Hugh steals the show at tourism conference

Press Release: 04/07/2013

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Cllr Rob Humby

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall took to the stage to talk about his plans to develop a River Cottage Canteen in Winchester’s Abbey Mill and answer questions from some of the 100 local businesses that attended Winchester City Council’s Tourism Conference on Wednesday (3 July).

When asked why he had chosen Winchester, Hugh explained that he knew the area from his childhood when his family visited a great aunt who farmed in the Hampshire village of Dummer. He added that today Winchester had the best Farmers’ Market in country which made it an ideal location for a restaurant showcasing local produce. He spent some time talking about the importance of the history of the city and choosing Abbey Mill itself saying that Winchester had “the right place, the right building and the right community.”

Touching on the controversy surrounding the planning application for change-of-use from office building to restaurant, Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall said that River Cottage was very keen to work with the community and that he understood residents would have reservations about the development on their doorstep. He said that work had begun already within the organisation to address the concerns. The River Cottage team aims to have a close working relationship with tourism businesses and in Winchester and the surrounding area.

James Berresford, Chief Executive of Visit England, also addressed the conference. In his speech he touched on the importance of continuing to focus on the unique aspects of Winchester as a destination. Mr Berresford has invited tourism chiefs to London to hear more about the partnership-working that has developed over the last two years to deliver a tourism-related business turnover of over £292m.

Tourism businesses heard about the behind-the-scenes developments for the Visit Winchester brand from Ellen Simpson the Council’s Head of Tourism and were asked to think about possible future campaigns.

Chairing the event, Cllr Rob Humby, Winchester Council’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, said:

Our destination management partnership - Visit Winchester and the Heart of Hampshire - is two years old and relies heavily on the private sector, at its core. Their creative input fuels the marketing and PR campaigns that keep us in the media; their active participation in our year-round network meetings ensures that we are constantly planning our next steps; their support for our publications and websites transforms an attractive destination into an irresistible one.