to make sure that the 60,000 people who come to the Isle of Wight festival actively come back and enjoy the rest of the island. “We have the opportunity to showcase our other activities and do that through promotion in and around the festival site to say to festivalgoers, come back to the Isle of Wight.

“Events such as Cowes Week, Bestival and the Isle of Wight Festival usually sell out based on their reputation and because of going to these events, people come back for another break on the island. “A lot of people will make repeat visits and use other events to come back. “Instead of one two week holiday, some people are now having shorter breaks which tie in with events and festivals. The credit crunch offers us an opportunity but it has to be worked at.” John said the council also has plans in the pipeline to introduce new festivals to the Isle of Wight to

John Metcalfe build on the success of its existing programme. These include plans for a film festival and an event which celebrates the Isle of Wight’s strong literary heritage.

Homecoming bid to bring in £40million By Christina Eccles

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SCOTLAND’S Homecoming celebrations could potentially generate £40m for the Scottish economy, it has been revealed. The campaign – which has been allocated £3m of funding for events – is a packed programme showcasing Scotland’s greatest contributions such as whisky and golf to the world. 2009 will see a number of new projects springing up alongside established major Scottish events – all with the aim of celebrating Scotland and bringing in as many visitors as possible. According to EventScotland’s chief operating officer Paul Bush, the campaign has come at an important time economically because of the positive impact it could have on tourism figures. He said “A year ago, very few people would have envisaged how important this will be in the current climate. It picks up on lots of Scotland’s main strengths and there is something for everyone. “It is going really well and awareness of the campaign is huge. “Throughout the world, people love Scotland for its rich heritage

and culture and we also have a very strong marketing campaign. “It has been a joined up effort with VisitScotland and it is the first time we have had a project like this for the nation.” Homecoming programme and funding manager Torquil MacLeod added Homecoming will also be good for the Scottish events industry as instead of competing with each other, this will be a chance to join forces to showcase what the country has to offer in terms of events. Torquil said: “It is the first time the events industry and the tourism agency have worked so closely to promote Scotland outside Scotland. “We have a strong campaign to deliver an additional audience and we have worked really closely with the industry to make sure we are not creating an environment which is competitive or will reduce audiences. “So many events see themselves as being in competition but one of the most exciting things is that the events industry as a whole has come together under one theme. “We are looking to return roughly £40m generated for the Scottish economy.”


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Recession is forcing holiday plan changes By Nicola Hyde

Hallmark Hotels has appointed Linda Gregory as general manager of its Manchester property – formerly The Belfry House Hotel – and Vivien Slater as director of sales and marketing for the group. The appointments follow the company’s acquisition and £5m refurbishment of the hotel, which was completed last month.

Linda, who was previously sales manager, has been based at the hotel for more than ten years and was chosen for her sales and service background. Vivien was previously director of sales for Golden Tulip UK, and has over 12 years experience including stints at Millennium and Copthorne, Le Meridien and Inter-Continental.

NEW research has shown that almost half of holidaymakers have scaled back their holiday plans but two thirds still plan to take more eco-friendly holidays. A survey of over 1,000 adults by the consultancy Good Business, suggests the recession is already forcing consumers to change their holiday plans with 46 per cent scaling back. But 61 per cent of consumers say they are planning to find out more about the social and environmental impact of their holiday and 55 per cent plan to choose holiday destinations which can be reached by train or boat rather than flying. Giles Gibbons, founder of Good Business, said: “With less money in their pockets it seems many holidaymakers plan to look for cheaper alternatives in the UK this year. “Some might see this as good news from an environmental

perspective, with reductions in things like flights. However the social impact on foreign holiday destinations, many of which depend on tourism for employment and investment, could be devastating.” Center Parcs, the UK family holiday company, tops the list of holiday companies in relation to how well they are addressing social and environmental issues. But most potential visitors (76 per cent) felt they did not have enough information about social and environmental impacts of holidays to allow them to make an informed choice. Justin Francis, founder of responsibletravel.com said: “What this research and our own growth in the last eight years shows is that there is a staggering unmet demand for more information and for more responsible holidays that deliver stronger benefits to communities and destinations. Now it is up to the industry to listen to consumers and to act sooner rather than later.”

Board chases Spanish visitors

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A new sales manager has been recruited to the SAS Radisson Hotel in Liverpool. Amy Rowland has worked at the Hilton Ocean Front Resort, located off the Southern Carolina coast and was previously events coordinator in Stratford-Upon-Avon at the Alveston Manor.

YORKSHIRE Tourist Board has attended a trade fair in Spain to promote the area. The team were promoting the already successful Spanish campaign Are You Ready to Sin Again? which is themed on indulgence. It comes after research showed a growing market from Spain – in 2007 there were 97,000 visits to Yorkshire and they were worth £18m. The new campaign focuses on the travel hubs of Madrid and Barcelona, promoting the region as a short break destination. Spokesman Gary Verity said: “By taking the Yorkshire brand to this international platform we not only reach those audiences within Spain we also have the opportunity to sell Yorkshire further afield.”


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DESTINATIONNEWS

UK ‘nano-breaks’ surge in popularity A FRESH trend in ‘nano-breaks’ has seen a surge of tourists booking UK short breaks for just one night, according to research. Hotel booking site Hotels.com said tourists are so determined to keep their holidays that they are shortening their stays and are going away for a single night so they get the break without the cost. The company analysed data for

searches for breaks during the weekend for single-night stays (to remove business travel) at the top-75 UK destinations for UK travellers during January 2009 and January 2008. The results showed there has been a 29 per cent increase in the number of holidaymakers loking for single-night holidays. Alison Couper, communications director, said: “All of our research

shows that people see holidays as a right not a luxury and the rise in searches for nano-breaks is further evidence of holidaymakers’ determination to keep travelling. The simple act of going on holiday for just a single night is relaxing and a change from the stresses and strains of life, so travellers are keen to make sure that they are getting away from it all, if only for a

couple of days.” The study showed that UK cities have been the biggest beneficiaries of the increase in enquiries. Customers wanting single-night, weekend stays in Brighton were up by 140 per cent in January. Searches for Edinburgh nano-breaks were up 82 per cent while they rose 20 per cent in London and by 143 per cent in Bournemouth.

