Yesterday (12 October), we welcomed Nigel Huddleston MP, Minister for Sport and Tourism, to West Somerset and Exmoor.
As part of a wider trip visiting businesses in locations around the South West, Minister Huddleston came to Minehead to meet local tourism and hospitality providers and industry representatives.
Tourism accounts for approximately 60% of all employment within Exmoor National Park. The annual value of tourism to “Greater Exmoor” (inc. a10 mile radius around the National Park, including Minehead) is estimated to be £404m.
This summer across Exmoor and West Somerset, our area visitor economy businesses have been focused on welcoming a high volume of visitors to the area. This has been challenging, with significant job vacancies and staff absence. Businesses have needed to adapt, changing their services and offerings, as they have struggled to find key staff to fulfil many roles from chefs, front of house, housekeeping and various management positions.
The tourism and hospitality industry across the area is now focused on extending the season, inspiring visitors all year round, and looking at medium- and longer-term solutions to the challenges we have faced since reopening this year.
Minister Huddleston met with with Emma Thomasson (Visit Exmoor), Billy Rowlinson (Cross Lane House), Nicola Ratcliffe (Resort Director, Butlins Minehead), Andrew Hopkins (Minehead BID and Visit Somerset), Dan James (Rural Enterprise Manager, Exmoor National Park), Peter Hoyland (Exmoor National Park Visitor Centre, Dunster) and Councillor Marcus Kravis (Somerset West and Taunton Council).
Emma Thomasson, CEO for Visit Exmoor, comments, “We were delighted to host Minister Huddleston here in West Somerset and Exmoor. It was a fantastic opportunity to highlight the quality experiences and visitor offerings we have and introduce the Minister to representatives from our area tourism and hospitality business. We had a productive meeting discussing some of the real issues businesses have faced and how we develop our vital visitor economy in a sustainable way for the future.”
Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “From the beautiful Lynmouth Beach to the attractions at Butlin’s Minehead, there is something for everyone across West Somerset and Exmoor. I know it’s been a challenging 18 months for the tourism and hospitality industry and I was fascinated to hear about local businesses’ plans to develop sustainably into the future.”
*(Exmoor STEAM survey (2018) and Rural Enterprise Exmoor research (2020)).
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Marketing, Visit Exmoor