Committee considered a report which provided an outline of the key points and the strategic aim of the emerging Bolsover Tourism Strategy.
The draft Strategy was appended to the report and any feedback from Committee would be part of the consultation process prior to the draft Strategy being submitted to Executive.
During March 2020, targeted consultation on the draft strategy had taken place with members of the Culture and Tourism partnership group, neighbouring authorities and visitor economy businesses on the Council’s mailing list for the Bolsover Ebulletin. 32 comments had been received and considered and the strategy amended accordingly.
Bolsover District’s main attractions were Hardwick Hall, Bolsover Castle and Creswell Crags. There were four main hotels that offered 80% of the bed space in the District but with no clear relationship between the main attractions. There were low numbers of caravan and camp sites and holiday lets which meant the proportion of stays in self-catering accommodation was 1.49% compared to 17% across the rest of Derbyshire.
89.2% of visits to the District were from day visitors. National trends indicated a growing demand for short breaks, health and well-being breaks and intergenerational breaks and camping and caravanning. This demand meant the Council’s Strategy should encourage more overnight stays and more visitor expenditure.
In order to help achieve this, the Council needed to work alongside its partners to improve the overall visitor economy offer, improve the accommodation offer, maximise marketing potential, improve visitor economy business engagement and continue to improve the amount and quality of our intelligence and evidence in respect of the visitor economy.
Specific actions included;
· working to promote the District making the most of its excellent accessibility as a central part of a wider area to enhance its attractiveness as a short break destination
· working more closely with our neighbouring local authorities to promote tourism and to look to improve services on the Robin Hood Line
· Visit Sleep Cycle Repeat projects: looking at the feasibility of a Pleasley visitor hub and camping pods at Pleasley Pit Country Park; and an audit of cycle trails in the District
· producing a visitor economy brochure and walking/cycling publications, producing an attractions / visitor economy brochure
· making the best use of a PR and social media and marketing plan
· improving the District’s representation on tourism websites
· establishing a visitor economy business network and encouraging staff and partners to add a link to the District’s tourism webpage on external emails.
It was intended that the Strategy would be a living document and updated as and when new information was found.
However, the draft strategy had been written prior to the Covid 19 lockdown and from March through to early July much of the visitor economy in the District was closed with income streams supporting jobs and livelihoods abruptly halted. Nonetheless, there had been small signs of economic life as some accommodation had housed key workers and met emergency housing needs. Some cafes, pubs and restaurants offered a take away service and certain businesses were able to open earlier subject to safe social distancing measures. The Council’s Economic Development team had offered much support to visitor economy businesses during this time and the Bolsover Ebulletin could inform businesses quickly with clear messages about support measures that were becoming available. Other active engagement had helped to formulate a £500 Covid Recovery Grant Scheme and other businesses closely related to hospitality and leisure received discretionary grants to help ensure supply chains would also be able to survive.
For the foreseeable future, the visitor economy attractions would be operating at a reduced capacity, therefore, the strategy’s strategic aim to ‘increase’ visitors, the number and duration of overnight stays and visitor expenditure, would be difficult to achieve this year but the Council would continue to take action to promote and encourage recovery of the visitor economy. Most recently, the Council had encouraged local businesses to take up the offer of free listings on Visit Chesterfield’s website and a number of funding opportunities to improve the cycle network were being pursued. There were a number of actions the Council cold keep working on within the emerging strategy that would help build a better future for the District’s visitor economy.
The Assistant Director – Development noted that further work was required on the Strategy in relation to accessibility for people who were less mobile due to disabilities etc.
Members welcomed the Strategy and raised the following points;
· no reference in the Strategy regarding accessibility to the use of public toilets which is an important part of tourism for people with disabilities and also the elderly
· if the key element of the Strategy was the promotion of overnight accommodation then the diversity of that offer needed to be looked at i.e., town centres and bed and breakfast etc
· demographics in relation to the type of accommodation that people prefer to stay in overnight not just the lack of camping and caravanning sites in the District
· look at the wider area outside of the District and include areas such as Doncaster, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, South Yorkshire and the Peak District
· where would the other types of overnight accommodation be? Need to look at the local plan
· ensure existing accommodation, not just in the District, i.e., Bassetlaw and Chesterfield have all written literature in relation to BDC attractions
· to what extent will the Creswell to Poolsbrook cycle trail be promoted?
· Identify the suitable sites for camping and motorhomes in the Strategy
· Walks in the District need publicity
· cycling routes – many are not completely joined up
· the 4 main towns in the District are noted as market towns but Clowne has not had a market presence for a long time
The Assistant Director – Development advised the meeting that work was being undertaken to join up cycling networks and a funding bid was being submitted to Sustrans. This work also formed part of the economic recovery as well as the visitor economy. In response to Members’ queries, he advised that the DfT funding referred to in the action plan in the Strategy was not reliant on HS2 going forward. Also, there had been an offer from the MPs Office to support the proposal of the cycle track via the former Coalite site.
The Portfolio Holder for Economic Development thanked Members for their comments. She noted that the District had a huge amount of potential and if numbers of overnight stays could be increased then the number of full time employed people in the tourism industry could also be increased.
Moved by Councillor Tom Munro and seconded by Councillor Tricia Clough
RESOLVED that (1) the draft Tourism Strategy be noted,
(2) Members comments as detailed in the above bullet points be provided as part of the consultation process to the Executive.
(Assistant Director – Development)