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East Midlands Chamber News

Work together to achieve world-class results

Working together to continue to create a world-class destination and five-star visitor experience is vital to secure the future success and prosperity of the Peak District and Derbyshire.

That was the overarching message to delegates at official tourist board Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire’s Annual Tourism Conference at Thornbridge Hall, Ashford in the Water this week.

Keynote speaker, television presenter and Peak District and Derbyshire champion Julia Bradbury, tourist board Managing Director Jo Dilley and Councillor Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council all reinforced the rallying call as the visitor economy gears up for future success.

Julia, the first-ever female President of The Camping and Caravanning Club, one of the tourist board’s long-standing Patrons, told around 150 delegates that Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire was listening to what businesses say they need and responding to it.

“The key is communication, and working together in a collaborative effort is much more successful. When we lived in Sheffield and my family ran a fashion couture shop, we shared clients with local businesses – a win-win for all and very happy customers. Helping and working with and for each other is important. We shouldn’t always think of neighbours as competition.

“Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire needs businesses to support it through membership. This doesn’t just allow it to bid for funding to deliver workshops and support. The more members it has, the more marketing campaigns it can deliver, both nationally and internationally, to raise the profile of the area and drive visitors here.”

Jo Dilley emphasized the continuing need for close teamwork between the public and private sectors, the tourist board and its Patrons and members, the University of Derby, D2N2, Visit England and VisitBritain.

“By coming together, we are far more powerful,” she said. “Our mission is to make the Peak District and Derbyshire the destination of choice – regionally, nationally and globally.

“We want to offer a world-class experience, encouraging visitors to share and recommend the area as a great place to take a holiday. The visitor economy is currently in very robust shape and we are confident that next year will be equally, if not more, successful.

“The income we receive from our public and private partners through grants, patronage and membership is extremely important in our ongoing quest to secure other funding from sources such as the Discover England Fund and the European Development Fund. Since 2016, we have attracted an extra £2.5m to help us achieve our ambitions.”

Councillor Barry Lewis underlined the key role that the visitor economy plays in Derbyshire County Council’s plans to drive economic growth for both residents and businesses.

“We recognise the fundamental role the tourist board plays in marketing tourism both domestically and internationally – but it is more than this. It is the focal point for business support to the visitor economy sector, and we are delighted to work alongside the team, always striving to help our businesses grow and offer even more excellent services and products to our visitors.”

Councillor Lewis welcomed the formation of the new Derbyshire Culture, Heritage and Tourism Board, chaired by former VisitEngland Chief Executive and Derbyshire-born James Berresford.

The Board has been created to maximise the economic potential of Derbyshire’s unique and distinctive cultural and environmental assets to create an exceptional and thriving destination where people can live, work, visit and invest.

Councillor Lewis also underscored the importance of strategic regional initiatives such as the Midlands Engine and a new East Midlands Strategic Alliance to keep the visitor economy at the heart of Government policy and investment.

Paul Ince, of Loughborough-based LikeMind Media, gave delegates a valuable insight into how best to use social networks and tell compelling stories to help their businesses and organisations stand out from the crowd.

Paul stressed the need for businesses to have a social media paid strategy and use video and online channels to talk like a friend, develop a personality, show their audiences an experience and tell compelling stories. He also shared useful tips on how to make the most of relationships with the ever-growing band of online influencers.

Updates from Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire focused on successes in 2018, including:

  • Discover England Fund and other international projects targeting key overseas markets in Europe, Australia, China, India and the USA
  • The value of tourism to the area’s economy – up six per cent in 2017 to £2.15bn, supporting 28,630 jobs
  • Trade and consumer stands across the UK, Germany and The Netherlands – including BBC Countryfile Live, BBC Good Food Show and BBC Gardeners World Live
  • The European Economic Development Fund supported Growing and Developing the Visitor Economy within Derbyshire, helping the area’s businesses to boost their skills, profitability and performance
  • Ever-increasing visits to www.visitpeakdistrict.com (1.4 million sessions and 1.06 million users between September 2017 and September 2018) and a combined social media following of more than 96,000 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
  • The success of on-line marketing campaign #UniqueDistrict (50 uses of hashtag per day) and upcoming activity focusing on dog-friendly, romantic and food and drink themed breaks.

The tourist board team also looked forward to its forthcoming Food & Drink Campaign, set to be launched next spring to promote the Peak District and Derbyshire’s diverse and delicious culinary offer, plus a new initiative to develop business tourism, also scheduled to launch in 2019.

This will focus on bringing in new business at traditionally quiet times of year and also midweek, tapping into the potential of the wellbeing and health market and capitalising on the area’s assets as an accessible place where people can work, rest and invest.