Comment: working together is vital to achieve world-class results

Jo Dilley, managing director of Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire, says partnership is the key to the visitor economy’s continuing economic success.

Close co-operation between the public and private sectors, tourist boards and their partners and VisitEngland and VisitBritain is vital to secure the future success and prosperity of the visitor economy.

That was the clear message that we delivered at our recent Annual Tourism Conference, when all the main speakers called for everyone in the industry to work together to continue to create a world-class destination and five-star visitor experience.

Keynote speaker, television presenter Julia Bradbury, echoed this view and told delegates that the key is communication, and that working collaboratively is much more successful. She urged everyone to help and work with and for each other, and to not always think of neighbours as competition.

Our experience – bringing together a wide range of partners, patrons, members, ourselves and the national tourist boards – bears this out.

More dynamic

By coming together, we are far more dynamic. Our mission is to make the Peak District and Derbyshire the destination of choice – regionally, nationally and globally. We want to offer a world-class experience, encouraging visitors to share and recommend the area as great place to take a holiday.

We can only achieve this by working in partnership and securing support from public and private sources to help us achieve our ambition.

The income we receive from our public and private partners through grants, patronage and membership is extremely important in our on-going quest to secure further funding from sources such as VisitEngland’s Discover England Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.

Since 2016, we have attracted an extra £2.5 million to help us achieve our ambitions.

Discover England funding is enabling us to be part of five major projects aimed at generating growth in key international markets.

We are collaborating with other tourist boards and a wide range of other partners and organisations to deliver these, and are leading on England’s Great Walking Trails, aimed at attracting more staying visitors from Germany, the Netherlands and the US.

We are also extremely pleased to have secured a three-year funding agreement from Derbyshire County Council, which recognises the fundamental role we play in marketing tourism and business support, both at home and overseas.

As Councillor Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council, told delegates at our conference, we are much more than that.

Focal point

We are the focal point for business support to the visitor economy sector, which we are currently delivering through a £1.49 million programme, Growing and Developing the Visitor Economy within Derbyshire, supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

The three-year initiative, which we are delivering until March 2019, has helped hundreds of the area’s businesses improve their quality, profitability and performance through free workshops, one-to-one advice and development and networking events.

This is another fine example of effective partnership working, bringing together ourselves, Derbyshire County Council, the Peak District National Park Authority, Derbyshire Dales District Council and High Peak Borough Council.

Together, we are encouraging businesses to be Inspired by the Peak District, supporting our market towns to help them increase and share visitor numbers, developing the growing, high-spending cycling market and promoting the Peak District Environmental Quality Mark (EQM) – an award presented to businesses that put pride in the Peak District at the heart of their operations.

Last but certainly not least, we have an ever-growing band of about 500 partners, patrons and members, who all make a key contribution to our continuing success.

Our founding patron was Chatsworth, and we are now fortunate enough to have 14 of our leading local and regional businesses and organisations on board, all championing our cause as ambassadors and backing our wider efforts to market the area, nationally and internationally.

As one of our most enthusiastic supporters, The Duke of Devonshire, recently, and succinctly, observed: “Together we can create and sustain a visitor economy. Together, we are stronger.”