Foreign visitors ‘key’ to North Somerset’s growth say tourism bosses

PUBLISHED: 13:00 17 February 2018

Crowds on Weston seafront.

Crowds on Weston seafront.

Archant

Council chiefs see tourism as a key pillar of its new economic plan, and hope to place North Somerset on the ‘international stage’ to lure more visitors from overseas.

North Somerset's tourism bosses discussed the importance of international visitors.North Somerset's tourism bosses discussed the importance of international visitors.

North Somerset Council has issued a rallying cry to authorities in other parts of the West of England to ‘work in partnership to attract more visitors from abroad’.

The local authority held its annual tourism and leisure conference at Clevedon Hall on January 31, with dozens of tourism businesses in attendance.

The Bristol and Bath Cultural Destinations Project (BBCDP) – created to promote tourism across the West of England over the next two years – was on the agenda, with tourism chiefs stressing towns and cities in the region should work in ‘collaboration rather than in competition’.

Stephen Bashford, North Somerset’s head of economic development, said ‘one of the themes of the council’s recently-refreshed economic plan is to position North Somerset on an international stage to increase volume and value of visitor spend’.

He told the region’s tourism bosses: “We see culture as a key driver of economic growth and for the next two years North Somerset will benefit from the BBCDP.

“This will bring together the West of England’s tourism sector to promote the region’s diverse culture and encourage more national and international visitors, initially focusing on Germany and Scandinavia.

“By coming together to increase our visitor experience we have a big opportunity to bring more international tourism to the area. The value of this to the local economy is significant as overseas visitors stay longer than UK visitors with a much higher average spend per trip.”

Martin Pople, of the BBCDP, suggested North Somerset could enjoy a ripple effect from other tourist hotspots in the region.

He said: “One of our campaigns, run in conjunction with Bristol Airport, is aimed at bringing in more visitors through the airport.”

“Working in collaboration rather than in competition is key to that. There’s a real sense of partnership working here in North Somerset – a recognition that working together is growing the size of the pie and that, if you can do that, your individual slice will get bigger.

“Bath, in particular, is a popular destination for overseas visitors. Once we attract them here it’s our job to get them to explore the region, to stay longer and to spend more.”

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