July 24 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
The head of Visit England has heaped praise on the Broads but admits his organisation doesn’t have the budget to help Norfolk market its “magical waterland”.
Visit England chief executive James Berresford was in Ormesby St Michael today to talk at the annual Broads Tourism meeting, inspiring members who work in the Broads tourism industry to use the destination’s unique selling points to draw visitors from both Great Britain and overseas.
Mr Berresford, speaking at newly opened Boathouse on the banks of Ormesby Broad, said working in partnership and focusing on “unique and special experiences” was key to promoting the region – especially when funding was tight.
“My national budget is £9m,” he said.
“My colleagues over the border in Scotland have a budget of £44m. It’s not necessarily a level playing field but I don’t spend all my time moaning about that because the way we do tourism here, something you are already doing well here, is by working in partnership.”
He explained how Visit England worked with partners such as the Arts Council and National Parks England, and will soon sign a deal with English Heritage, to benefit everyone and increase the overall amount of money spent on tourism.
“We’ve done quite a lot on working to market the Broads over the last year with pieces in Time Out, the Guardian and other national media, through our special places promotions,” added Mr Berresford.
“It’s right that we raise the profile of the Broads, but when it comes to promoting areas it’s about defining what is special and unique.
“The key thing is to make sure the visitor experience of a destination is special and unique. We’ve got to develop that brand essence, the experience that people take away after they leave.”
The tourism boss also talked about how fast the industry was changing because of demographics, technology and habits.
“People still have recessionary habits; even if they have more money now, they are still looking for the best deals and they will do that by searching the web on their mobile phones,” he said.
“The population is changing; catering for the baby boomer generation as they enter retirement is vital.
“You can’t assume that people hit 65 and get on a coach and want to go to a tearoom.”
Yesterday’s meeting also saw a change in line-up for the Broads Tourism group, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and members welcomed Katie Lawrence as new chairman. Ms Lawrence, who works for holiday firm Hoseasons, replaces Barbara Greasley who stands down after five years at the helm.