OPINION: Hatching a plan for tourism?
PUBLISHED: 13:22 10 March 2015 | UPDATED: 13:22 10 March 2015
NICK AGG-MANNING, Managing Director of Outside Adventure Consultants Ltd, writes on tourism issues
Chickens and eggs are excellent words for a magazine serving a county such as Devon, but in business terms…which came first: the chicken or the egg? Do businesses in Devon react to, and create, some of our tourism or does the amount of tourism we get create businesses on the back of it?
Jurassic Coast; moorland and National Parks; rivers and beaches; castles and manors…yes, we have it all here but are we, as businesses in the county, making the most of our natural resources and, indeed, could we be encouraging more people to come and visit us?
New business and farming diversification has led to a number of fine examples where they become an attraction in their own right and complement the tourist industry that is already established here. Companies like The Virtual Jet Centre will surely lead visitors to Chudleigh who might never have thought of going there. Land Rover Experience must benefit Honiton; River Cottage: Axminster; Donkey Sanctuary: Sidmouth; Dartington Crystal and Rosemoor Gardens: Torrington; The Otter Brewery: Luppit/The Blackdowns ; Crealy: Clyst St George and so on.
So, do we make the most of these operations in our areas or do we just stick rigidly to the natural features of coast, moor, rivers, woodland, villages and cities? Is it exploitation to major on our Tudor connections whilst the nation wallows in the intrigue of that period created by our very own, East Devon-based Dame, Hilary Mantel. War Horse was a wonderful film based here in Devon – did we make the most of it? Should we make more of it? Make more of Morpurgo, more of Christie, Kingsley, Hardy, Hughes, Williamson, Delderfield, Austin, Browning, Doyle, Blackmore or Coleridge and, no doubt, many others…including Mantel?
We enjoy some of the finest houses in the country, many of which are managed and available through The National Trust as well as those privately run.
Our country and city hotels have awesome reputations and are pulling in visitors from all over the globe; our levels of culinary achievements are stunning and world famous; our campsites are superb; our country shows are spectacular; golf courses of international renown; our villages quintessentially picture postcard; our cities steeped in history.
Indeed, we have it all. But do we do enough to make the UK and the world know it? Are we entrepreneurial enough to grasp the opportunities our county offers or should we just continue to moan that Yorkshire gets millions of pounds more than us from Government?
We get on with it in Devon. The South West Tourism Alliance; Visit Devon; Services for Tourism are vibrant organisations in advising and assisting in ‘Start-ups’ as well as promoting existing business even further afield. Businesses are starting, by the day, to embrace the culture, the people, the geography, the business leaders and the nature of this divine, delightful diamond that is Devonshire.
The most obvious example of business leading into tourism is, of course, Exeter Chiefs, who have created a facility that is the envy of cities across the country. They have brought Exeter and Devon to the pages of national and international newspapers and have been instrumental in bringing World Cup Rugby and consequently, world visitors, to Devon.
So, there you have it. Both - yes, the chicken AND the egg!