Creation of the new Community Interest Company (CIC) follows on from widespread local tourism industry consultation and meetings held within the county during 2015, with an overwhelming majority of businesses calling for one strong and effective voice for Devon’s tourism sector.
Visit Devon will now have two primary objectives: to promote and market the county of Devon as a tourist destination and to act as an official voice for those involved in Devon’s tourism industry.
It will be a non-profit making business and so will work for the benefit of the wider Devon community, with any surpluses generated being reinvested into further promoting Devon as the holiday destination of choice.
Visit Devon will effectively take over from the former ‘Devon Tourism Partnership’ which led the promotion of Devon for the last four years from 2011. The former partnership comprised Devon County Council, the English Riviera Tourism Company, Destination Plymouth, Visit South Devon, North Devon Plus, Visit Dartmoor, Exeter & the Heart of Devon, and the Devon Association of Tourist Attractions (DATA), but the new Visit Devon will be primarily led by the private sector.
The ‘Devon Tourism Partnership’ was able to maintain momentum, but all of the partners agreed that Devon now competes in a global industry and much more needed to be done for the county in order to fulfil its potential.
So, a local tourism industry consultation and public meetings took place in 2015 which concluded that a new industry-led body was needed. The last four months have seen the creation of the Visit Devon Community Interest Company (CIC).
Victoria Hatfield, Chair of the Devon Tourism Partnership, says: “We’re delighted to see the new Visit Devon get off the ground. Devon is one of the UK’s top destinations, with a fantastic array of natural and built attractions, and an abundance of award winning food and drink providers and places to stay. The Devon Tourism Partnership wish the best of luck to the new company and will be offering it our full support.”
The Visit Devon CIC has already secured over £90,000 in cash, plus a further £120,000 in promises from local tourism businesses, so is off to a good start. It has already acquired £20,000 worth of photographic and video assets, and plans for 2016 are to develop a new website; boost social media and PR coverage, and enable a significant growth in Devon’s profile across the UK and further afield. In parallel, there will be opportunities for Devon businesses and destinations to become involved as promotional partners.
An immediate priority is for the new company to recruit its first Board of Directors, for which applications are sought by the closing date of 6th May. Details can be downloaded from www.devontourismawards.org.uk/page/39/visit-devon.htm
Alistair Handyside, Chair of the South West Tourism Alliance, says: “It is great news that the Visit Devon brand will be given the impetus that it needs to compete domestically and internationally, even better that this has come about through the public and private sector working together. We would urge the industry to get behind the brand and work together to make it a real success.”
Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain and VisitEngland adds her support: “Devon's beautiful coast and countryside is a core part of the South West's appeal to international visitors. So we are delighted to see a county wide body that can work with the many local tourism businesses and us at VisitEngland and VisitBritain to ensure that tourism continues to deliver economic growth and jobs to the area. We look forward to working closely together.”
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