News - 06 May 2014

Capital Idea to Raise the Profile of the County’s Attractions

If you want to understand why Nottinghamshire is a great place to visit go to the London Underground.

If you stood on one of the platforms over the past year or so there is every chance you will have seen a poster campaign which took the city and county’s visitor economy to the capital and did it in style. “In Notts we love the Underground” said one of the campaigns, referring to the cave network that lies beneath the city of Nottingham.

“In Notts we love our Manor” read another, carrying images of what would at the time have looked suspiciously like one of the main locations for the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. And that’s because it was: the image was that of Wollaton Hall, which became Wayne Manor in the movie.

Not bad for a campaign which was put together in a matter of weeks: “We had to develop it in a very short space of time,” says Jennifer Spencer, the chief executive of Experience Nottinghamshire, the county’s destination marketing organisation.

“You never get as much time as you would like, but the fact that the theme has proved so adaptable and has brought so much reaction shows that it is delivering.”

But Jennifer believes that the visitor economy is capable of delivering more in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. As of 2011, it was a sector bringing in £1.44 billion to the local economy.

“We believe that this figure has the potential to be well over £2 billion if we develop our core product,” says Jennifer. “Our mission is to get more people to visit more often. “I don’t believe that the potential is fully appreciated. The vast majority of people who come here do so for a day or a short break, and it is the short breaks that we are seeking to develop because while a day visitor might spend £30, an overnight visitor can be worth up to £200.”

How will that happen? Experience Nottinghamshire has four strategic objectives which support that aim –

  • more marketing and promotion of the existing offer;
  • getting a more detailed understanding of the visitor economy;
  • expanding partnerships with the private sector and
  • supporting the development of an improved visitor product offer.

It has some strong foundations to build on. As an organisation, it has 450 visitor economy members. It has also been backed by its national equivalent, Visit England, as part of a project to grow local tourism with support from the Regional Growth Fund.

What’s more, Jennifer is able to point to some surprisingly high rankings for the area as a visitor destination. Nottingham is the 13th most popular destination for international visitors and satisfaction surveys show that both city and county ranked higher than Birmingham and Manchester.

 Some of that success is down to changes wrought by Experience Nottinghamshire itself in terms of the way the city and county have been developed and marketed. A lot relates to the fact that both are fundamentally attractive places to visit.

Nottingham has destinations ranging from the Castle to the Contemporary Art Gallery, the Capital FM Arena to the Galleries of Justice, the region’s best retail offer and a range of high-quality cafes and restaurants.

Oh, and Trent Bridge – the only international sporting stadium in the East Midlands and host next year to The Ashes.

The county has market towns like Newark, with its Civil War associations, Sherwood Forest and the Dukeries, Clumber Park and the Welbeck Estate. It is also home to one of the biggest regional visitor destinations of all in the shape of Center Parcs’ Sherwood Forest village, which provides employment for thousands and pumps millions into the economy of North Nottinghamshire.

The scale of the potential and the ambition in the visitor economy is illustrated by the fact that several destinations are up for recognition at the annual Visit England Awards:

  • Trent Bridge, for the way in which it partnered with surrounding local authorities and organisations to market and deliver what visitor satisfaction surveys said was the best Ashes test in the 2013 series;
  • Browns, the bed and breakfast at Holbeck in north Nottinghamshire which has again been shortlisted for the B&B of the Year award;
  • Elemental Force, the programme which saw historical scenes projected on to Nottingham and Newark castles
  • Galleries of Justice, which has been shortlisted as best small attraction
  • The National Civil War Centre at Newark Museum, a new attraction which interprets the English Civil War through the eyes of ordinary people.

“This is the first time that we have been represented in so many categories and I think that tells you something about the strength and the depth of the visitor offer available in Notts and the way that it has been developing,” says Jennifer.

“I think it also shows us why future developments offer such potential. On top of that we will continue to take what we already have and develop innovative campaigns which present the visitor economy in a very positive light. ”

 There will be campaigns and events around dance, cycling, ales and the city’s caves.

But there will also be a continued push to attract visitors coming to Notts for something else – conferences and events.

Experience Nottinghamshire has already enjoyed some notable successes in the conference market, and the value they bring is significant. Jennifer explains:

“The economic impact is considerable, and around 25% of the people who attend a conference will return as leisure visitors. But it’s also important in terms of some of the key business sectors in Nottingham, with conferences a key feature of industries like life sciences and biotechnology, where our universities have major strengths.”

Major conferences also tend to raise the profile of the destination they are held in, and national journalists will be homing in on Nottingham later this year when it hosts the national conference of the GMB union. A different kind of attention will come in August when the city hosts the annual World Baton Twirling Championship. Quirky it might be, but will attract 1,500 competitors from around the world.

What’s more, Nottingham – which will stage the venue at the Capital FM Arena – essentially won the event from London, with the organisers priced out of using an Olympic legacy venue. Experience Nottinghamshire is working with four key themes for leisure visitors.

This is an extract from our Visitor Economy Supplement, to view the full document, Click Here

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