Campaign will drive tourists to ‘home of golf’ By Nicola Hyde GOLF tourists are to flock to Scotland after a successful campaign that is expected to be worth over £14m to the economy. VisitScotland’s Drive It Home golf campaign offered free four-ball at participating courses and saw thousands of bookings from the USA, Canada and Sweden. First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Scotland is the undisputed home of golf – we have the best courses in the world and facilities that are second to none. “Golf is a key theme of our Homecoming celebrations and Drive it Home has the potential to attract more than 8,000 international golfers to Scotland. “It offers a great opportunity to entice visitors to Scotland, boost the economy and to promote Scotland’s position as the world’s premier golf destination.” It is estimated that the average international golfer will spend £1,790 on a trip and VisitScotland is to run the promotion again this month. VisitScotland’s director of visitor

engagement Malcolm Roughead said: “Golf tourism is vital to the Scottish economy, generating millions of pounds and the fact that all of the foursomes have been snapped up already is fantastic news as we approach the second phase of the promotion. “Scotland, like every other country, is facing global economic pressures so this is a fantastic opportunity to help boost the economy during Homecoming year, of which golf is a significant theme.” Golf Tourism Scotland’s interim chairman Nick Hunter added: "This initiative has the potential to generate awareness of the breadth and depth of the superb golf facilities available across Scotland and convey this message to the United States and other key overseas markets. “We believe there are benefits to be gained from increased media coverage for Scottish golf, as well as the potential opportunity for those courses taking part, to pickup substantial new business.”

First Minister Alex Salmond and VisitScotland’s golf ambassador Sam Torrance perfecting their putt at Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club, Kirknewton, Edinburgh

Silver award for tourism offices

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Tourism attraction Lakes Aquarium has expanded its marketing team with the appointment of its first internet specialist. Oliver Scott-Mumby has taken up a role as internet officer for Lakes Aquarium and its two sister parks Oceanarium Bournemouth and Blackpool Zoo, which are owned by the Parques Reunidos UK group. His remit is to develop internet business generated through the websites by increasing the attractions rankings in the major search engines.

BOURNEMOUTH and Poole tourism offices have earned a silver award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme. The scheme is a sustainable tourism certification project which has over 1,400 members. Businesses opting to join are assessed against a set of criteria including energy and water efficiency, waste management and biodiversity.

Berenice Webb, sustainability co-ordinator for Bournemouth Tourism, said; “Sustainability and green issues are now very much mainstream with governments, businesses and individuals all involved. Tourism, as one of the main economic drivers in the UK has its part to play and that is where the Green Tourism Business Scheme comes in – we are delighted to be receiving the silver award.”


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The 22nd of April 2009 marks the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne. Historic Royal Palaces will be dedicating the whole year to marking the lasting legacy of the mighty monarch with permanent representations, temporary exhibitions and thought-provoking debate. At Hampton Court Palace in 2009 and beyond we will be hosting the wedding party for Henry’s marriage to Kateryn Parr - his sixth wife. Becoming a wedding guest will give visitors a fantastic family-friendly experience, with lots to see and do. The palace will be made ready for the wedding with lavishly dressed rooms throughout the Tudor route, including feasting in the Great Hall and debates in the newlyopened Council Chamber. Whether seeing the palace front decked out in splendour, passing warders in their new Tudor inspired uniform, or meeting a live Henry and Kateryn on site every day, visitors will revel in this moment of history that happened at Hampton Court in 1543. Part of this will be taking place on the ‘pybbylls’ of the newly re-cobbled Base Court, part of the permanent representation of the Tudor areas of Hampton Court Palace that will remain beyond 2009. Divorced, Beheaded, Died; Divorced, Beheaded, Survived. Chances are you’ll have heard this before. This little rhyme about Henry’s matrimonial consumption serves to remind us that Henry’s wives played an important part in the story of the Tudor dynasty, and each deserves the space to tell their own story. We will be bringing together – for the first time at Hampton Court – six rarely seen 16th-century portraits of each of the wives, and hanging them in the Council Chamber. They will

be joined there by portraits of Henry VIII, and Henry’s other women, his favourite sister Mary, and his daughters.There will also be some rather evocative objects, from a lock of Kateryn Parr’s hair, to the music book written for Anne Boleyn by one of her alleged lovers. But these are just some of the things that will be happening at Historic Royal Palaces to mark Henry’s anniversary year. There’s lots more to come, including an academic conference, public lecture series and multimedia content. For more details of the Tudor events as well as the other presentations, contact the Travel Trade Sales Office on +44 (0)20 3166 6311 or groupsandtraveltrade@hrp.org.uk or visit the website at www.hrp.org.uk


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Call to unite to promote areas to new visitors By Dominic Musgrave The Best Western Valley Hotel in Ironbridge Telford has been named the overall winner in the 2009 Hotel Awards. Independent assessments from the AA and regional tourist boards and feedback from customers and guests was used to decide the Valley as winner, with the highest customer satisfaction and quality ratings.

Increase in bookings ACTIVITY holiday company HF Holidays has reported a 13 per cent increase in bookings this year compared with the same month last year. The company – which has an annual turnover of £19m – runs 17 country houses and offers walking, exploration and cycling

holiday. CEO Brian Smith said the company was benefiting from increased interest in health and fitness and a growing percentage of tourists who want to learn new skills such as painting, digital photography or dancing on holiday.

A DEVON tourism company is appealing for others in the area to join a campaign to promote the area to new visitors. Gina Woodcraft, chief executive of Cartwheel Holidays, says it is crucial businesses work together to ensure more people choose to holiday in Devon and Cornwall in the wake of the current financial climate. She said: “We know that competition is going to be fierce, but do you work together or compete and do your own thing? “I want us to put our best possible offering forward because more people will be

choosing to holiday in this country this year, but we want them to feel they have made a positive choice by doing so. “The region is still the hottest in the UK, but we know that the likes of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales are doing all they can to change that, and we need to create the best showcase we possibly can.” Cartwheel – a non-profit organisation – has already relaunched its website, listing accommodation across the region. But Gina wants other businesses to add their details to the site to create a ‘one-stop’ place for would-be holiday-makers. “I want the new website to

pull people in further because when they consider booking their holiday they have already imagined what a place will be like,” she added. “There is a lot to consider in the decision making process. People like to know what they can do, and get a feel of the locality because they may not want to take the car out every day. “The aim of the website is to share local knowledge so that would-be visitors have an idea of where they can get good food and drink without having to follow the usual tourist trail. It would be similar to when people go to say France and eat where the locals do.”

DESTINATIONSCARBOROUGH

Cashing in on weak pound TOURISM in Scarborough is set for a successful 2009 as the area cashes in on the weak pound, it has been claimed. Janet Deacon, tourism manager for Scarborough Council, told Destination UK that bookings are up and enquiries are higher than they were at this point in 2008. She said: “Early indications show that 2009 will be a good year for tourism in the area. It was a mixed bag last year and the weather didn’t help but we think things will be different this year. “We are all looking at how we can add value to what we do and take advantage of the pound against the Euro. Research is already showing that more people are going to stay in the UK for their holiday this year.” Janet said the area’s main selling points are its heritage and culture and outdoor activity opportunities, as well as well-known visitor attractions like the Sea Life Centre

and the Stephen Joseph Theatre. “Scarborough is a very strong brand and has been for a long time, although nearby areas like Whitby are coming into their own now too. People from the South are amazed at how beautiful the area is when they visit and our market is definitely growing from these areas.” Janet said that as well as keeping hold of the traditional Scarborough visitor they are also targeting the younger generation, who spend money in the upmarket cafes and bistros that are rapidly appearing in the town. A burgeoning surf culture in Scarborough is also helping to attract the younger market. Janet added: “The short break and day visitor rate has increased and the spend certainly has too. We have held our own against other coastal towns over recent years and we hope to do the same in 2009.”

