'Don't confuse Fawlty-style Grosvenor Hotel antics with reality', says Torquay tourism chief
THE 'comic appeal' of The Hotel series, designed to 'shock and entertain', should not be confused with reality, says Torbay's tourism chief.
More than 2.5 million viewers have watched the antics of Mark Jenkins and his staff at the Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay, making it Channel 4's third most popular programme.
The series has brought lots of positive publicity for the Bay, says English Riviera Tourist chief executive Carolyn Custerson.
But she insists the Basil Fawlty-style exploits portrayed in the series are a far cry from the reality of most hotels in the Bay.
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And she claims the series is not portraying the resort 'accurately or fairly'.
Mrs Custerston said: "Hopefully, most people realise The Hotel is a docu-comedy and represents a rather extreme interpretation of one very unusual and eccentric hotelier.
"However, there is no doubt the power of television can make the scenarios depicted in The Hotel deliver a very distorted impression of the English Riviera as a whole in the minds of millions of viewers.
"To help counter this the ERTC worked hard to share with Channel 4 as much positive imagery and video footage of the English Riviera as we had available so that outside The Hotel the resort is shown in all its glory.
"It would be nice to think the balance might be redressed by a beautiful documentary giving a more realistic insight into the average family visitor who comes for quiet enjoyment of our beautiful Bay, myriad attractions, pretty coves and beaches and superb sand castle sand.
"This would have been very helpful for the resort and a more realistic depiction than The Hotel offers, but we must remember it is a docu-comedy designed to entertain and shock which is unfortunate when we are all working very hard to try to Turn the Tide for Tourism in Torbay and to arrest long term decline in what is the Bay's main industry, providing 13,000 local jobs."
Mrs Custerson said there had been much positive media coverage of the resort which continues to attract a large number of national and international journalists and film crews each year, with more than 30 film crews hosted by the ERTC and Torbay Council during last year.
She said: "Families and individuals should also hopefully know the English Riviera is now famous for the quality of its welcome, which has led to numerous TripAdvisor Awards including best resort (Torquay was fourth in the UK in 2012 after three major city centre destinations).
"The press coverage for these awards has been huge and as a result many quality businesses, despite the wettest summer on record last year, continue to perform well," she said.
She also pointed to the volume of Torquay winners at these customer-based awards proving the English Riviera does have serious star quality as a holiday destination.
The English Riviera also swept the board at the recent Visit Devon Awards, winning more categories than any other Devon resort.
Mrs Custerson said: "What we actually have here on the English Riviera is a hugely popular resort for visitors from all over the UK and Europe attracting more than three millions visitors every year and there is overwhelming evidence, and much press coverage, that the warmth and professionalism of our hoteliers has been such a hit with our visitors.
"We all feel locally The Hotel programme is not portraying the resort accurately or fairly.
"Obviously The Hotel has a huge comic appeal, but it would be a great shame if it were confused with the norm.
"This is obviously a danger we must be aware of."
She said the official destination website, www.englishriviera.co.uk, was re-launched by the ERTC 12 months ago after an investment of £50,000 to attract new visitors to the destination and 'hits' are currently 98 per cent up on this time last year.
She says: "That is fantastic growth, so hopefully through the compelling imagery and copy presented on the site, people will see through all the comedy after all and visit the English Riviera in 2013.
"Clearly, there is huge potential for The Hotel to create a negative impression of the English Riviera and we are redoubling our efforts to redress the balance.
"A hit comedy show is almost invariably a caricature of reality and such examples of the worst side of life can be found almost anywhere.
"We are aware the English Riviera brand name has been used throughout the series and this is evidence of the power of our brand marketing.
"It is therefore even more important we continue to attach positive impressions to the name.
"We are investing strongly in PR once again in 2013 with the launch of a new '100' marketing campaign to celebrate the 100th edition of the official destination guide and we are working hard and creatively to ensure that the interest gained by the programme is harnessed and that beautifully presented and inspiring information, images and videos are widely available across a wide range of channels that tells a much more balanced story about the quality of the English Riviera."