Press Release – 12/10/2023
Tourism leaders met in Taunton last week to discuss a new direction for the county’s visitor economy as a result of a government commissioned review of how the sector is structured across the country.
Visit Somerset and Visit Exmoor are the officially recognised promotional and management boards that entice visitors to the county, resulting in a sector worth £1bn and providing over 20,000 jobs. The 2021 review was undertaken by the recently-appointed Chair of the British Tourist Authority Nick de Bois, and concluded that a rationalisation of the existing Destination Management Organisations would result in more streamlined and effective delivery of government initiatives in regional and local areas.
The changes would result in the formation of new Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEPs), each of whom will have a closer relationship with VisitEngland that will provide opportunities for sector development projects. Within the new partnership discussed for Somerset will be a network of local stakeholders that include Visit Somerset and Visit Exmoor along with Somerset Council and a number of town councils, countryside groups and other organisations to whom visitors are an important part of their strategy.
Giles Adams, Chair of Visit Somerset commented, “We are delighted at the opportunity that has been greatly assisted by the Heart of the South West LEP who have funded this in-depth exercise by expert consultants Tomorrow’s Tourism to develop a framework that can form the basis of a LVEP application to VisitEngland later this year. If successful, it will mean for the first time ever that Somerset will have a significant representation at national level to increase its impact as a visitor destination, greatly assisting the county’s economy.”
Emma Thomasson, Chief Executive of Visit Exmoor stated, “Our collaborative efforts with Somerset Council are part of an ongoing journey to work more strategically together. This approach enables us to better elevate and grow Somerset and Exmoor’s visitor economy. Visit Somerset and Visit Exmoor, already work well together where appropriate and have a shared vision aim to inspire visitors and bolster our visitor economy businesses. With the introduction of the LVEP and the invaluable support from the LEP, we’re poised to take our collaboration to the next level. As an LVEP, our shared vision is not merely about growth, but about supporting uplifting the remarkable businesses that are the foundation our visitor offering. This alliance underscores our commitment to the continuous growth and prosperity of Somerset and Exmoor’s visitor economy.”