One Foot In The Grave star Richard Wilson has visited Scarborough as part of his new TV series. The town is featured in BBC4 show Britain’s Best Drives, where Richard described it as ‘as British as sausage and mash or Winston Churchill’. The programme is based around a series of 1950s classic drives from around the UK.

Summer at the Stephen Joseph Theatre

THE season opens with Moonlight and Magnolias by Ron Hutchinson which runs from 30 April – 27 June. It’s 1939, the week in which Hollywood producer David O Selznick could make or break his career. Production has shut down on Gone with the Wind. With help from director Victor Fleming and script writer Ben Hecht, they knuckle down for a week of frantic pressure, deadlines and big expectations. Alan Ayckbourn’s classic farce How The Other Half Loves returns to Scarborough for the first time in 40 years. This comedy about three couples will run from 4 June – 29 August. The Pirates of Penzance is given a modern twist in Chris Monks’ adaptation which runs from 2 July – 22 August. 12


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DESTINATIONCENTRESTAGE

Goldberg introduces a new star ...

Sheila Hancock stars as the Mother Superior

IN 1992 the movie Sister Act became an international blockbuster grossing over $230m worldwide. The movie starred screen legend Whoopi Goldberg as disco diva Deloris Van Cartier, who after witnessing a murder is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be found – a convent. Despite her objections to the austere way of life, (and her new name of Sister Mary Clarence), she finds a role as an unlikely choir mistress. Under her instruction, she inspires a group of loveable, if tuneless nuns to become a lean, mean singing machine and discovers much more about herself on the way. Now, after a year-long global search, the producers of hit musical Hairspray and Whoopi Goldberg, in her new capacity as co-producer, are thrilled to introduce a brand new star. When hot, new talent Patina Miller walked into the audition room in Los Angeles, director Peter

Patina Miller, new star of Sister Act, with executive producer Whoopi Goldberg Picture: Joan Marcus

Schneider immediately knew from her presence and stand out voice that he had found the new Deloris. “This girl is going to be a star. True stars carry their lights with them. Everywhere they go, somehow they’re just lit”. Starring alongside Patina and presiding over the convent in the coveted role of Mother Superior is TV and theatre favourite Sheila Hancock, who was last seen on stage in her Olivier Award-winning role in Cabaret. Dad’s Army and EastEnders actor Ian Lavender

also stars as ‘Monsignor Howard’. A brand new Deloris is not the only thing fresh about the show. Alan Menken, eight-time Academy Award winner for his film scores such as Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and, most recently, the hit movie Enchanted, has penned a brand new disco-inspired song book for the occasion with songs such as Take Me to Heaven and Fabulous Baby guaranteed to raise the roof at the London Palladium from May.

Star of TV’s Gavin and Stacey, Joanna Page has joined the cast of the Vagina Monologues for a five-night run at Wales Millennium Centre. She starred alongside two other Wales-born celebrities Margaret John and Sian Lloyd in the production which is now in its 10th year of performances throughout the UK – having been seen by more than 2m people.

Panto pulls in the crowds

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Legendary singer Jimmy Osmond has taken on the role of Billy Flynn in the UK national tour of smash-hit musical Chicago. The show which opened in March and appears at venues around the country until June also stars former Eastenders star Emma Barton as Roxie Hart. Tour dates include York Grand Opera House, New Theatre Oxford, Regent Theatre Stoke-on-Trent and Leicester De Montfort Hall.

SHEFFIELD Theatres and Evolutions Production’s 2008 pantomime Aladdin proved to be a massive box office hit – beating sales of 2007’s Cinderella which was seen by over 46,000 people. The show starred Phil Daniels as Abanazar, Kevin Sacre as Aladdin and Sheffield comic Bobby Knutt as the Chinese Policeman. Executive producer Mark Feakins said: “We have been absolutely delighted with the response to

Aladdin, especially in the current economic climate, showing us that the Lyceum pantomime is not a luxury item for people in the festive season but a necessity. “The cast, production team, and theatre staff have pulled out all the stops to ensure that our second home produced pantomime with Evolution is a great deal of fun, a fantastic shared experience for audiences and a huge success at the box office.”


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DESTINATIONCENTRESTAGE

Discount tickets will bring West End boom – claims expert By Christina Eccles WEST End productions will boom this year as discounted tickets draw even more visitors into the theatre, an expert has claimed. CEO of seatwave.com Joe Cohen said the amount of people buying tickets via the secondary market has grown – and as more tickets appear on the site, the competition gets fiercer and prices are driven down. He said: “We’ve seen the number of people buying their theatre tickets on our exchange explode, but we’ve also seen the average price being paid for a ticket decreasing by over 25 per cent. “As we have got more tickets for sale on the exchange, there is more competition and sellers are competing on price. “We now have 800,000 tickets and as more tickets are added, sellers are driving prices down. This is a big win for consumers. “The secondary market’s providing more access for fans, even for the sold-out shows, at a lower cost. Great news in our current climate. With talents like Jude Law taking to the stage in Hamlet this May, we’re expecting this trend to continue.” Joe also said how he thought this trend would affect the industry and the more traditional way of booking tickets through theatre box offices. He added: “I think we will see see lots of deals being done and a lot of shows getting filled up. There have been some empty seats but as discounting is becoming more popular, there will be an increase in the number of people going to the

Former Coronation Street star Bill Ward will take the lead role in the Northern Stage production of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger. Bill – who will play Jimmy Porter – will be joined on stage by Nia Gwynne as Alison, Laura Howard as Helena and Rob Storr as Cliff. The production opened at Northern Stage on March 6 prior to a six week national tour. Joe Cohen theatre. “The box office has to figure out how it will remain relevant. They need to figure out how to compete and may decide to hand the business of selling tickets to people like us.” This year’s top selling show so far on the site is Lionel Bart’s newly opened West End production of Oliver! with other popular choices including Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia – which has been boosted by the recent film version – Hamlet starring David Tennant and The Sound of Music.

Sell-out show heads for London JET Set Go! – a sell-out show at last year’s Edinburgh Festival – will be on at London’s Jermyn Street Theatre from March 31 to April 18. The show takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the lives of those working in the skies, with a host of characters, including the Puerto Rican stewardess Julia, who has a lover in every country, and the idealistic Ryan, who longingly dreams of his perfect guy. Produced by Take Note Theatre in association with Jermyn Street Theatre, Jet Set Go! has book and lyrics by Jake Brunger, music and lyrics by Pippa Cleary, and is directed and choreographed by Luke Sheppard.

