Steve Brine MP marks British Tourism Week with a Winchester Greet

Steve Brine, local MP for the Winchester and Chandler's Ford constituency, celebrated British Tourism Week with one of Visit Winchester’s new volunteer greeters, Elaine Howells, who introduced Mr Brine MP to ‘her’ Winchester.

Winchester City Council’s Visit Winchester team invited Mr Brine to trial the new Visit Winchester Greeters scheme and also to hear about the council’s future plans to support the local tourism industry in conjunction with Hampshire County Council.

The City Council introduced an American-style volunteer ‘greeters’ scheme at the beginning of this year to give a free, personal welcome to Winchester’s visitors as the city gets ready to ‘welcome the world’ in the run up to the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A dozen volunteers have undergone a rigorous selection and training process and now act as ambassadors who greet visitors with a personal view of ‘their Winchester. Visitors and residents can book a free greet online at

After his greet, Mr Brine met Ellen Simpson, Winchester City Council’s Head of Tourism and local businessman Andy Lane, Marketing Manager of Intech Science Centre and Planetarium to find out more about the exciting plans that Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council are outlining for tourism locally.

From April 2011 the two tourism marketing services will merge to develop and manage the Visit Winchester and Visit Hampshire brands from Hampshire County Council offices with a view to creating a ‘Destination Management Organisation’ co-funded by the authorities and private businesses. The two authorities have already gained local backing from key tourism businesses in this move. Andy Lane, Marketing Manager of Intech Science Centre and Planetarium said, ‘It makes sense to consolidate and protect the interests of tourism businesses in the future by investing locally with the services who know our needs. Tourism support has been delivered in a fractured way to date and I know many businesses are welcoming this sensible move from the tried-and-trusted services in Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council that marks a new localism in the industry.’

Steve Brine commented on his visit: “When I heard about the ‘greet’ scheme I instantly saw its value, it’s one of those ideas you cannot believe hasn’t been done for years.  It was a real honour to be Elaine’s first, she was excellent and will do the city proud I am sure.  I am always rushing from or to somewhere when I’m in Winchester and I think we’re all guilty at times of not stopping to look what’s right before our eyes.  I hope the greeter’ programme will be of as much interest to locals as visitors and know it will be a huge success.  Every year Winchester and the surrounding district welcomes a huge number of visitors and we must continue to grow tourism locally because it’s a key industry for the area.”

Cllr Dominic Hiscock, Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Prosperity, commented:‘I have had the pleasure of a greet myself and found it a refreshingly personal experience. As a long-standing resident and past mayor of the city I thought I knew just everything there was to know about Winchester, but was delighted to see the city from someone else’s viewpoint. British Tourism Week is a great opportunity to showcase what is happening locally in the tourism industry and also helps to raise awareness of the activities available to residents and visitors!’