Ambitious plans to boost tourism in Derbyshire revealed
A masterplan to help boost tourism in Derbyshire and capitalise on its proud history is set to be put in place.
A review of how best to make the most of the county’s many tourist attractions is currently ongoing.
The main points are based around linking the individual locations by promoting the different sites collectively and to make it easier for people to visit the attractions, particularly for those who do not have their own transport.
Other suggestions include developing ‘strong themes’ so that Derbyshire becomes synonymous with ‘wellbeing’ and ‘experiential opportunities’ and to explore the possibility of encouraging national hotel chains to come to the county.
In the Derbyshire County Council report, Councillor Kevin Gillott, chairman of the places improvement and scrutiny committee, said: “In our view Derbyshire would benefit from an improved accommodation offer and much could be gained by building the county’s reputation of having good places to eat.
“Now is an opportune time to explore the benefits or otherwise of encouraging national hotel chains that, to many visitors, provide reassuringly consistent accommodation standards, branding and price.
“Opportunities to promote careers in tourism and support skills development also need to be considered in a strategic way.”
According to the report, between 2009 and 2011, the number of day visitors to Derbyshire rose from 32.7m to 35m per year.
The total spend in 2011 for day visitors was £1.016 billion which equates to £29 per head.
For the same year, there were 3.9m overnight staying visitors spending a total of £599 million, a spend per head of £153.
“The difference in spend per head clearly demonstrates the importance of attracting overnight visitors to the region,” the report adds.
The strengths of tourism in Derbyshire, according to the report, include ‘cultural assets of global repute’ such as Chatsworth House and Peak District National Park. Other positives include access to nearby ‘gateway’ cities and towns and a growing reputation in relation to sporting activities, notably cycling.
The weaknesses listed include poor public transport links, variable quality of retail outlets and restaurants and poor hotel stock, particularly a small number of national operators.
Expert advisers at the University of Derby outlined a number of challenges the county would face in boosting tourism as part of the report.
The main points are:
- The region under performs compared to similar destinations in the UK.
- A key factor in the region’s poor performance is that the depth, range and value of tourism products on offer are not as strong as other destinations.
- Tourism in the region is typified by small independent businesses working in silos in a disjointed way.
- A major challenge is that there is a lack of distinctiveness and identity for the region. It is not clear to the visitor what the region has to offer.
- The marketing strategy is based on promoting products and suppliers and does not create reasons to visit.
- The tourism offer, including accommodation, cuisine, attractions and retail is not of a consistently high quality and there is a lack of investment in skills development and promoting careers in tourism and hospitality.
The report concludes that Derbyshire would benefit from a comprehensive and inclusive vision to knit together the county’s rich tourism offer. It states: “The vision needs to convey clear themes that provide compelling reasons for visitors to stay and explore Derbyshire.
“There also needs to be greater connectivity, both in terms of making it easier for visitors to move between tourist attractions and in terms of individual businesses working collaboratively to promote local attractions for mutual gain.”
As well as Derbyshire County Council, the review included contributions from: Cumbria Tourism; Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire; Peak District National Park Authority and East Midlands Chamber.
Derbyshire County Council’s cabinet will make a decision whether to accept all or some of the review recommendations at the next meeting of the places improvement and scrutiny committee on November 29.
*What do you think to the proposals? Let us know by emailing [email protected]