Forum brings West Oxon’s tourism industry together
150 local businesses and organisations attended the Oxfordshire Cotswolds Annual Tourism Forum to discuss the latest developments in tourism and find out about support that is available.
It was a record number of attendees for the annual Forum, which is run by West Oxfordshire District Council to bring together everyone involved in tourism across the district.
The Rt Hon David Cameron, MP for Witney, introduced the evening via videolink and talked about the importance of tourism in West Oxfordshire and further afield, while praising the District Council for supporting the industry locally. Tourism is estimated to be worth around Ł232 million to West Oxfordshire’s economy each year and supports nearly 4,000 full-time jobs. Latest figures due to be released soon are expected to show an increase in the value of tourism to the area.
Cllr Richard Langridge, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Communities, said: “The Forum gives people the chance to get together, share experiences and learn from each other. It also provides essential and key information about the industry and is part of the Council’s commitment to supporting tourism locally.”
“We recognise the importance of tourism to West Oxfordshire, particularly to its economy and employment, and we are very pleased to continue this supportive work and hear such positive feedback from local businesses.”
The Forum, held at Witney Lakes Resort, included a screening of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds DVD which features some of West Oxfordshire’s key attractions and landmarks. The DVD was produced earlier this year to promote the area to potential visitors.
An update was given on the Council’s Tourism Strategy one year after it was launched to set out the Council’s plans to support tourism and promote West Oxfordshire as a must-see visitor destination.
Talks were also given by James Berresford, Chief Executive of Visit England, and Kevin Gibbons, Director of SEOptimise.
Mr Berresford said: “It is great to see a Council so committed to tourism and leading on delivery, but also working closely with all its tourism partners. This is going to be vital in further building the visitor economy and helping us at Visit England to achieve our national targets. The Council has a clear direction with its Tourism Strategy and should be commended on its approach to supporting this sector.”
Tristan Malloy, of Kelmscott Manor, was among representatives from local tourist attractions and accommodation providers who attended the Forum and described it as a “valuable opportunity”.
He added: “As a member of a small staff team representing a small, independent museum, having the expertise, support and efforts of the Council’s tourism team close at hand is important. Alerting us to opportunities, co-ordinating networking meetings, helping to organise familiarisation trips, managing quality web and print marketing material to promote the district, staffing visitor information centres, representing us at national and international tourism fairs, maintaining a district overview – all of this delivers great benefits to an organisation like Kelmscott Manor.”
The Council has a tourism team which works to promote the district and support members of the industry. Work includes marketing the district under the banner of the ‘Oxfordshire Cotswolds’ and running a dedicated website, www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org.
Further information about tourism and the Council’s work, including the Tourism Strategy, is available online at www.westoxon.gov.uk/tourism. Alternatively, call 01993 861080.
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