The visitor economy of Cheshire East can rise from £653m a year to £818m by 2015 if an action plan published by the council fulfils its potential.
The 24-page paper published this year by Cheshire East Council sets out a plan for generating further wealth in the sector. Among its plans, the council pledges to support the development of key projects, make it easier for visitors to book their trips and put on more and bigger events throughout the year which celebrate the distinct character of the borough.
The business plan also aims to increase the number of businesses achieving quality accreditation and boost the tourism workforce by 1,271 jobs over the period.
Cheshire East saw nearly 17 million visits during 2008. Tatton Park is the most visited attraction, delivering an annual net output to the local economy of at least £8.8m. The area's visitor economy employs over 10,000 people, with accommodation, food and drink and shopping employing the highest numbers. Day visitors account for 84% of tourism visits, serviced accommodation 7%, while staying visitors visiting friends and relatives accounts for almost 8%. Staying visits generate an average of £36 per head, while day visits account for £23 perhead.
A new discovery centre is close to opening at the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank. The project is intended as the first phase of a larger 'planet pavilion' development including new café, exhibition/events space a 'galaxy maze' and extension of the arboretum.
Tatton Park is investigating the potential of growing the family market with a new attraction that would help to boost visitor numbers from 800,000 to 1m.
Extracts from the report
Research undertaken at the end of 2008 indicated that many consumers had an understanding of Cheshire's Peak District, indicating that the 'offer' had many of the Peak District's attributes but with more historic houses nearby, gentle countryside, many gardens to visit and opportunity to visit industrial heritage sites as well.
This provides a focus that includes promotion in the sub-regional 'Visit Chester and Cheshire' visitor guide, bespoke post-arrival print, and web-based promotion through www.cheshirepeakdistrict.com. In addition, www.Discovercheshirepeakdistrict.com and www.Discoverthegritstonetrail.com will promote the area's outdoor activities and links to its other attractions through map-based itinerary building tools. This provides Cheshire's only other geographic brand other than Chester giving a focus to developing business through association with the brand.
Gardens of Distinction
Cheshire's Gardens of distinction is a continuation programme from 'Cheshire's Year of Gardens'08'. It includes a number of programmes to market the gardens offer across Cheshire, promote and develop the RHS Show Tatton Park and assist with business development. Around 25 gardens are included with many of them being in Cheshire East, including seven of the top ten featured gardens. Cheshire East's gardens, many of them associated with Historic Houses and attractions are therefore an important resource for the visitor economy. Analysis of the Year of Gardens campaign indicated a net visitor increase equivalent 277,400 visitors and a net economic impact of £12.2m.
Events held within Cheshire East help animate places and give reasons for return visits, so increasing the value of the visitor economy as well as benefiting communities. These events range from nationally strategic events including the RHS Show, Tatton Park Biennial and the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power through to smaller community events that help to reinforce the character of a particular area. Other events help to support tourism brands such as the Bollington Walking Festival and 'Cheshire's Peak District' the many Bluebell Walks and 'Gardens of Distinction' or food festivals and 'Taste Cheshire'.
East Cheshire is home to 12 of the sub-region's 18 market towns. From Alderley Edge in the north to Audlem in the south, market towns are one of the things that give East Cheshire its special character. Some, such as Nantwich or Knutsford, are already of significant established value to the visitor economy while others have potential to do so. Promotion of these towns is through www.cheshiremarkettowns.co.uk where visitors can access a host of information that will inform there decision making of what to do and where to go. i-visitorguides such as www.visitnantwich.co.uk will not only promote the towns themselves, but the attractions of the surrounding area, thus benefiting jobs and prosperity for the community.
- Download the full report from the council's website here