A blueprint for boosting local tourism into a £3 billion business with 37,000 jobs is being held up as a national model of partnership and innovation by a top tourism chief.
James Berresford, Chief Executive of England’s tourist board - VisitEngland – visited Cheshire on Friday and encouraged other UK destinations to follow Cheshire and Warrington’s approach to building a flourishing and profitable visitor economy.
His comments followed the launch of Visit Chester & Cheshire’s Visitor Economy Framework ‘2020: Time to Meet the Challenge’ which sets out how Cheshire and Warrington’s visitor economy stakeholders should harness their vision, collaboration and passion to build a thriving, growing and sustainable tourism environment over the next decade.
James Berresford commented: “Cheshire’s framework is a fantastic example of how VisitEngland would like to see destinations working to deliver the action within England’s Strategic Framework for Tourism. We look forward to engaging with Cheshire and its vibrant tourism industry over the next decade.”
Visit Chester & Cheshire, the area’s destination management organisation, chose its Annual Meeting to unveil its framework plans to more than 150 senior representatives of the region’s visitor economy, including leaders of Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East Council and Warrington Borough Council.
The new framework sets out how partnership networks and champions will be used to help increase Cheshire’s share of visitor markets, create places and spaces for great experiences, and do more to connect visitors with the attractions and experiences that are available to them.
Produced in consultation with the public and private sectors, the framework will help exceed the growth targets set by VisitEngland, almost doubling visitor spend year-on-year from £1.78 billion to £3 billion in 2020, and boosting visitor economy employment to 37,000.
Visit Chester & Cheshire Chief Executive Chris Brown highlighted some of the challenges facing Cheshire and Warrington: “We’ve achieved some great successes in terms of creating jobs, boosting the area’s reputation and enhancing our bottom line. Now we need to leap to another level.
“For example, camping and caravanning have become a holiday of choice for an increasing number of high-spending families. The current choice of facilities prevents us from capitalising on this major market opportunity.
“Similarly, to compete more effectively in the business tourism market with destinations such as York and Harrogate, we need to be able to offer bigger venues. The solution is to attract investors and unlock the vast potential that exists in this market.”
Chris continued “We’ve never experienced such a competitive marketplace.
Having unique assets is only a starting point. We have to get to our customers faster and more effectively than any of our competitors, and back up our marketing with distinctive experiences that exceed all expectations.
“There can be no compromise. We need to change cultures and commit to doing things together and differently. We must all learn that self-interest now lies in partnership, and ensure that we keep quality and customer focus at the forefront of delivery, and prepare to be as responsive and flexible as we need to be to achieve the goal of being ‘best in league’ in everything we do.”
Welcoming the Visitor Economy Framework, the Leader of Cheshire East Council, Cllr Wesley Fitzgerald commented: “We are fully supportive of a vision that aims to grow Cheshire and Warrington’s reputation not only as a fantastic place to visit but as a place to work, live and invest.”
The Leader of Warrington Borough Council, Cllr Ian Marks, said: "We fully support the goals outlined in the framework document and we are committed to achieve them through our new Local Enterprise Partnership, pushing new ways of working."
Cllr Stuart Parker, Deputy Chair Chester Renaissance: “Tourism represents a huge economic opportunity to drive new growth into the region to readdress the downturn generated by the continuing recession”
Edward Pysden, Chairman of Visit Chester & Cheshire commented: “The framework illustrates the demanding new landscape we are operating in. It is deliberately ambitious and will drive forward our vision and plans, together with our partners, whose engagement will be essential to delivery.”
The full framework document can be viewed at http://www.visitchesterandcheshire.co.uk/Annual-Meetings-2/Framework
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