Town Forum and tourism

    A panel of tourism experts will be taking the floor in Winchester Guildhall on Wednesday 21 June to look at Winchester's potential for attracting more overseas visitors.

This month's Town Forum meeting, one of an ongoing programme of free public debates and discussions arranged by Winchester City Council, carries the title Putting Winchester on the Map: Creating a Higher Global Profile.

The speakers include Françoise Amet, a public relations consultant from France specializing in the travel industry who has worked for the last two years for the overseas marketing consortium called Southern English Cities of which Winchester is a founding member. Françoise will talk about Gallic perceptions of England's historic cities and the need to present Winchester in a way which will appeal to these perceptions.

Also on the agenda is Christine Melia, the Commercial Director at the regional tourism agency Tourism South East, who will outline some exciting international opportunities on the horizon such as the newly opened Chinese leisure market and the potential of the Olympics in 2012 to bring new visitors to Winchester.

Julian Tomlin, the General Manager of the exclusive Lainston House Hotel at Sparsholt, will then explain how his very successful business has adapted to attract and meet the needs of customers from overseas in recent years. And there will also be an opportunity to hear from the City Council's own tourism marketing team about what is already being done to put Winchester on the international map.

The second part of the evening will take the form of a workshop session, giving those attending a chance to discuss how Winchester can make the most of the worldwide marketplace in a cost-effective way.

Cllr Peter Rees, Chairman of the Town Forum, said Winchester is a wonderful destination, whether for business or pleasure.

"It offers a complete range of suitable venues for leisure and commercial interests. This meeting of the Town Forum will give everyone the opportunity to help put this historic and beautiful City within the reach of those who make it their destination. It will also illustrate our heritage and what excellent facilities and hospitality we can provide," he added.

Winchester City Council's own tourism service has organized the forum and, says Head of Cultural Services Eloise Appleby, is keen to hear what local people think:

"Tourism is already a £222 million industry for the Winchester District and we know from regular surveys that our residents welcome tourists and appreciate their value in terms of making the city a vibrant and prosperous place in which to live. But we have always tried to work with local people to shape tourism strategy and this is an excellent opportunity for anyone with an interest to join the discussions."

Karen Brazier, Tourism Marketing Manager for the City Council, added: "Overseas visitors are the 'holy grail' of the tourist industry - all destinations want to attract them because they spend the most per head and they tend to stay longer than visitors from within the UK. But we have to be clever with our modest resources if we are really to make any impact on the international scene and hope there might be some creative ideas generated by this Town Forum meeting."

The Forum meeting - which takes place from 7pm to 9pm - is free for anyone to attend, and there is no to pre-book. If you would like further information please contact Colin Veal on 01962 848 438 or email

You can also find out about the role of the City Council's Town Forum on our website