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DESTINATIONNEWS

City aiming to cash in on comedy By Christina Eccles

The Museum of Kent Life is to have new attractions installed ready for a spring opening. The heritage farm attraction will have a themed outdoor adventure play area, an indoor play barn, a cuddle corner, new animals and animal racing, plus a new admissions area and gift shop. The site is now managed by Continuum, the group behind the Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth and The Real Mary King's Close in Edinburgh.

A NEW festival taking place in Bath is aiming to cash in on the city’s comedy connections to bring in more visitors. The Bath Comedy Festival will join Bath’s vibrant festival scene which includes the Bath Literature Festival, Fringe Festival and International Music Festival and according to organiser Alex Timms, the event will appeal to both residents and tourists, with an estimated 10,000 expected to attend. He said: “Bath is a tourist city so we have designed the festival to appeal to local residents and also tourists. Our dream is to make Bath the home of comedy and to hold an annual celebration of the art of making people laugh.” Bath was chosen as the ideal location for a comedy festival as it is home to talent such as Bill Bailey, Bizarre Bath and the Natural Theatre Company, as well as having historic venues and Georgian

architecture, making the city an ideal backdrop for street theatre. Alex added: “There hasn’t been an event in Bath which is comedy based and there is also a really burgeoning comedy industry. From a cultural point of view, comedy is the happening area and we are filling a niche in the market. “The festival has really caught the imagination of the people of Bath but also of the comedy industry. “Some venues have filled up very quickly so we will be looking to expand next year. We want the festival to become an annual event.” The event appropriately kicks off on April Fools’ Day with a programme which includes stand up comedy performances at various venues in the city and outdoor street theatre. Organisers hope that if this year’s event is successful, they will be able to expand the outdoor element of the event with more street theatre and possibly an outdoor stage area.

Hotel to become part of company

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THE four-star Makeney Hall in Belper, Derbyshire, is to become part of newly formed hospitality company Mulbourn Limited. The hotel will join other properties saved by Mulbourn following a management buy-out of 18 former Folio Hotels. Mulbourn has agreed to take on the hotel’s lease and will manage the hotel which will continue to trade under the Folio Hotels banner. The former Folio Hotels was forced into administration at the beginning of December due to bad timing between the completion of an extensive refurbishment programme and the beginning of the current recessionary environment together with rents which were negotiated at the height of the market.

A new five-star hotel has joined NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau – the specialist business tourism team which attracts conferences to the destination. Rockliffe Hall is due to open at the

end of this year and has 67 luxury bedrooms and banqueting facilities for up to 250 guests. Jessica Roberts, head of business tourism at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, said: “It is positive news

during these tougher economic times that such major investment is being made in North East England’s business tourist infrastructure and is a reflection of the destination’s development in business tourism.”

Rise in family self-catering holidays NEW research has shown a growth in families clubbing together to have UKbased self-catering holidays. Ethical travel company responsibletravel.com says its website has seen an 81 per cent year on year increase in the number of people enquiring about self catering eco

accommodation for groups of up to ten people. Justin Francis, co-founder, said: "Clubbing together for a group holiday can be a great money-saving solution, particularly for those with young children – kids will have their friends around them and parents can take

turns with the babysitting." responsibletravel.com has seen a 54 per cent year on year increase in selfcatering holidays in general. Justin added: “There's no doubt that self-catering holidays can be much cheaper and certainly offer greater flexibility."


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This new exhibition, over all three floors of the iconic White Tower, will bring together at the Tower of London, for the first time since the reign of Elizabeth I, the largest number of objects and items known to have belonged to Henry VIII. Exploring Henry the Sportsman, Henry the King and Henry the Warrior. The exhibition will feature loans from international collections as well the Royal Armouries, including key paintings from Henry's reign. Each object will be displayed with spectacular new lighting, as well as audio and visual material, enabling visitors to get closer to these objects than has ever been possible before.

Five hundred years ago, a tall slim seventeen year old prince who loved weapons and sport became King of England. Thirty seven years later Henry VIII died, his corpse bloated and scarred with the sores and ulcers of time. During his reign, England had changed almost as much as the King’s body. At home and abroad, for good or ill, Henry had left his mark as a sportsman, warrior and monarch. Journey back with Henry through his historic reign at this spectacular exhibition of his armour and weapons brought together for the first time in modern history, at Henry’s own palace and fortress the Tower of London. ‘Henry: Dressed to Kill’, will invite visitors at the Tower to a show revealing what all 16th century Kings will be wearing on the battlefield this year. From April to October see what’s hitting the catwalk with the latest designs for codpieces, jousting armour and horse armour.

For more details of the Tudor events as well as the other presentations, contact the Travel Trade Sales Office on +44 (0)20 3166 6311 or groupsandtraveltrade@hrp.org.uk or visit the website at www.hrp.org.uk


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DESTINATIONBEST OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND TRAVEL TRADE FORUM

Christopher Rodriguez

Experts to address hot domestic topics HIGH-PROFILE figures from government, media, leading trade organisations and Britain and Ireland’s national tourism organisations will be among the experts addressing the hottest topics in domestic tourism this year. Visitors to the Best of Britain and Ireland Travel Trade Forum can take part in a programme of seminars and workshops, which bring together the cream of the industry in a series of hard-hitting discussion sessions. Topics will include the effect of the recession, sustainable tourism, making the most of 2012 and the state of our service industry.

Speakers include Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of VisitBritain, Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association and Telegraph travel editor Graham Boynton. ‘Tourism question time’ will give visitors the chance to quiz political leaders including Barbara Follett, Don Foster and Tobias Ellwood. Registered trade can pre-book their spaces on the seminar and workshops programme using the personal agenda planner, which also allows appointments to be made with exhibitors and trade professionals.

Buyers from more than 30 countries to visit event THE Best of Britain and Ireland Travel Trade Forum will enable the industry to take advantage of overseas buyers, as the weak pound promises to boost inbound tourism to Britain. Buyers from over 30 international markets, including Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Africa UAE and USA will be visiting the event, which takes place at London’s ExCeL Centre. Many of the delegations will also be taking part in familiarisation visits organised by VisitBritain, taking in the four nations and the

regions of England to receive firsthand experience of some of the attractions, services and destinations. Highlights of the event will include a series of targeted seminars and workshops addressing the hot topics facing the tourism industry. Mike Bedingfield, marketing director of VisitBritain – who have helped organise the event – said: “Britain has never been more affordable for overseas visitors and it is vital that we support the trade to make the most of this opportunity in the current economic climate.”

The Heritage Railway A ride on a steam train or a visit to a railway centre appeals to all types of people, offering nostalgia to some and historical technology to others. Each railway is different and has something original to offer. In many cases the pleasure of refreshments on the train whilst viewing the scenery is an added treat. Visit our website www.heritagerailways.com or for copies of our travel trade manual or supplies of our leaflet Steam and Tourist Railways in Great Britain and Ireland.

