VisitWiltshire today (Wednesday) held its first tourism forum since the destination marketing organisation became a private company in 2011.
The event attracted an audience of more than 160 VisitWiltshire members and partners from across the county.
The event offered visitors the chance to contribute to VisitWiltshire’s future through an interactive planning session, and to hear about the company’s plans to promote the county and influence tourism development in 2012 and beyond.
Speakers at the event included Jeremy Brinkworth, director of business development at VisitEngland, Ian Rose, double Paralympic medallist and VisitWiltshire’s chief executive, David Andrews.
Mr Andrews said: "I'm delighted we've attracted so many members and partners from across the county to today's event. Not only do we have a record turnout for this type of tourism event in Wiltshire, but we’ve had fantastic levels of engagement and participation too. Our ambition is to be among the best tourism marketing organisations in the country. The direction and priorities we’ve developed with the industry today will provide a platform from which we can achieve this ambition."
VisitWiltshire priorities discussed at the Tourism Forum include launching a new website and online marketing focus in July; increasing arts, culture, retail and eating out membership; significantly increasing travel trade and PR activity, and developing new sector groups and industry partnerships.
Jeremy Brinkworth gave an insightful speech about the overall national tourism industry, latest tourism trends and VisitEngland’s huge 20.12 marketing campaign.
Mr Brinkworth said: "Overall the UK tourism sector is doing very well with increases in both overnight stays and attraction visits.
"What might be of interest to you here in Wiltshire is that an estimated 60 per cent of people in the UK have seen our new TV advertisement which features Wiltshire twice, showcasing both Castle Combe and Stonehenge. That’s a great message for the county.
"Contrary to many concerns from destinations outside of London, our research also shows that the London 2012 Olympics will not have an impact on people’s holiday plans. Those who were already planning to visit places like Wiltshire during this time, still will visit. This is positive news for everyone working in the tourism industry, including you here in Wiltshire."
The 160 delegates had a chance to help guide VisitWiltshire's future priorities and to give views on how they want to see the organisation develop via an interactive workshop session.
Currently the tourism industry is worth an estimated £1 billion per annum to Wiltshire's economy and supports more than 20,000 jobs.
For more information about VisitWiltshire and to become a member, visit http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/ or call 0845 602 7323.