The tourism and leisure sector has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. Across the Bath and Bristol area, this sector employs 45,000 people (8% of the workforce) and contributes almost £2.5 billion to the economy.
In response to this unprecedented crisis, the boards of Destination Bristol and Visit Bath are proposing a new Destination Management Organisation (DMO) that can provide a full range of services to businesses in this sector, whilst actively maintaining the distinctive local consumer brands Visit Bath and Visit Bristol, and the programmes and services that underpin these brands. Support will include both travel trade and consumer marketing, a convention bureau, business support and development.
The new organisation will be a significant industry presence creating new routes to market and putting the sub-region in a much stronger position to access new additional funding to support businesses in the sector. The new organisation will need to reflect the diversity and strength of the sector and bringing together the two existing DMOs will provide better value for money and greater efficiency of operation.
The Boards recognise the crucial importance of working closely with local Government to develop an appropriate public/private sector partnership focused on maximising the visitor economy, and will work closely with Bristol City, Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset Councils.
John Hirst, Chief Executive of Destination Bristol, said: “The hospitality and tourism sector was the first to be hit by lockdown and will be the last to recover. We need to do everything we can to support businesses by making sure that we have a stronger presence. Creating a new company to promote this area will be more resilient and gives us a strong voice with organisations such as VisitBritain and VisitEngland.”
Kathryn Davis, Interim Chief Executive of Visit Bath and Head of Tourism at Destination Bristol, said, “Destination Bristol and Visit Bath enjoy an existing and longstanding collaboration, so now is the time to consolidate and cement that relationship to give the region one strong voice. A united DMO will have the skilled staff and resources to provide excellent professional services to all its members across the West of England.”
Welcoming the proposition, Sally Balcombe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain, commented that the timing was perfect and a really good example of partnership working which would enable funding to support the sector to be channelled more effectively.