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Destination management

Find out more about the destination management of the English Riviera.

The visitor experience must be a consistent high-quality right across the destination with ‘brilliant basics’ (parking, access, toilets, services, waste etc), animated and attractive towns in which to stay, linger, shop, and eat, alongside the attractions and experiences that are the main reason for visiting.

The ‘brilliant basics’ are things which don’t in themselves drive visits, but influence visitor’s enjoyment, spend and dwell-time in the destination; and crucially if they are missing or poorly managed will negatively influence the resort’s reputation.
The public sector usually has an important role to play and while the Destination Management Group is not responsible for these services, it needs to influence and engage with those who are responsible.

There are seven Destination Management priorities, the delivery tasks for each are set out below:

Priority 1 - Visitor accommodation

The management of accommodation change of use with Council planning policies is essential to avoid the risk and drift toward low quality visitor accommodation. This includes the provision of temporary, emergency, and short-term residential accommodation within the areas of tourism, (e.g., Core Tourism Investment Areas), which could damage the reputation of the destination and create conflict with neighbouring visitor-focused businesses.

It is better to support the transition to alternative uses which complement the ambitions for the remaining visitor accommodation and the objectives set within this Plan to drive the visitor economy. Torbay has 31,000 bedspaces and, even though half of it is non-serviced, the remaining 15,000 spaces still represents an over-supply.

Task 4: Policy Review

Review the Local Plan and prepare supplementary planning documents to assist in transition of redundant accommodation.

  • Outcome: 2% reduction in serviced accommodation stock
  • Measured by: Hotel Stock Study in 2027
  • Delivered by: Torbay Council
  • Resources: Existing resources
  • Timetable: 2023-30

Priority 2 - Brilliant basics

Public services and open spaces, such as beach management, cleansing, signage, toilets, grounds maintenance, planting, parking, public safety, and lighting are all examples of things which contribute to the visitor welcome, experience, enjoyment, and overall satisfaction of the destination.

Consideration is therefore needed for the management of these services to support the objectives of this plan to grow the visitor economy all year round. Service providers, such as Torbay Council, should welcome the findings from visitor surveys and the DMG should ensure this happens and for the relevant services to proactively engage and where possible improve these ‘Brilliant Basics.’

Task 5. Joint Response to Visitor Surveys

Undertake a review exercise across delivery teams to plan actions that address the findings of visitor surveys.

  • Outcome: Lift all survey scores above 4 or by 0.5 points (‘21 baseline)
  • Measured by: (Annual) Visitor Survey
  • Delivered by: Torbay Council, ERBIDCo, TDA (support)
  • Resources: Existing resources
  • Timetable: 2022-27

Priority 3 - Towns and connectivity

There are examples of excellent public realm across the three towns, but there are also areas in which it is poor and areas where retail is struggling. In some cases, investment through the Towns Fund and other programmes are being used to improve the public realm, but further work is needed in areas that include for example around the Inner Harbour in Torquay and the area around Brixham Harbour. These are areas with potential for visitors and which would benefit from improved design and investment.

The three towns are part of the English Riviera offer and connectivity including signage between the towns should be reviewed to see how it can be improved for visitors. This includes all modes of travel, public transport, and low carbon impact, including green travel options. Future development of cruise-tourism by Tor Bay Harbour Authority and ERBIDCo, should aim to maximise the impact from day visitors in terms of spend and actively address and mitigate environmental impacts.

Task 6: Public Realm Improvements

Further develop public realm improvement plans for visitor areas. Focus on Brixham Harbourside and Torquay Inner Harbour to complement and enhance improvements around the Strand.

  • Outcome: Score 4.5 on visitor survey in these specific locations
  • Measured by: (Annual) Visitor Survey
  • Delivered by: Torbay Council, ERBIDCo, TDA (support)
  • Resources: £75,000 (TBD, one off, concept design)
  • Timetable: 2022-30

Task 7: Bus network improvements

Explore options to rename (rather than number) the visitor routes and align to the Geopark story e.g. ‘The English Riviera Route.’

  • Outcome: Score 4.5 on ‘Public Transport – Quality’
  • Measured by: (Annual) Visitor Survey
  • Delivered by: ERBIDCo, transport providers, ERUGGP
  • Resources: TBD
  • Timetable: 2022-27

Task 8: Cruise development

Develop shore excursions and tailor-made experiences for cruise operators which relate to the development themes of this DMP.

  • Outcome: Three new shore excursion programmes developed
  • Measured by: Business survey and cruise arrivals
  • Delivered by: Tor Bay Harbour Authority, ERBIDCo, private sector
  • Resources: Existing resources
  • Timetable: 2022-30

Priority 4 - Sustainable tourism

Ensuring clean growth and low-carbon actions are implemented as part of any new developments, including those outlined in the growth priorities of this DMP are necessary to protect and enhance our naturally inspiring bay and if the English Riviera is serious about becoming a sustainable destination. By working in collaboration and aligning the DMP with the ambitions of Carbon Neutral Torbay and Torbay Climate Partnership will help the destination to achieve these aspirations. There is also a unique opportunity to use the UNESCO Global Geopark designation as a focus for sustainable tourism in the area and maximise engagement with businesses and visitors.

