April 2015

Trade paper for the domestic tourism and inbound tourism industry in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland

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8 travelGBI April 2015 the Big Interview James Berresford, chief executive of VisitEngland, has had a busy March, preparing for the agency's separation from VisitBritain, promoting English Tourism Week and launching a consultation on future strategy. He spoke to Samantha Mayling Q What was the reaction from the trade after the announcement about changes recommended by the Triennial Review? Feedback so far has been pleasingly positive. The new Challenge Fund will help ensure the development of competitive and engaging tourism experiences to increase the number of people taking holidays in England. Q Can you tell us about yourself and why you're the person to lead VisitEngland in its new guise? The success of English tourism is down to partnerships between local and national businesses, destination organisations and travel agents. What I offer to this dynamic environment is over 30 years' experience working across the tourism industry which I use to encourage people to work collaboratively to grow and sustain our industry. I have been at the helm of VisitEngland for nearly six years and have loved every minute. I've had the opportunity to be a part of destination development up and down the country and work with extraordinarily passionate people in the industry. It has been challenging, and the environment is ever- changing, but we have had some enormous triumphs which benefited the industry. We're at an exciting time, but we and the industry will have to constantly change and adapt to ensure we continue to prosper. Q What were the highlights of English Tourism Week for you? I am absolutely delighted the ETW programme of events has developed so much and that it is supported by the secretary of state and tourism minister. I visited Manchester and Suffolk during ETW, two contrasting yet standout visitor destinations. It's been brilliant to see fantastic work promoting the benefits of tourism to the economy in these places. Both ETW and the Tourism Superstars scheme have really come of age and are important events to promote the best of England's tourism sector, so there are no plans to change what are very successful events. Q Can you tell us more about the ETW focus on the 'purple pound' and progress with improving accessibility? Last year we received €125,000 from the European Commission to work with seven destinations to develop destinations with access needs. With more than one-in-six visitors likely to have an impairment and a 31% uplift in the number of domestic holidays taken by the 55-plus age group since 2006, the business case for improving accessibility has never been more compelling. VisitEngland is a world leader in accessible tourism. However, it is important to continue acknowledging that access is still an issue for some disabled tourists. Our 'Unlocking the Purple Pound' event in Blackpool sought to address this by looking at how the tourism industry can make small, affordable changes to provide disabled visitors with a more pleasurable experience. Q: The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions reported rising visitor figures. But the list is dominated by London, so how can you woo more people to the regions? We're working with regional airports to encourage more airlines to run routes to airports outside London. The Triennial Review made recommendations that new targets should be set for VisitBritain to increase visitor numbers outside London. We will work closely with VisitBritain to encourage international visitors to destinations outside London. Q What are the highlights of the year in terms of anniversaries, openings and major events? We expect several events and anniversaries to drive up visitor numbers. One of the biggest tourism events will be the Rugby World Cup which kicks off in September. Other notable occasions include the re-interment of Richard III in Leicester, 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's death and the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo. Q With the general election coming up, what would you like to see from politicians? We hope to work with the new government to implement the recommendations in the Triennial Review and commit to continued investment in the sector, to ensure it remains competitive and attracts more overseas and domestic visitors. Tourism only succeeds with the support of government and the innovative approach the private sector can bring. A thriving tourism industry is dependent on an integrated public-private sector approach. Q Your first foray into tourism was as an ice cream van man in the 1970s. What have been your favourite memories of English holidays? What experiences do you still want to have? When I was a child, we spent our summer holiday on the Yorkshire coast at Filey and I have deliriously happy memories. That gave me the English holiday 'bug' and I've been England's No 1 tourism fan ever since. It's staggering to see the transformation in our holiday products. More people are taking shorter holidays and I'm one of those. Recent standout holiday experiences for me include a beach front stay at Aldeburgh, a foodie trail in the Lake District and a weekend of culture in Liverpool. Next on my list is Bristol, which won the European Green Capital Award, and riding in the classic cycle event L'Eroica in the glorious Peak District this June. Feedback about the review has been pleasingly positive. The new Challenge Fund will help ensure the development of competitive and engaging tourism experiences James Berresford, VisitEngland chief executive, says cheers to Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, as they hail a new partnership for English Tourism Week 2015 House of Waterford Crystal, e Mall, Waterford City, Ireland P +353 (0)51 317 000 | E | W Join us on Guided Factory Tour | Opulent Retail Store | e World's largest collection of Waterford Crystal Book your tour online today Visit A magical journey through 200 years of crystal making history. the Waterford Crystal faCtory Travel GBI Advert 184mm h x 128mm w.indd 1 7/10/13 2:28 PM

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