Tourism businesses have joined councillors and community representatives at the University of Suffolk to discuss the tourism trade in the county.
Unlike neighbouring Norfolk, Suffolk is just creating DMOs (Destination Marketing/Management Organisations). Suffolk Coastal is the only well-established DMO with Discover Newmarket a new addition alongside emerging DMOs from Ipswich BID and Bury St Edmunds BID.
The Visit East Anglia-organised workshop was to share best practice and to inspire and enthuse. The speakers came from various tourism businesses sharing how they set up the DMOs in their area, giving the messaging that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Keynote speaker Malcolm Bell from Visit Cornwall shared his thoughts before the event: “Tourism is a massive industry run by particularly small businesses and that’s the same for Suffolk as it is for Cornwall. There aren’t big brand names here. My passion is to keep it that way and I think working together and working with a DMO you get the power to take on the big corporates and the chains and to keep the independent, local businesses. To keep the profits locally. It is the old adage of united we stand, divided we fall.”
“It is like a coming of age with tourism in the domestic market. For a long time it was that local governments must do it and the industry can’t look after itself, almost like a parenting role. I think now the kid has grown up, the kid is able to do it. It still needs their (public sector) involvement but it is a bit of a role reversal, we need them in support of the private sector not leading the private sector. That’s the winning combination.”
On Brexit he added, “Business makes the most of the conditions they are in and we’d be absolute fools not to make the most of the staycation and more importantly to get some overseas visitors in. Make the most of it and reinvest is my message.”
On Suffolk Malcom gave his thoughts “At the moment I think people think south and west and in a way the challenge is with the London market and some of the other markets is to get people to think east. All the wonderful attractions are on their doorstep. Our big growth market in Cornwall has been secondary holidays where people have at least a week to recharge. Now you’re in a beautiful position to build that market particularly from the Midlands as well as London.”
Victoria Savory from Adnams, who is involved with Visit East Anglia, Visit Suffolk and the Suffolk Coast DMO, acted as an advocate for the group approach saying it provides an opportunity for business, especially small and independent businesses, to be part of something bigger, a powerful collective that provides the opportunity for exposure. For consumers having a DMO such as Suffolk Coastal means they have a ‘one stop shop’ when wishing to find out about a destination; when they are “shopping for the best tourism gems in the area.”
Victoria added, “DMOs are attractive brand propositions that bring visitors into this region, and grow our tourism economy.”
Other speakers were Tim Rowan-Robinson from The Suffolk Coast, Charles Howard from Discover Newmarket and Cambridge & Beyond, and Ian Russell who helped establish Visit Norwich and Enjoy The Broads.
Visit East Anglia brought the delegates together and act as a ‘back office’ for DMOs in the region, including Visits Norfolk and Suffolk.
Pete Waters, executive director of Visit East Anglia said “There is no one-size-fits-all model for a DMO so it was important to show the delegates various options and for the public and private sectors to work together to decide the best course of action in each destination.”
Laura Locke from the Suffolk Business School at the University added “This event offered the University of Suffolk the opportunity to support the businesses and agencies that work in the growth area of tourism. Suffolk is a wonderful county and we celebrate our role in its economic success and offer degree level tourism related programmes.”
University of Suffolk Press Office
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