There is a growing need to address climate change and consider measures that would have the greatest impact in reducing the climate impact from tourism to the English Riviera. Baselining the current impacts and developing measures that work across the three domains of business, visitors and the destination will drive improvements. This cannot happen overnight, and support is needed to identify the right opportunities over time and to help our businesses to decarbonise and take advantage of the economic benefits achieving carbon neutrality will bring, which can only happen through collaboration.

Task 9: Green tourism for business

Explore options and encourage businesses to achieve the Green Tourism Award (or other zero/carbon neutral programmes), aligning to Carbon Neutral Torbay, to showcase exemplars of good practice and supporting the overall reputation of the destination.

  • Outcome: 5% of tourism businesses accredited by Green Tourism
  • Measured by: Award take up
  • Delivered by: Torbay Council, Torbay Climate Partnership, ERUGGp, Private sector, ERBIDCo
  • Resources: Existing resources/ identify new funding opportunities
  • Timetable: 2022-30

Task 10: Carbon Neutral Torbay

Explore the options to align Carbon Neutral Torbay with the UNESCO Glasgow Declaration on Climate Change as a commitment to a more sustainable visitor economy.

  • Outcome: Deliver Declaration Action Plan
  • Measured by: Annual monitoring of Plan
  • Delivered by: Torbay Council, Torbay Climate Partnership, ERUGGp, DMG, Private sector
  • Resources: Existing resources/ identify new funding opportunities
  • Timetable: 2022-30

Priority 5 – Skills

Making tourism an attractive career choice for young people with exciting career pathways needs to start early and is essential to growing the visitor economy. Connecting businesses with educational establishments for work experience, career talks, to highlight the career pathways and local green jobs will help to relaunch the sector and recover from the impacts of Covid-19 building the skills and workforce to help deliver carbon neutral.

The visitor economy is a broad sector encompassing accommodation, culture, heritage, attractions, activities, events, hospitality, tour operators and more, all requiring a mixture of universal and specialist skills and offering long term, all year-round career options. The English Riviera is fortunate to have South Devon College in its boundary which should lead on skills development for the sector and engagement with schools, businesses, and young people. There are a wide range of skills and education programmes delivered by the College including 16–18-year-old studies, apprenticeships, adult skills, and higher education, which can support increasing skills and sustainable employment in the sector. The College also has a good reputation of working with businesses to develop curriculum to meet the needs of the sector, (e.g., the alignment of the UNESCO Geopark with outdoor curriculum). These opportunities should be further explored further, as well as improving links with local schools and Careers Information Advice and Guidance.

Task 11: Education Business Plans for Tourism

Annual plan for business engagement in education supporting career pathways for young people.

  • Outcome: 10 businesses engaged
  • Measured by: Review of annual plan
  • Delivered by: SDC, Private Businesses
  • Resources: Existing resources
  • Timetable: 2022-30

Action 23: Workforce Skills

Annual plan to increase business engagement to improve the skills of the workforce (and the unemployed) through take up of programmes.

  • Outcome: 10 businesses engaged
  • Measured by: Review of annual plan
  • Delivered by: SDC, Private Businesses
  • Resources: Existing resources
  • Timetable: 2022-30

Priority 6 - Research and insights

Research, data, and insights is an important function which will help better understand English Riviera visitors, track performance, and assess the impact of the DMP. As well as visitor research, economic impact studies and accommodation performance should be used to track destination performance. A small number of KPIs including accommodation occupancy and yield, destination spend, and employment are the best measures for tracking performance. More detailed analysis can be added to this baseline and ad hoc studies (e.g. Visitor Surveys, Overseas Market Studies etc) can be undertaken over time.

Task 13: Annual Performance Review

Deliver a number of annual surveys to review destination performance.

  • Outcome: Surveys delivered and shared with businesses/ stakeholders
  • Measured by: Review of ERBIDCo business plan activity
  • Delivered by: ERBIDCo
  • Resources: £40,000 (per annum), existing resources
  • Timetable: 2022-27

Priority 7 - Business tourism

Support should be given to the development of Meet English Riviera to capitalise on the clean growth opportunities for business tourism. While competition is fierce, the range and quality of venues in the English Riviera and the proximity to business and universities in Exeter, Plymouth and the surrounding area does present some opportunities. In the short term, many of these opportunities are constrained by Covid-19, but over the period of this DMP the sector is likely to recover. The £70bn value of the sector dropped by £59bn in 2020 and, despite some recovery in late 2021, is likely to take some time to fully recover due to international travel restrictions and risks to event organisers. Improving the capability of businesses to offer hybrid events will continue to be important for future success.

Task 14: Meet English Riviera

Develop activity to support conference sales and marketing activity over the life of the DMP.

  • Outcome: £5m value of conference bookings over life of DMP
  • Measured by: Enquiry monitoring
  • Delivered by: Meet English Riviera
  • Resources: £25,000 (per annum), identify new funding opportunities
  • Timetable: 2022-30