Comment: Now is the time to act

Bob Cotton – the first patron of Experience Oxfordshire – calls on local businesses to work together to boost the county’s £2 billion tourism industry

My parents lived in Oxfordshire for much of their life, I was born in Oxfordshire, went to school in Oxfordshire, and have always regarded the county as my home.

So what other reason would I need to accept the honour of first patron for Experience Oxfordshire?

For the tourist, Oxfordshire has so many possibilities – the city and its ancient colleges, world-famous museums, the rivers and the many unique Cotswolds villages, some fine restaurants and hotels and many pubs, as well as Blenheim Palace, one of England’s grandest homes – worth a day’s visit on its own.

All these attractions make Oxfordshire an ideal tourist destination, which already earns the county more than £2 billion every year.

Serious wisdom

With the government blowing hot and cold about the value and finance of regional tourist boards, Oxfordshire displayed some serious wisdom when it set up its own hybrid local tourist board, the destination management organisation (DMO) Experience Oxfordshire.

Tourism is one of the most important emergent industries in the world (and UK) economy.

But the competition from the rest of the UK and, indeed, worldwide, is intense.

That £2 billion needs to grow if the county is to continue to prosper from tourism.

Despite its many attractions, Oxfordshire still has to fight for its share of the tourism pound.

That’s what Experience Oxfordshire is doing, which benefits every one of the county’s traders and households directly or indirectly.

So, my aim is to encourage even more support for the organisation.

Tourism to an area will only succeed if the greatest number of businesses support its promotion.

It can’t be left to a few far-sighted people.

Oxford is a big county with a great story to tell, attracting a wide variety of visitors – including the day visitor to the city, the week-long holidaymaker, the serious student, or those just keen to enjoy the county’s beautiful acres.

Maximise revenues

It’s a diverse market and if we are to boost that £2 billion income, we need to focus on each of these different markets.

This takes time, money and effort, so the more support Experience Oxfordshire gets, the better equipped it will be to maximise the county’s tourism revenues.

The organisation needs more partners to make significant inroads into boosting the county’s tourism numbers and income.

Now is the time to act – nobody else will do it.

Oxfordshire’s many hotels, restaurants and pubs, shops, tourist attractions and transport interests, farmers and food producers all benefit from the organisation’s efforts.

That benefit will be so much greater if all these businesses join Experience Oxfordshire as a partner.

I’m greatly looking forward to supporting these efforts.