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Posted 25/10/2016

INVESTMENT IN CHELTENHAM'S TOURISM CONTINUES AS ANNUAL GROWTH OF 5% IS REPORTED

New figures released for Cheltenham have revealed that the tourism economy in Cheltenham in 2015 was worth £154 million, an increase of 5% on 2014, with overnight stays up 2% (356,300 visits) and UK visitors to the town increasing by 5%.  

Steve Jordan, Council Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council said, ‘We are delighted to see growth in the tourism economy and really appreciate the efforts of all those businesses involved in helping bring visitors to the town.’ 

‘We have focused our investment in tourism over the past two years through the work of the Cheltenham Trust and the commissioning of a tourism review and strategy.  With these in place we hope we can take tourism growth to another level.’

In 2014 The Cheltenham Trust was formed.  The Cheltenham Trust is an independent registered charity focused on developing Cheltenham’s culture and sport offer through community engagement, sustainable investment and social enterprise.  Included in their remit is the delivery of tourism services. In late 2014 the Cheltenham Tourism Partnership was also established whose members include Cheltenham Hospitality Association and The Jockey Club.  During 2014/15 Cheltenham Borough Council commissioned a review of tourism by experienced tourism consultants Creative Tourist.  From this came recommendations and a vision to take tourism forward to 2020. 

Julie Finch, Chief Executive of The Cheltenham Trust commented,
‘We are working together with Cheltenham Borough Council and the Cheltenham Tourism Partnership across the locality to find a much bigger and better solution to promoting Cheltenham to the world to attract a greater share of the Tourism market, both domestic and international.’

One of the first actions to come from the strategy was the recruitment in July 2016 of Kelly Ballard, former Head of Marketing for Destination Bristol.  Kelly will lead on bringing the Cheltenham tourism industry together as well as managing the tourism and marketing strategy.

Kelly says ‘There are so many things that make Cheltenham a fantastic place to visit, study or live, we just need to bring them to the surface and begin a marketing programme in collaboration with others to tell the world.’

‘Working with the Tourism Partnership initially we are going to be looking at a business model that bring the private and public sectors together to create a sustainable tourism sector. The aim is to increase visitors year-round, as well as looking at the experience a visitor has when they come to the town.  We are also working to define a distinctive Cheltenham brand - this is vital if we are to stand out from other UK destinations and attract people from across the world.’

‘It’s also very positive for the region that the recent figures show that Gloucester is increasingly attractive to tourists. By all parties in the connecting destinations working together, we can create a really compelling story as to why people should come and visit, invest or choose to study here.’

Since their formation in 2014 the Cheltenham Trust has successfully promoted key attractions, venues and services in Cheltenham through the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) based on Clarence Street and the website www.visitcheltenham.com.  They have seen footfall of over 450,000 to the TIC and attracted 750,000 hits to the website which has seen a positive 10% growth in unique users this year alone . Despite the increase in use of the internet for tourism research, they are still seeing a significant demand for traditional services which require a face to face booking service. Their tourism delivery plan is expected imminently and will support the emerging tourism strategy for the town.

Claire Thayers, Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce tourism representative said, “Tourism is important to Cheltenham’s economy so it is vital that we work together, focusing on the marketing of the town, improving communications, and firmly putting Cheltenham on the map. This will ultimately help businesses with recruitment, inward investment, and bringing more foreign students into the town, win win for all!’

Any business that is part of the visitor economy and wishes to be kept up to date on future developments should contact jeni.attwood@cheltenhamtrust.org.uk

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