Tourism is an environmental, economic and social fact of life for most historic towns, as the EHTF has said many times before. It is in the interest of these places to maximise the benefits to both the destination and visitors alike. As such, advice like 'the Good Practice Guide on Planning for Tourism' (DCLG 2006) is very welcome.
A recent initiative that aims to improve our tourism is the launch of Place Making - A Charter for Destination Management by Partners for England. Partners for England is a collaborative exercise owned by all stakeholders and is being taken forward jointly by VisitBritain for VisitEngland and by the South West RDA on behalf of the RDAs. The Local Government Association fully supports the initiative.The Charter sets out how key organisations can effectively support the development of the visitor economy in a specific area. Organisations are asked to sign up and each will be expected to set out its contribution to delivering the aims of the Charter.
The Charter gives five key principles for excellent destination management: integrate, inform, innovate, invest and improve. Under each of the principles actions for local authorities, Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), Visit Britain and the Tourism Alliance are set out in the spirit of partnership.
The Charter identifies sixty-seven specific actions, almost half of which should be led by local authorities, including amongst others:
- Identify member champions
- Consider visitors, industry, community and environment (VICE) in decision making
- Establish management partnerships
- Collect and share intelligence
- Provide information services
- Share best practice
- Produce strategic development plans
- Link the visitor economy and environmental improvements
- Share best practice
- Invest in key local authority functions
- Prioritise public realm improvements
- Link investment to product development
- Promote quality visitor experience
- Commit to develop skills
- Lead by example in customer service.
While this sets a challenging agenda for the local authorities, it is timely in reinforcing the key role they have to play in supporting this valuable industry and linking it to place making and improving the quality offer.
Historic towns, places that are among the most important for the visitor economy, can play a key part in meeting the aims of the Charter. Mention of the public realm is particularly welcome as it plays into so many issues that are at the heart of the Forums' interests, whether it is street design, Conservation Area management or transport planning.
The Charter is welcome. That said, the Forum can take pride in pointing out that much of what it says was anticipated by 'Making the Connections' (1999) and 'Focus on Tourism' (2006).
For further details of Partners for England and the Charter visit www.tourismtrade.org.uk/Partners_for_EnglandBrian Human