Information from hrapress@hra.gb.com or contact: The Heritage Railway Association, 10 Hurdeswell, Long Hanborough, Witney, OX29 8DH. 18


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DESTINATIONBEST OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND TRAVEL TRADE FORUM

Blue Badge Tourist Guides LET a Blue Badge Tourist Guide show you the best of Britain. Blue Badge tourist guides are professionally trained, registered and insured and are well known for being the best in the industry. We offer tours on foot, by coach, minibus or car and in your chosen language. We make sure our tours are informative whilst being fun and entertaining. We offer everything from local walking tours to fully escorted tours of Britain. We can also help teachers bring the curriculum to life with tours specifically put together for your group.

Call us or have a look at our searchable database of guides on www.blue-badge-guides.com, 020 7403 1115

Something for every visitor JERSEY and Guernsey are the two largest Channel Islands, closer to the coast of France than the UK they offer a perfect continental style holiday whilst still using the Pound. There is something for every visitor, from varied active breaks including watersports, walking and cycling to pampered trips in the many luxury spas and restaurants. Easily and affordably accessible, the Channel Islands are under an hour away from regional airports across the UK with Flybe. Alternatively, travel by sea from Portsmouth, Poole and Weymouth with Condor Ferries.

Contact Robin Segal, sales manager, Jersey Tourism on 020 7808 3822, robin.segal@jersey.com or visit the website www.jersey.com/trade.

Groupline

THE quality and variety of productions in the West End is renowned throughout the world and is one of London’s greatest assets. LOVEtheatre/Group Line will be promoting many of the exciting current and upcoming shows on their stand at the Best of Britain and Ireland 2009. Specialising in supplying tickets to both group organisers and tour operators, the company is the UK’s favourite ticket agency having secured eleven ‘Best Ticket Agent’ awards. Amongst the shows being promoted on Stand 110V are the brand new stage production of Whoopi Goldberg’s smash hit film Sister Act and London’s most colourful show, Joseph, which now stars Gareth Gates. Stand number – Visit London 110V

Contact details: Group organisers – 020 7580 6793, www.groupline.com Tour operators – 020 7907 7057, www.lovetheatre.travel

Hever Castle celebrates Henry in 2009

HISTORY comes to life at Hever Castle in 2009, as the castle celebrates the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s (1509-1547) accession to the throne. The castle has announced a list of special activities for this year including Roses and Herbs Past and Present in June and The Tudor Celebrations with jousting, archery and a hog roast in July. Hever Castle is renowned for its walled rose garden and the new event Roses and Herbs Past and Present is perfect for all garden lovers. Neil Miller, head gardener, will be giving tours in the rose garden and advice on growing roses and Caroline Jackson, lecturer at Hadlow College will also have a display of herbs used since Tudor times for culinary and medical purposes. With the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s (1509-1547) accession to the throne, Hever Castle is putting on an array of activities to celebrate this momentous occasion. Groups will have the chance to participate in the medieval sporting activities as they can put their skills to the test in ‘Have a go Archery’.

This season the gardens will open half an hour earlier at 10.30am and the gates close at 6pm. To book any of the events telephone bookings on 01732 861701.

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DESTINATIONNEWS

Holiday firm heading for bumper year By Nicola Hyde A SCOTTISH holiday firm is on track for a record-breaking bumper year with sales already 25 per cent ahead of last year. Glenton Holidays reported a record turnover of more than £5m in 2008, carrying 30,000 passengers. But the company’s expansion in Scotland and North East England is expected to reach 40,000 this year. Commercial director Steve Turbill said: “Last year was our best ever – however, the strength of our bookings so far this year has taken us by surprise as people are increasingly choosing to holiday in the UK. “Also, with a coach holiday, customers can budget more easily, as most costs are included such as excursions, accommodation and meals. “We have added 17 more departure points across Scotland to cope with rising demand and have just launched a programme of tours

from the North East of England.” Glenton was founded in 2005 by coach industry executives Steve Turbill, Harriet Stamp and Paul Bennett. Steve and Harriet both came from senior roles in the coach holiday business, and Paul established coaching specialist The UK Holiday Group in 1984. Operations director Harriet said: “We have seen great success because we offer something different. “Customers appreciate the fact that holiday insurance is included in the price and there are no hidden extras. Most holidays have no single room supplements, and we are the only company in Scotland to offer that.” The Coach Tourism Council, which represents 150 of the UK’s leading coach tour operators and coach holiday booking agencies, says bookings for coach day trips, short breaks and longer holidays for early 2009 have increased by up to 20 per cent.

Business destination push THE Northwest is to be marketed as a business tourism destination as part of a £2m scheme. A quality accreditation scheme tailored for the conference and meetings industry will be introduced to the five tourist boards in the Northwest. The cash will be used to identify new business opportunities and bid for major international conferences, as well as improving marketing. Nick Brooks-Sykes, head of tourism marketing at the Northwest Development Agency, said: “The

visitor economy in the Northwest relies heavily on the performance of the business tourism sector, so it is vital that we continue to invest in its success. As well as the substantial direct and indirect revenue gained from hosting meetings, exhibitions and incentives, business tourism has knock-on benefits including the promotion of future leisure travel and inward investment opportunities in the region.” Business tourism generates 25.6m trips a year worth £2.1b to the area.

Shrewsbury is launching a new campaign to encourage more coach operators and group travel organisers to the area. A new, self-guided town-centre trail for 2009 called Where to find Spring Flowers, follows the area’s recent gold medal wins for its blooming displays.

Operator in £50m development plan HOLIDAY park operator Ocean Parcs has revealed plans to spend £50m in developing and refurbishing its sites. The company – owner of Pontins – says the first stage will be to overhaul the entertainment, catering and bar facilities. The Brean Sands and Prestatyn Sands sites will be completely refurbished with the next generation of guest accommodation; Camber Sands and Southport will be completely re-built and Pakefield Holiday Centre near Lowestoft will double in size. Ian Smith, chief executive of Ocean Parcs, said: “We are tremendously excited about the investment planned for the development of our Pontin’s Holiday Centres and the employment and tourism revenue that will be generated by this substantial investment.

“It is particularly rewarding to be able to announce these plans which will not only generate increased tourism but create over 2000 new jobs whilst the country is in a recession.” The company has been working on a redesign of its holiday centres for the last nine months. Clarke Osborne, property director, added: ‘’We have been working on our next generation of holiday centres for over nine months and I think that the results of this careful design strategy will be very well received by both our extensive and loyal customer base and new customers that are joining us each year. “We have commenced dialogue with some of our local councils, business leaders and planners and received encouraging responses.”

