Tourism stalwart Bob Smart dies aged 68

Bob Smart.

Bob Smart. - Credit: Sub

A Weston man who dedicated much of his life to promoting and supporting Somerset’s tourism industry has died aged 68, following a battle with leukaemia.

Bob Smart was chairman of Visit Somerset, a tourism website for Somerset, and a member of Weston Civic Society for around 40 years.

He spent most of his life working on tourism and heritage projects in Somerset.

In the 1970s, he worked at Woodspring Museum in Weston, and helped to establish Weston Heritage Centre and the Old Town Quarry.

He was also involved in developing Cheddar Caves and Gorge as a major tourist attraction and site for wildlife for 21 years.

Reflecting on his achievements recently, Mr Smart said to friends and colleagues: “I’ve made it my life’s work to show visitors and residents just how wonderful Somerset is, and I think the message is getting across.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to have a job where you help other people to have a good time. That’s what tourism is all about.

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“We show people that their lives can be better, and we make them feel better about themselves.

“Tourism is a great force for good, and while we’re helping visitors we’re helping ourselves as well, through employment and the local economy.”

An e-book aimed at tourists with pictures and information about Somerset has been launched this week by Visit Somerset.

It has been dedicated to Mr Smart.

John Turner, chief executive at Visit Somerset, said: “Bob died with family and friends by his side.

“Throughout his short illness his spirit has continued to shine through and only 10 days ago he answered his phone to the press asking for a comment on a story.

“Promoting Somerset was Bob’s passion and he lives on through the work of Visit Somerset and the e-book he helped to edit, which is also dedicated to him.”