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It’s been a long time coming, but a seismic shift has started in the way tourism is being recognised by national Government – and Destination Lincolnshire is bringing this step change into Greater Lincolnshire.
Over the coming weeks, a new strategic plan for tourism and the visitor economy will be written. Businesses can now take part online, following the six workshops that have already taken place in person across the county at Lincoln, Brigg, Stamford, Spalding, Skegness and Louth. This strategic plan will be the roadmap which underpins our collective ambitions, our North Star to follow. But most importantly it means we’ll all be pulling in the same direction to reach our goals, align activities and tackle the things that are holding this sector back.
The step change started on Friday, March 17 at The Blue Room in Lincoln, where Destination Lincolnshire gathered together Greater Lincolnshire’s strategic visitor economy and destination development stakeholders - including business leaders, MPs, Councils, GLLEP and Visitor Economy Sector Board Reps, and educational providers - to discuss how the county will embrace the NEW national destination management organisation scheme from VisitEngland following the de Bois Review and what a new strategic plan (Greater Lincolnshire Destination Management Plan, aka a DMP) should look like.
From a strategic viewpoint, the de Bois review and the resulting scheme will see a much more structured destination management landscape develop, with new DDPs (Destination Development Partnerships) and LVEPs (Local Visitor Economy Partnerships) created to align closely with VisitEngland and DCMS.
Developed and administered by VisitEngland, the national portfolio of strategic and high-performing LVEPs support collaborative working locally and nationally on shared priorities and targets to grow the local visitor economy. The creation of LVEPs was part of the UK Government’s response to the recommendations of ‘The de Bois Review: an independent review of DMOs in England’, to reshape destination management across England, reducing fragmentation and bringing coherence to its DMO landscape.
Underpinning the development of Greater Lincolnshire’s LVEP and DMP and steering its direction will be the results of the 12-month Visitor Economy Research project undertaken by NGI Solutions, commissioned by Destination Lincolnshire, the findings of which were also presented at the event.
The largest research project of its kind, this valuable resource offers a comprehensive profile of current visitors and provides unprecedented insight into how they are experiencing the county. The research also investigated non-visitors to understand and identify the barriers and challenges facing Greater Lincolnshire as a visitor destination to recognise where opportunities for growth and development lie.
Charlotte Goy, CEO of Destination Lincolnshire said: “This gathering was all about bringing together our strategic place leaders, from around the county, to begin those conversations about how we build the future of our visitor economy.
“The policy updates we’ve seen in line with Nick de Bois’s review present us with some innovative changes that we can build on over the next couple of years, to truly put Greater Lincolnshire around the table among those top destinations. To make this happen, we must ensure we have the right stakeholders working together in partnership.
“Led by the data that Ian Thomas and his team at NGI Solutions have been researching over the last 12 months, I’m confident that together we will all be on the starting line, ready to march forward this new era in tourism, collectively growing Greater Lincolnshire’s £2.4 billion visitor economy socially and sustainably through product development, by tackling seasonality and supporting the workforce skills agenda.”
While the research highlights significant room for growth across the sector, it also identifies the need for stakeholders to work together to overcome a number of key challenges facing the county. Going forward, working together to create Great Lincolnshire’s DMP will be the next step in collectively understanding how we overcome them.
Ian Thomas, Destination Director at NGI Solutions, said: “Here in Lincolnshire, you have a huge opportunity. There is nothing in the data that scares me, what it says to me is ‘let’s work together and make this better’. People are experiencing some wonderful things countywide, with TripAdvisor ratings staying high at 4.5-5 for attractions. But we need to talk about how, through the DMP, we can get more people through the doors.
“Moving forward it needs to be about developing the product to collectively package more of the county-wide experiences we have, to turn more of the 62% of day visitors into 3–4-day trips. From the research, we know that 78% of visitors are actively looking for somewhere new and different. And within that, we know historical sites, open spaces, cultural events, and attractions pull visitors in. All things Lincolnshire has in abundance.”