County tourism site pledges fun – 'whatever the weather'
The new partnership formed to drive up visitor numbers to Devon has launched a new tourism website to promote the county, while VisitCornwall has upgraded its site with a "unique" search facility.
The new VisitDevon website includes a photo gallery of iconic landmarks and beauty spots, endorsed with a quote from film director Stephen Spielberg, who said, while on location during 2011: "I have never before been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I have experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor."
The new VisitDevon website is based around broad tourism themes such as events, festivals, and dog-friendly holidays to convey in a more general sense what Devon has to offer.
Its £5,000 cost has been funded by the Devon Tourism Partnership, which officially launched in April as the new umbrella body for tourism across the county. It was developed on its behalf by the Exeter-based AB Design Group.
Chaired by Laura Holt of North Devon Plus, the DTP came together after Destination Devon – the not-for-profit private company established in 2008 to run VisitDevon and market the county's tourism sector on behalf of key stakeholders – closed early this year, due to its revenue sources drying up.
The company's primary funding had come from Devon County Council, which reduced the subsidy it contributed to VisitDevon from £150,000 in 2010 to just £15,000 for 2012.
Other revenue sources, such as website-based advertising had also dried up, while paid membership among tourism businesses dropped off. Under its new format,
VisitDevon membership is now open to all businesses who are a member of any of the partner organisations.
In April, the six area tourism bodies represented by VisitDevon came together to form the Devon Tourism Partnership and take the organisation forward on its shoestring budget.
Each has pledged to contribute around £6,000 a year to VisitDevon, as support its administration with their own existing resources.
Its membership comprises the Devon Association of Tourist Attractions, Dartmoor Partnership, English Riviera Tourism Company, Exeter and the Heart of Devon, North Devon Plus, Visit Plymouth and Visit South Devon.
The new website links through to each member organisation's respective website, when browsers search for more specific information.
Laura Holt said: "The campaign for this year comes under the banner of 'something to do every day, whatever the weather," with a focus on events and festivals."
She said that under VisitDevon's previous structure, there had been some "conflict" about its structure, which did not address the competition for tourists that existed between its member organisations adding: "We're now working smarter together and doing more for less, rather than competing.
"We'll be able to see what every online activity is achieving for our members and watch every penny – if something works, we'll do it again.
"We are already actively working on the next series of campaigns to launch in January and February 2013."
Meanwhile, VisitCornwall's new-look website launched this week and pictured in the inset, features a ground breaking 'customise your visit' tool – which it says is the first of its kind on a UK holiday destination website.