Working together to attract overseas visitors

Working in partnership to attract more overseas visitors is key to the success of the area as a tourism destination.

This was the strong message from businesses at the fifth annual North Somerset Tourism and Leisure Conference held at Clevedon Hall.

Representatives from 32 tourism and leisure-related businesses came together for the conference and stressed the value of working together to promote what the region has to offer, particularly to visitors from overseas.

Stephen Bashford, North Somerset Council’s Head of Economic Development, said one of the themes of the council’s recently refreshed Economic Plan was to work with key partners to position North Somerset and the West of England on an international stage to increase the volume and value of visitor spend.

“We see culture as a key driver of economic growth,” he told the conference.

“For the next two years North Somerset will benefit from the Arts Council and Visit England funded Bristol and Bath Cultural Destinations Project. This will bring together the West of England’s cultural and tourism sectors to promote the region’s diverse cultural offer and encourage more national and international visitors into the area, initially focusing on Germany and Scandinavia.

“By coming together to increase our visitor experience we have a big opportunity to bring more international tourism to the area. The value of this to the local economy is significant as overseas visitors stay longer than UK visitors with a much higher average spend per trip.”

Martin Pople from the Bristol and Bath Cultural Destinations Project said it was their job to promote the whole region, including North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, as an accessible and exciting cultural destination.

“One of our campaigns, run in conjunction with Bristol Airport, is aimed at bringing in more visitors through the airport,” he said.

“Bath, in particular, is a popular destination for overseas visitors. Once we attract them here it’s our job to get them to explore the region, to stay longer and to spend more.

“Working in collaboration rather than in competition is key to that. There’s a real sense of partnership working here in North Somerset – a recognition that working together is growing the size of the pie and that, if you can do that, your individual slice will get bigger.”

The conference was told that the latest economic impact report on the value of tourism in North Somerset, covering 2016, showed total visits were 8,209,000, up three per cent on 2015, and total day and staying visitor spend was £375,339,000, also up three per cent on 2015. Full-time equivalent employment was 5,031, making up seven per cent of all employment in the district.