Transforming Lincolnshire tourism through business

Lincolnshire businesses met in Lincoln on November 21 at Bishop Grosseteste University for a partnership conference looking at the transformation of the county’s tourism landscape.

The conference welcomed keynote speaker Jason Freezer from Visit England, as well as a presentation on the LEP’s role in supporting tourism by Chris Baron, from Greater Lincolnshire LEP.

In addition, guests heard how the £22 million Lincoln Castle investment will impact the wider county, key suggestions on how to promote your business online, and plans to tap into a £2 billion tourism market.

Organised in partnership with West Lindsey District Council, North Kesteven District Council and the Visit Lincoln Partnership, the event welcomed around 100 guests.

Among plans revealed, Jason Freezer also announced that Lincoln will star in a new nation-wide advertising campaign with a total just over £40 million.

The campaign, which will see the city appearing on websites and newspapers from Spring 2014, is hoped to boost tourism to the area. The programme will run over three years of activity.

Ahead of the conference, keynote speaker Jason Freezer spoke to The Lincolnite, outlining key aspects of local involvement in tourism projects.

Mr Freezer said: “I will touch on a variety of different things, I will showcase a flavour of the projects that we have done in the past year but also we are trying to drive home to Lincolnshire businesses that it’s not just about marketing, it’s also about the visitor experience and making sure that when people do come here, they are taken care of.

“It’s about working together with other businesses to understand more of Lincoln and what it has to offer. Tourism really is a key part of Lincoln’s economic makeup.”

Chris Baron, Resort Director for Butlins and board member for the Greater Lincolnshire LEP said: “I think the one thing that we have learned from the demise of Visit Lincolnshire a few years ago is that, if we want to be successful, it’s all about partnership working.

“And the strengths will come by getting the synergies of everybody working together. We have a great product but people don’t know enough about what we do have to sell.

“Advertising and promotion are the obvious things, what we need to do is get the skills training. If we get great visitor experience that’s worth so must more than the infrastructure around you.”

Arnold Fewell, Managing Director at AVF Marketing, is a permanent wheelchair user and specialises in providing marketing assistance for those businesses that focus on accessibility for tourists and disabled guests.

“I want to get across the size of this market”, said Mr Fewell. “18.5% of the world’s population is disabled. On top of that you have carers and supporters, it’s a key market. The same figures apply to the UK market.

“Visit England say that the stay-away-from-home market is £2 billion, yet when I stay in hotels and travel around the country I experience difficulty after difficulty.

“Unfortunately it’s a fact of life, once we get older impairments come our way. In may opinion, Lincoln city has a huge opportunity to address this at tap into this untouched market. Just because there is one Steep Hill doesn’t mean we can’t have accessible tours and events.”

Throughout the day, people were able to follow the conference via the Twitter hashtag #tourismlincs13.