Learn something new about Winchester from a Visit Winchester Greeter

Did you know that ten local volunteers are waiting in the wings to welcome newcomers to Winchester?

Winchester City Council’s tourism team introduced their new team of volunteer greeters at the official launch of the Visit Winchester Greeters scheme this week (9 May) at an Abbey House reception with the Mayor of Winchester.

The high profile event was also attended by representatives from a number of the city’s businesses, including The Chesil Rectory, Norton Park Hotel, Holiday Inn Winchester, The Hospital of St Cross, Winchester Theatre Royal and Winchester Cathedral. The guests welcomed the new initiative; Mark Dodd from The Chesil Rectory commented, “The Visit Winchester Greeters Scheme is yet another brilliant, forward-thinking initiative from Winchester Tourism. The Scheme will be fantastic because it offers an insider’s view of Winchester and will help visitors to find quality, interesting places as well as larger attractions.”

Visitors and residents can now book a free greet online before their arrival, and they will be welcomed by a local person who gives them an insider’s view of ‘their’ city. The Winchester Greeters scheme is based on a model that came out of Chicago USA. It is a way of harnessing the enthusiasm that local people have for the place where they live in order to offer visitors a richer experience of a destination.

2012 will bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games to London. Marketing Winchester as a world class destination and creating ‘unparalleled visitor experiences’ ready for 2012, are key strands of the new Economic Strategy for the Winchester District and the volunteer greeters can help Winchester achieve this strategy.

John Williams, Chair of Tourism South East, who founded the scheme using money from the South East of England Regional Development Agency, said,
“Winchester has always been at the heart of what the South East has to offer visitors. The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games offer us a unique opportunity – we know people are coming, and this initiative is an example of a key destination ensuring that it is ready to Welcome the World.”

The Mayor of Winchester, Cllr, Richard Izard also commented, “We are extremely grateful to our new team of volunteer greeters as we could not have launched this scheme without their dedication and enthusiasm. They are prepared to give up their time for other people and we hope that they find the experience rewarding and enjoyable.”

The picture shows the new limited edition Visit Winchester Saint Swithun umbrellas with the famous British weather lore proverb, which says that if it rains on Saint Swithun's day, 15 July, it will rain for 40 days. The umbrellas are available to buy now from the tourist information centre for just £14.99. Saint Swithun was the Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester and patron saint of Winchester Cathedral – his memorial shrine can be seen in Winchester Cathedral.

If you have a new member of staff, or if you have friends or relatives visiting and you think they would benefit from an orientation of Winchester, then book a free greet online at www.visitwinchester.co.uk/site/winchester-greeters