Shakespeare Country celebrated the region’s award winners at a special event at the Menzies Welcombe Hotel Spa and Golf Club last month. Around 30 businesses attended The Best of Shakespeare Country event which was organised to congratulate all the businesses on their award wins. Shakespeare Country will be promoting the winners and highly commended businesses on a special feature on its website. Phil Hackett, chief executive, said: “We are immensely proud that so many local businesses have achieved success in both national and regional awards. It was an honour to celebrate with them. All our winners are instrumental in delivering a truly high quality experience for our visitors and ensuring that Shakespeare Country continues to be a great place to visit.” 21


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DESTINATIONYORK

Hotel plan for former railway company offices A NEW hotel is being developed in York as part of plans to convert the former North East Railway company offices. Mackenzie Wheeler’s design will transform the neglected grade two listed office building into the city’s first five star hotel. The proposal, for Acropolis Properties, will remove more modern alterations to restore it back to its former glory. The open spaces on the ground and first floors of the west wing will be devoted to lobby, dining and function rooms, while all other

Last year's Tourism Awards with Sister Agatha, Harry Gration and previous Ambassador Dion Bekatorus.

Tourism award deadline passes THE deadline has closed for entries for the 2009 York Tourism Awards, organised by Visit York. The winners will be chosen from 16 categories including Best Visitor Attraction and Best Visitor Experience, as well as the award for the 2009 Ambassador for Tourism. BBC Look North presenter Harry Gration will be presenting the awards to the winners at a ceremony at York Racecourse in April.

York Minster

A VISIT to York Minster is your moment in a story going back to Roman Britain and forward to the future of northern Europe’s largest Gothic Cathedral. Below the floor in the Undercroft, you will find the remains of Emperor Constantine’s Roman military headquarters, and the foundations of a Norman cathedral swept away to build today’s Minster. From the top of the tower you’ll see an amazing vista of the city rooftops with the Yorkshire Moors and Dales in the distance. During 2009 there will be chances to tour the ancient library, the amazing Stoneyard where presentday craftsmen and women keep mediaeval skills alive, and the glaziers’ studio where the Great East Window is being carefully restored. And of course all are welcome to attend services at York Minster – often including the renowned choir and organ – free of charge. See www.yorkminster.org for details of admission prices, opening and service times, and to see the programme of evening concerts at York Minster this year.

Sales contact for group bookings Howard Mosley, York Minster Visitors’ Department, St William’s College, College Street, York YO1 7JF. 01904 557216 groups@yorkminster.org

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Gillian Cruddas, chief executive of Visit York said: “The Tourism Awards reflect the high quality of customer care that is given to York’s four million visitors – an essential ingredient for encouraging visitors to come back again and again. In these challenging economic times it is more important than ever that York promotes quality and excellence among businesses employed in tourism.”

floors are to be hotel accommodation, creating 107 guest rooms and suites. Duncan Mackenzie said: “This project is a chance to reinvigorate one of York’s important historic buildings and provide the city with a much-needed five-star hotel. This new use also gives public access to the interior of the building and is more appropriate than the former office use for which the building was designed, given contemporary demands for more flexible office accommodation.”


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DESTINATIONYORK

£130m business tourism boost BUSINESS tourism in York generated over £130m for the city’s economy over just one year, according to new figures. A survey by Visit York showed a massive increase from £98m in 2006, due to an increase in the number of business bookings and an increase in the average residential rate. Twenty venues across York took part in the year long survey during 2008. The main aim was to record the types of business events happening in the city and to provide the best possible estimates for volume and value of the market. The survey also found that, based on regional and UK averages, York’s conference delegates were more likely to be staying overnight than other delegates attending conferences in the rest of the region. Over 1.3 million delegates attended events in York, generating over 1.8 million delegate days – an increase from the previous year.

Whatever you’re planning it’s best to talk to us first

COMPLETE York offer a range of services aimed at helping people wanting to get more out of a visit. From treasure hunts and costumed tours, to school groups and conference talks. Our York Badge qualified guides can make your stay more enjoyable. Whatever you’re planning it’s best to talk to us first. We can supply foreign speaking guides and couriers for an hour or a day, or longer. Theme tours are our speciality. Roman, Viking, executioner? No problem. We also take care of conference talks or lectures and organise treasure hunts for team building and hen parties. Take a look at our web site or give us a call to see what Complete York can do for you.

Tel 07707 892747, info@completeyork.com, www.completeyork.com

Kate McMullen, marketing manager for Visit York said: “We are delighted by these results. Conferences and meetings generate important revenue for York and we should not underestimate the economic impact that business tourism has on the city. “This is a market with growth potential, particularly as the results show that York can attract more overnight stays in this market than most other UK destinations. We need now to build on our success so far and to strengthen our offer to conference organisers.”

Delve in the darkest chapters of history

THE York Dungeon invites you to a unique feast of fun with history’s horrible bits. Live actors, shows and special effects transport you back to those black, bleak times. Are you brave enough to delve into the darkest chapters of history? Travel to the dark depths of the dungeons of York Prison, where murderer, thief and torturer Dick Turpin the infamous highwayman is incarcerated as he waits for death at the gallows. Meet the notorious Viking leader Erik Bloodaxe, wander through the Plague ravaged streets and the 17th century judge knows exactly what you have been up to - the court isn’t impressed and the punishment will be harsh. You could be left to languish in the rat infested Dungeon, or be given a gruesome task to perform, but who knows who the judge will pick on. In the most haunted city in England, come and experience the presence of ghosts which will chill your very bones as you stand in the silent yet chilling air. Warning: The York Dungeon is not recommended for those of a nervous disposition or young children. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

For further information telephone: 01904 632 599 Website: www.thedungeons.com

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Dewar’s World of Whisky offers a true Highland welcome to groups.

From May 1 until July 31, group organisers can look forward to an even warmer welcome for their customers at Dewar’s World of Whisky at Aberfeldy Distillery. By registering with the Perthshire five star visitor centre’s scheme and booking visits in advance, organisers can ensure that all members of their parties will receive a complimentary 5cl miniature of Dewar’s 12 year old deluxe blended whisky. Jane Grimley, general manager, said: “All we seem to be hearing at the moment is doom and gloom – we wanted to spread a bit of cheer. Of course, we always encourage our visitors to drink Dewar’s whiskies responsibly, but above all we want them to enjoy their visit and remember it for the truly special place it is.” Dewar’s World of Whisky is recognised as one of Scotland’s foremost whisky visitor centres, featuring an atmospheric and interactive heritage exhibition, guided tours of the traditional Aberfeldy Distillery, brand store and coffee shop.

Group organisers can register with the scheme by emailing worldofwhisky@dewars.com, calling 01887 822010, or by signing up at the Dewar’s World of Whisky stand at the VisitScotland Expo trade fair in April, with registration closing on April 23, the last day of the event.

Fountain Court Apartment Group

Fountain Court is Edinburgh’s largest and finest serviced apartment group. With 120 apartments, all within four city centre locations, our four and five star apartments are places you can feel at home in. Our properties lie in the heart of the Financial District in Edinburgh’s West End, near Haymarket Station, the EICC, and Princes Street. Apartments can be booked from one night onwards and offer superb value for money. Serviced daily and offering the flexibility of your own kitchen and lounge, these apartments really do provide the style of a hotel with all the comforts of home.

