Short Breaks set to boost tourism in Winchester

Press Release: 18/01/2006

Winchester City Council's tourism service has launched two new short break packages in a bid to attract more staying visitors to the District. The themed itineraries are promoted in the new Winchester Visitor Guide 2006, which was published by Winchester Tourism at the end of 2005.

The first of the two packages, the Jane Austen short break, has been devised to capitalise on the resurgence of interest in all things Austen since the release of the new movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley last autumn. The break includes two nights' accommodation plus dinner at either Lainston House Hotel or the Winchester Royal Hotel, entry to Jane Austen's House at Chawton and a personal guided tour of Jane Austen's Winchester with one of the city's qualified tourist guides.

The second package is a gourmet break, which has been developed in association with local producers' network Hampshire Fare and is aimed at the growing number of 'food tourists' flocking to the area to experience its delicious produce, such as trout and watercress. The package includes a visit to Winchester's renowned farmers' market, a 'Hampshire hamper' and an overnight stay and three-course meal at Lainston House Hotel, where head chef Andrew Mackenzie works with local suppliers to source Hampshire-grown ingredients for his award-winning menu. The packages are a new feature of the Winchester Visitor Guide 2006, which works alongside the visitor website www.visitwinchester.co.uk to encourage short breaks to the District.

Karen Brazier, Winchester City Council's tourism marketing manager, explained, "Overnight stays are far more lucrative than day visits, and we are keen to see more people coming on short breaks to the District.  But it is a competitive market, particularly with so many cheap flights now available to more 'exotic' cities around Europe.  In fact, it is often easier to book a city break abroad than to arrange a weekend away in the UK, which is why we have taken the step of packaging our breaks: potential visitors to Winchester will now find that one call or e-mail conveniently books the whole weekend.  We are confident that the short breaks initiative will help to attract today's generation of 'cash rich, time poor' young professionals."

 Councillor Thérèse Evans, portfolio holder for culture, heritage and sport, added, "Winchester Tourism is one of only a small number of local authority tourism offices to sell short break packages, and I am delighted to see such a proactive response to the challenges posed by current market trends. The packages cleverly exploit some of the District's most distinctive attributes to appeal to higher-spending visitors.  I am looking forward to seeing our menu of short  breaks grow over the coming years to include B&Bs and rural accommodation as well as more traditional hotel stays."

Both the Jane Austen break and the gourmet break are bookable via Winchester Tourist Information Centre. Telephone 01962 840 500, email tourism@winchester.gov.uk or go to www.visitwinchester.co.uk for details.