Tourism businesses come up trumps – despite the snow

Press Release: 25/01/2013

Visit Winchester poster

The Visit Winchester and the Heart of Hampshire Destination Management Partnership welcomed more than 180 people from all over the UK last weekend as the Group Tour Organisers Association (GTOA) picked the destination as the location for its annual conference.

Despite the snow, the delegates arrived at the Norton Park Hotel, host venue for the conference, on Friday 18 January and were able to undertake six familiarisation trips that showcased all that the area has to offer visitors.

The 30 attractions that opened their doors included Marwell Wildlife, Winchester Cathedral, Bishop’s Waltham Palace, Intech Family Science Centre & Planetarium, Winchester Military Museums and Royal Armouries Fort Nelson. The guests also visited The Chesil Rectory, Holiday Inn Winchester and the Mercure Wessex Hotel. The group tour organisers use the familiarisation trips as a foundation for building itineraries for future visits by their own groups.

Dennis Chantry, Chair of the GTOA, said

We were very impressed by the way the tourism businesses worked with the Winchester City Council’s Destination Management Partnership to ensure that these complex itineraries went ahead despite the snowy weather. The weekend was a great success, with memorable entertainment from the Winchester Cathedral Choristers. Having seen that there was so much on offer we are considering a repeat visit with other members of the organisation later in the year.

Cllr Robert Humby, Deputy Leader of Winchester City Council and Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning, Economic Development and Tourism, said

The Destination Management Partnership seeks to make measurable impacts on the local economy and we look forward to seeing the returns on this event over the next two or three years. Fifty-five member businesses have worked closely for over a year to make this landmark event happen, and I am delighted that their efforts have been so well appreciated. It is partnership working of this kind that has contributed to 11 per cent growth in tourism revenue over the past three years.

The GTOA delegates were keen to say ‘thank you’ to Winchester, and presented Cllr Humby with a cheque for £1,500 for the Mayor’s Charities at the end of the event. They were also inspired to collect a generous donation to Winchester Cathedral’s Choral Foundation following a moving performance by the Girl Choristers, all of whom had travelled through the snow to reach the hotel late on the Saturday evening.

The specially created itineraries that encompass themes such as big views, military Winchester, the origin of ‘Englishness’ and the essential city experience will be adapted for both trade travel and independent visitors and published on the Visit Winchester website in due course.