Posted on Wednesday 8th March
Ambitious plans to drive continued growth in the tourism sector were announced at The National Forest Tourism Business Forum at Calke Abbey on Tuesday 7 March.
Over 120 people representing tourism businesses throughout the 200 square miles of The National Forest attended the event to celebrate the achievements of the first 25 years of The National Forest and the development of a vibrant visitor economy.
Achievements include a 16% growth in visitor numbers to the Forest since 2003 (the year figures were first recorded).
The overall theme of the Forum was growth and collaboration and many of the partners attending the event were the very same who had taken a great leap of faith in supporting The National Forest in the early days. The event was a wonderful opportunity to reflect and celebrate the fantastic achievements so far and share the vision for where we go next.
Michele Grant of Blue Sail, the organisation that has worked with the NFC to develop the Draft National Forest Tourism Growth Plan, introduced the Plan and outlined the opportunities it will create for tourism businesses and all those involved in this important sector. She explained the importance of all businesses helping to express and harness the ‘personality’ of the Forest, this “special woodland place”.
Richard Drakeley, Tourism Development Manager for the NFC, expanded on this further as he introduced the #forestlife campaign. By aligning businesses within the Forest and outside the boundary more closely with The National Forest brand, everyone can benefit as we develop the distinctiveness of the Forest.
As well as picking up lots of facts and figures, delegates valued the opportunity to network and share best practice. It was also encouraging to see established businesses sharing their knowledge and tips for success with newcomers to the industry.
The National Forest Tourism Business Forum was supported by lead sponsor and National Forest print distribution partner, Pear Communications, together with support from East Staffordshire Borough Council, North West Leicestershire District Council and South Derbyshire District Council.
Simon Evans, Director of Operations, National Forest Company: Celebrating 25 Years of Achievement
John Everitt, Chief Executive, National Forest Company: the current position of The National Forest Company
Kurt Janson, Director, Tourism Alliance: Key Tourism Trends and Rural Tourism
Michele Grant, Director, Blue Sail: The National Forest Tourism Growth Plan
Richard Drakeley, Tourism Development Manager, National Forest Company: Delivering the Growth Plan
Stewart Alcock, General Manager, National Trust Calke Abbey: Calke Abbey Outdoor Visitor Hub
View all of the presentations from the Forum on our You Tube channel
Martin Peters, Leicester Shire Promotions, led the group on Collaboration & Packaging which included round table discussions on ideas of how to work together to package offers to the visitors of The National Forest as well as identifying times when they need help and support to gain extra business.
Malcolm Gallagher, Winning Moves, then delivered a self-help guide on Making the most of tripadvisor.
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