Memorandum submitted by the Forest of
Dean District Council
Tourism in the Forest of Dean is estimated to
contribute over £40 million to the economy with an estimated
three million visitors per year.
There are five key areas:
1. Information and Communication
1.1 A Forest of Dean Tourism Task Group
has been set up to address issues pertinent to the Forest and
to develop a recovery programme. The Partnership consists of representatives
from tourism businesses, District Council, County Council, Tourism
Association, Wye Valley AONB and Forest Enterprise.
1.2 The tourism businesses are hungry for
accurate, up-to-date information. A newsletter is being produced
regularly and is attached to this report.
The District Council's web site is being regularly updated as
is the Glosnet website (for Gloucestershire County Council). Information
is recognised as a most important service provided by the District
Council but it must be open, honest, accurate and treating the
tourist businesses as equal and intelligent partners. A great
deal of damage is done if the true situation is disguised.
2. A new Marketing Strategy
2.1 Originally we tried to promote a message
that the Forest of Dean was "open for business". The
Forest of Dean as a woodland and outdoor venue is not open for
business. We are clearly not open for the same "business"
as we were this time last yearor indeed two months ago.
2.2 However, many individual businesses
are open and therefore as a District we must rethink our marketing
strategy for the short term. Such an analysis probably applies
equally well for the county of Gloucestershire and the country.
2.3 We are now promoting a different product
to a different customer. In the short term we are not a location
for wonderful woodland walks full with bluebells and daffodils.
We are not a place for family cycle riders in 10,400 hectares
of traffic free tracks. Rather we have unusual attraction which
reflect a fascinating archaeological, industrial and historic
past, beautiful drives along country lanes, through woods full
of bluebells, special festivals and events, open gardens and specialised
2.4 What we need to do in the next couple
of weeks is publish special, high quality promotional material
that draws attention to these attractions events and facilities
as part of the Tourism Task Group Partnership. But the Council's
tourism promotion budget has already been committed and additional
funding will be needed for these short-term projects.
3. Research and Training
3.1 The Tourism Task Group are undertaking
surveys to identify impact, problems and the range of solutions
possible. There is also an excellent opportunity to offer training
courses eg customer care, marketing and promotion computer skills
to businesses, who unhappily find they have time on their hands
in the next few weeks.
4. A Local Solution
4.1 The Forest of Dean District Council
cannot stress too much the importance of finding local solutions
to these matters. The impact of foot and mouth disease varies
significantly from Newent, an attractive market town in the north
of the district with a nearby range of excellent visitor attractions
and easy coach parking, to the southern part of the district which
has a reputation for off road cycling on beautiful forestry tracks,
wonderful walking combined with some unusual and fascinating visitor
attractions. The Council's short-term promotional activity will
reflect local variations in the visitor market. Thus a regional
marketing strategy which concentrates on the south west will badly
under sell Dorset with no foot and mouth disease and not address
the very real problems in the Forest of Dean or western Devon.
4.2 The local solution in the Forest of
Dean is able to reflect differing local circumstances so marketing
strategies and consequential promotional activity must be locally
produced by local partnerships. When the Forest of Dean woodland
can reopen for visitors we plan to organise a grand celebration.
5. Business Failure
5.1 Government and Local Authorities will
have to recognise that despite the best marketing strategies,
promotional material and intention, there will be some small tourism
businesses that will fail in the aftermath of foot and mouth disease.
Simple cash flow problems, an unsympathetic Bank Manager or an
inability to respond to a crisis will inevitably cause such failures.
Government will have to make a decision as to whether or not it
is going to give short-term cash help in situations where this
can be directly related to foot and mouth disease. Again this
will only be a localised problem.
Trust the citizens of Great Britain
with the whole storythey will respect you for it.
Develop a refocused short-term marketing
strategy and promotional material for Great Britain PLC.
Ensure you are responding to the
real problem through good research and use the quiet time to provide
specialist training courses.
Support the development of a local
recovery plan delivered by existing local partnerships either
in regeneration or tourism.
Accept that there will be some individual
businesses that will fail without a decision to support them.
Ensure that clear and consistent
messages are being sent out. Clarity is the key.
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