Sales contact details: Caroline McIntosh, 0131 622 6677, caroline.mcintosh@fcapartments.com, www.fcapartments.com Stand Number: D6

Castle publicising its Homecoming event DUNVEGAN Castle will be exhibiting at the Scottish Expo in order to publicise its Homecoming events, which will be held throughout 2009. The venue will be hosting a number of activities including Talisker whisky tasting in May, lectures from journalist, broadcaster and author Professor James Hunter and the Skye Fireworks Display in November. The castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in

Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for nearly 800 years. Visitors are also able to view displays of oil paintings and clan treasures including the Fairy Flag and the Dunvegan Cup which dates back to the middle ages. The venue also offers estate tours, seal spotting cruises and fishing trips for tourists visiting the area.

Orocco Pier is not just a stopping off point.It is a destination in itself. Our events venue, fuchsia is designed to make all occasions special. The panorama of the river between the two giant bridges is truly unique, and the large picture windows and private decking area are complemented by a simple, stylish interior design. Events we regularly host include ceilidhs, dinner dances, social evenings, weddings, birthday celebrations, conferences and seminars, product launches, training days and board meetings. The possibilities are endless. Conferencing at Orocco Pier offer stress free Facilities these include a digital projector, desktop overhead projector, flip charts, WiFi broadband, DVD, video, and a full PA and audio system with cordless microphones and table stands.

Tel: 0870 118 1664, info@oroccopier.co.uk, www.oroccopier.co.uk

Encounter Amur tigers and much more Come and discover Scottish wildlife and animals of the world’s mountain and tundra regions. Situated in the Cairngorms National Park only 7 miles south of Aviemore, the Park is run by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. Encounter Amur tigers, bison, yaks, capercaillie, wildcats, wolves, snow monkeys and, arriving summer 2009, polar bear. Drive round our Main Reserve and discover the rest of the Park on foot. We welcome groups, and can provide guided tours when booked in advance. We are open daily from 10am year round and have a café, gift shop, animal talks, picnic area and coach parking on site. 24


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DESTINATIONSCOTTISH EXPO PREVIEW

Event grows greener ... By Nicola Hyde THIS year’s event looks set to be the most environmentally friendly ever, following the release of the organiser’s ‘Green Mission Statement’. Its aim is to improve the show by minimising the environmental impact of the event and using all resources as efficiently as possible.

Organisers have pledged to specially highlight green and sustainable tourism businesses, reduce waste and recycle or use recycled products wherever possible. All food products at the show will be sourced locally and organically in order to reduce food miles and visitors are being encouraged to travel in groups whenever they can to minimise single passenger journeys.

Explorer Tours Brazilians nuts about Scotland Highland Highland Explorer Tours, part of the Radical Travel Group, operate five star BRAZILIAN tour operators have been selling new trips to Scotland after attending last year’s VisitScotland Expo. One of the most popular is a Harley Davidson motorbike tour of Scotland. RCA Tourismo, a Brazilian tour operator, included two new Scottish package holidays after attending the show last year. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Skye will be featured in some of the new tours. Marcelo Barone, owner of RCA Tourismo, said: "For Brazilians, Scotland is synonymous with whisky and history, but what I had the

opportunity to see was a country with beautiful, breath-taking landscapes, and warm and friendly people. "Although geographically far apart, there is a great deal of potential for building a strong tourism relationship between Scotland and Brazil – the two countries have a great deal in common, from lively people to great food." VisitScotland Expo stimulated interest in running bespoke Glasgow/Edinburgh holidays and RCA Turismo are now offering ‘twin city’ holiday packages to the two cities to visitors from Brazil.

quality tours of Scotland, departing from Edinburgh. With local guides, guaranteed departures, quality Mercedes Benz coaches and fantastic routes, we offer unforgettable experiences in Scotland. We believe in delivering great value experiences – every day and on every tour. * Groups of 4+ save ten per cent * Discounted child prices from £25, (aged 5 -16), we also include a free Explorer activity pack for children * Discounted prices for seniors from £25 (over 60) * Free 'Taste of Scotland' picnic lunch on Loch Ness Day Tours

Sales contact details Craig Irving, 0131 558 2344, reservations 0131 558 3738, www.highlandexplorertours.com

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DESTINATIONSCOTTISH EXPO PREVIEW

Over 200 exhibitors head for Glasgow event By Nicola Hyde THE only business to business event tailored towards the Scottish tourism industry is to be held in Glasgow in April. VisitScotland Expo – at the SECC – will feature more than 200 exhibitors, encompassing tourism products, including hotels, transport operators, restaurants and visitor attractions. Organisers say the show, now in its 29th year, offers the perfect environment to meet contacts and discuss business opportunities with

domestic and international buyers from across Europe, the USA and the Far East. Jacobite Cruises, a Loch Ness tour company, has been a regular presence since attending their first Expo in Aviemore in 1984. Rod Michie, director of Jacobite, is looking forward to attending this year’s event. He said: “From a networking perspective, it’s a great way to promote ourselves and introduce new products to the industry. “As new markets emerge, it is important to us to have a presence

at Expo. It has directly given us an introduction to the Chinese market and hopefully that will grow for us.” This year a stylish evening networking event will take place at the end of the first day. This will be held over three levels of creative space within the Glasgow Science Centre, bringing together exhibitors, buyers and journalists to meet over drinks, fine Scottish cuisine and live music and entertainment. The event will be held on April 22 to 23.

Last year’s show

New deal for travel trade SCOTLAND’S leading conservation charity has teamed up with Dumfries House to offer a new deal to the travel trade. The National Trust for Scotland is giving tour and coach operators the chance to visit its Threave Garden, Broughton House and Dumfries House at a reduced rate of £19.50 per person, at their stand at Visit Scotland Expo. Pietro Cecchini, national travel trade manager at the National Trust for Scotland, said: “With more people planning to holiday at home this year, there has never been a better opportunity

to showcase Scotland’s treasures. “By joining up with Dumfries House, we are helping coach and tour operators offer their clients the chance to enjoy the best of Scotland at the best possible price.” These three properties are some of Southern Scotland’s most popular attractions - the restored Broughton House in Kirkcudbright is former home to the world- famous Scottish artist E A Hornel, and Dumfries House, near Cumnock in Ayrshire, is cared for by The Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust.

Fitzcharles coaches

FITZCHARLES coaches are run by the third and fourth generation of the Fitzcharles family. We specialise incoming groups from all over the world. We are a financially bonded tour operator. This is most important in the current economic climate. We are regulated by the FSA to sell travel insurance unlike most our competitors, and we own all our coaches. If you decide to travel with us we take care of your group financially, and safely from start to finish making all land and sea reservations on your behalf.

Contact Fitzcharles Coaches Ltd, 01324 482093, email info@fitzcharles.co.uk or visit the website www.fitzcharles.co.uk.

