Strategy shows commitment to encouraging tourism
Maintaining and developing West Oxfordshire as a ‘must-see’ destination and increasing visitor spending are among main aims of an action plan setting out the District Council’s commitment to tourism.
Following consultation with the local tourism industry and national partners such as Tourism South East, the Council has published a Tourism Strategy setting out how it plans to work with key organisations and local tourism businesses between now and 2012 to increase the contribution of tourism to the District’s economy, and make improvements for both visitors and residents alike.
It is estimated that tourism generates around £225 million annually to West Oxfordshire’s economy and supports about 4,000 jobs. Around 3.7 million people visit the District each year.
The Council recognises the importance of tourism and works to encourage and promote tourism while supporting those in the industry. As part of this work, the West Oxfordshire area is marketed as the ‘Oxfordshire Cotswolds’ and the Council runs a website, www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org, containing information about events and attractions and an online accommodation booking service, and produces a Visitor Guide. It also runs Visitor Information Centres in Burford, Witney and Woodstock and an information point in Chipping Norton.
The new strategy was launched at a Tourism Forum on Wednesday (November 25th) at the District’s largest visitor attraction, Blenheim Palace, organised by the Council to bring together members of the local tourism sector.
Cllr Hilary Biles, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Tourism and Health, said: “West Oxfordshire District council is committed to maintaining and enhancing West Oxfordshire as one of the best places to live, visit and work in Britain. We fully understand the importance of tourism for our District, particularly the significant impact it has on the local economy; that is why we have created a strategy to set out the visions for a sustainable future and help steer us towards ensuring that West Oxfordshire remains firmly on the map as a must-see destination for people to visit, spend time and money – and hopefully come back again time and time again.”
The strategy concentrates on ‘value over volume’, with the aim of encouraging visitors to stay longer and spend more money rather than simply increasing the number of visitors to the District, and identifies eight key priorities which aim to help achieve this.
John Hoy, Chief Executive of Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, said: “We are hugely grateful to the Council for its continuing strong support for the tourism industry. We believe that this new strategy will help everyone involved in the industry to work more closely together in order to drive the significant opportunities that exist throughout the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. With this new strategy in place, we can all look forward to increased visitor numbers, longer stays and increased spends.”
John Bowtell, owner of Grove Farm Cotswold Cottages in Minster Lovell, said: “The Council’s tourism service is to be congratulated for the amount of effort and enthusiasm they not only put into the forum at Blenheim, but throughout the year. The annual Visitor Guide brochure is a credit to them and certainly helps to promote our business.”
The Tourism Strategy can be viewed on the Council’s website, www.westoxon.gov.uk/tourismstrategy, or via the Oxfordshire Cotswolds website, www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org/strategy
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