ESL BRINGS THOUGHTS TO DCMS TABLE
We were honoured this month to be asked to be part of a strategic 12-strong West Midlands steering group, chaired by Nick De Bois (Chairman of the VisitEngland Advisory Board), to give recommendations as part of the independent review of Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) being held across the country by central Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Representing Herefordshire, we were in the company of tourism stakeholders from Visit Shropshire, Shakespeares England, Birmingham Airport, Birmingham NEC, Severn Valley Railway Trust, Ironbridge, Black Country Living Museum, West Mids Growth Hub, Marches LEP, the Canal & River Trust, and Culture Central.
The round table discussion, held at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, was split into nine themes including the acknowledgement of the sheer variation in DMO models (private v public), size and funding (if any), as well as their role, effectiveness, sustainability, engagement with wider regional structures, accountability, and a deep dive into how we saw improvements and best practice.
Also, how much of a role central Government should play in this on a regional level, and Visit England/Britain’s role and viability amongst all this.
Nine such regional discussions are to have been held through the first two weeks of June around the country and follow the completion of a national survey and its initial findings.
BUCKING THE TREND
Certainly ESL seems to be bucking some trends in terms of DMO sustainability and even growth.
As you might know, we do not receive any public funding including that from the recent £444,000 awarded by the Marches LEP for Herefordshire tourism.
Nor did we qualify for any of the Government Covid Survival/Recovery or discretionary schemes (except for Furlough), yet we continued to keep ourselves sustainable and operational.
Throughout the pandemic to date we have seen an increase in Memberships far greater than in previous years, and an elevated demand for our guide books from both advertisers and consumers.
This has enabled us to give back greater support to our Members and the tourism community and its consumers. We have been able to invest in media coverage for the area, develop our platforms including a forthcoming redesign of our website, as well as producing more products to inspire people to enjoy Herefordshire, whether they live or visit here.
Let us know how you think we’re doing with your thoughts in our simple feedback app here:
We’ll keep you posted on the national findings as we hear about them, which will hopefully see more support for independent DMOs like us in the future.