Threave Garden

Midlothian

LOCATED on the doorstep of Edinburgh, Midlothian holds an unrivalled mix of peaceful, scenic countryside and outstanding ancient and modern heritage. In Midlothian, the peace and beauty of the countryside on show at the Pentland Hills Regional Park, Vogrie Country Park and Dalkeith Country Park is contrasted with outstanding, award winning visitor centres and lively towns offering every amenity which the visitor could want. Visitor attractions include: Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World at Dobbies Garden World, The Scottish Mining Museum, Rosslyn Chapel, Midlothian Snowsports Centre.

For more details of what to visit and where to stay visit the website www.visitmidlothian.com or contact info@visitmidlothian.com, 0131 440 2159.

Grant Arms Hotel

THE Cairngorms National Park is one of the best places to see wildlife in the UK, offering the chance to see osprey, golden eagle, pine marten, red squirrel, deer and bottlenose dolphins. Based at the newly refurbished Grant Arms Hotel, in Grantown-onSpey, the Birdwatching and Wildlife Club helps visitors to the Scottish Highlands have amazing wildlife encounters. From free guided walks, to help and advice on the best places to visit for wildlife during your stay, we'll make sure you have a holiday to remember. Two night breaks from £130 per person, packages include wildlife photography, painting, red deer rut, winter wildlife watch.

For more information: www.bwwc.co.uk, www.grantarmshotel.com, 01479 872526. 26


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DESTINATIONCOMMENT

‘The plunging pound is a springboard for gain’ By Ken Robinson THE National Tourism Summit – hastily organised to coincide with the Prime Minister’s and the Cabinet visit to Liverpool in January – was an exceptional event in the annals of UK tourism. Never before have the big guns of No. 10 (and implicitly the Treasury), and the Secretary of State and Minister from DCMS, all asserted their recognition for tourism and their understanding that it requires public funding to achieve its potential. Somewhere in the background the influence of Lord Mandelson is evident. He realises that in the search for sustainable growth that can help our recovery from the global economic turmoil, tourism is a rare beacon of hope. Never before have the circumstances been so wrong for the economy, yet so right for tourism to grow. The plunging pound is a springboard for gain at the cost of our international competitors. As well as being about to receive the conclusions of VisitBritain’s

Framework Review, the Minister invited those present, and the industry, to submit suggested priorities for action. From a rapid trawl, emerging priorities submitted include:  An urgent need to improve the funding for targeted marketing initiatives, to support for tactical promotion campaigns in Europe and other low pound ‘value’ markets  Cross Whitehall awareness and co-ordination on tourism-relevant policies  DCMS clarity on the implementation of the Framework Review, with adequate funding: with particular reference to the future cooperation between VB, the national boards and London; the establishment of a fully competent national Board for England, and support for Partners for England  Provision of essential funding for pre-Olympic tourism initiatives, and subsequently for adequate funds to achieve the Olympic’s tourism legacy.  Guidance to banks to recognise the need to stay supportive of tourism businesses; with

recognition of the financial sensitivity of high-fixed-cost and seasonal businesses.  Avoidance of any additional costs on industry through new or strengthened regulation and red tape – deferral of planned increases in Air Passenger Duty.  A moratorium on planned Visa charge increases, and re-consider joining the Schengen group.  Reinstatement of capital allowances to encourage new investment and improvement This is an ambitious shopping list, or rather from the nation’s viewpoint, a list of opportunities. Given the certain stimulus to UK holidays from the domestic market and the growth of inbound visitors seeking new found value in this desirable destination, should more fundamental major investments be committed to our ageing products, especially for example in seaside resorts? In my opinion, no: long term decay, urban clutter and outdated accommodation cannot be remedied by one-off funding from Government.

Ken Robinson Flagship projects often reveal the failure of the remainder of the local fleet to keep up; they are just as likely to sink in the flagships wake than ride the wave of easy gains. Investment follows inspiration and commitment – it is Government’s role to encourage and facilitate, not deter and tax our potential tourists away from these shores.  Ken Robinson CBE FTS, Tourism Society

No slowdown in Government by Kurt Janson, Tourism Alliance WHILE almost all sectors of the economy are retracting in the wake of the current economic downturn, there is one area where there has been no sign of a slow-down – the development of regulation. At a time where many operators are trying to reduce their costs, you would think that the Government, as part of a programme to support British businesses, would be reviewing its legislative programme to determine where proposed legislation can be delayed or regulation relaxed to ease the regulatory burden that businesses face. Yet the regulatory burden is continuing in an unrelenting manner and with it comes costs that businesses can ill afford in the present environment. Here’s an example: removing age discrimination from the provision of

products and services The Government Office for Equality is currently driving forward an initiative that would ban age discrimination in the provision of goods and services. While this is socially desirable, there needs to be certain exemptions for the tourism industry if it is to provide customers with the wide range of experiences and services that they want. If exemptions are not granted to the tourism industry then a number of common practices, which work to the benefit of customers or the protection of tourism resources would be banned. For example; Tour operators would not be able to provide tours that are specifically targeted to either the young (Club 18-30) or to the elderly (Saga) The owners of historic houses or self-catering accommodation would not be able to put an age restriction on who was able to hire their premises.

Camping, caravanning and homepark operators would not be able to target specific sectors of the market by establishing operations that cater specifically for the family, adults or 50+ markets. Rather than restricting choice and marginalising segments of society, segmentation in tourism is core to proving customers with what they want and ensuring that they have the best possible experience. Removing age related restrictions would simply reduce the product range and compromise the quality of experience for all concerned for little enhanced social value. These proposed pieces of regulation show that while it is important that Government concentrates on freeing-up the financial system so that businesses have access to the funds that they need to survive the economic downturn, it is equally important that all Government departments

Kurt Janson recognise the impact that new legislation will have on business that are already under considerable strain and review their legislative programme to ease regulatory burden over the next year.

Eastbourne welcomes over 100 travel organisers OVER 100 group travel organisers have attended an event in Eastbourne designed to showcase the resort and change perceptions of it as a holiday destination. The event – hosted by Holdsworth Hotels and Robinsons Holidays – gave organisers the chance to explore Eastbourne and gain new ideas of what it has to offer as a destination for groups. According to organiser Tony Scarrott, the trip was important to change ideas that Eastbourne is just a destination for older people and promote the fact that it can be somewhere for people of all ages to visit. He said: “We are trying to change the impression of what Eastbourne is about and show that it has a lot to offer. We

want to say to organisers that it has a lot more and can be seen as a livelier destination. We want to try and bring more younger people and families in but don’t want to lose the older market. “If we have achieved that with this event then we can’t ask for anymore.” The weekend visit included familiarisation trips to some of the area’s most popular attractions, either to the west or to the east of Eastbourne. Attractions involved included Devonshire Park, Beachy Head Heritage Trail and Battle Abbey and Battlefield. There was also a chance for organisers and attractions to network with eachother at a gala dinner. 27


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Destination UK (Feb/March)  

Promoting UK tourism to the world's travel trade