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Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin prepare for tourism sector recovery

By Discover Shropshire & Telford, 26 May 2020, 9:10AM

Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin prepare for tourism sector recovery

As VisitEngland encourage Destination Management Organisations to celebrate English Tourism Week (25-31 May), tourism staff at Telford & Wrekin Council and Shropshire Council will be working in collaboration to prioritise the recovery and future promotion of Shropshire’s visitor economy.

The tourism sector is one of top 5 sectors for economic prosperity and growth in Shropshire, attracting over 13 million visitors and generating circa £800 million per year for the local economy. The county is home to major flagship destinations, including Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, Shropshire Hills AONB, Ludlow and Shrewsbury.

Recent months have seen the devastation of the visitor economy across Shropshire with the impact of flooding in February, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism businesses from large scale hotels and attractions, to restaurants and boutique B&B’s have all been affected with substantial losses from the spring and early summer season. 

Now leaders from across the tourism sector in Shropshire have come together to take a coordinated approach to support businesses and the community at this time, by focusing efforts on the sustainable recovery of the visitor economy. In the case of Shropshire Council, a new tourism officer joins the Council on the 1 June to help support recovery effort and work alongside colleagues at Telford & Wrekin Council. 

The new collaboration will work with the private sector to develop a COVID-19 ‘respond and reset’ action plan. The plan aims to support businesses towards recovery by supplying a practical toolkit of guidance, information and support to ensure national standards are met county wide.

The plan will also provide a traffic light approach to support businesses to prepare for the lifting of regulations, to create an environment of reassurance that Shropshire is safe to visit. The programme of activity will be based on the latest Government guidance on easing of restrictions so footfall and social distancing can be safely managed to protect and reassure local residents.

Commentating on the new collaboration, leaders from both Councils emphasised the need for teamwork.

Councillor Carolyn Healy, Cabinet Member for Visitor Economy, Historic & Natural Environment and Climate Change at Telford & Wrekin Council, said: “We are proud to have such a vibrant and valuable visitor economy and this marks an important milestone in the recovery of the sector.

“Now is the time to build on our excellence in destination management and work with our counterparts in Shropshire to have one voice which will develop a clear road map to recovery.”

“Covid-19 reminds us that we are all connected and in this together, and in need of a practical toolkit of business support and information to prepare us to welcome back visitors when we can.” 

Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council Cabinet member responsible for culture, said:

“This collaboration marks a positive step forward in the recovery of the county’s tourism sector. There is still a lot of work to do to give our business community confidence, but ensuring the safety of our local communities and future visitors must be the number one priority to ensure sustainable recovery.

“By collaborating with colleagues in Telford & Wrekin working with Shropshire businesses, we will be able to coordinate one clear journey of recovery and position the tourism sector to flourish once the coronavirus lockdown restrictions of lifted. All of us in Shropshire look forward to welcoming back visitors when we can, but the time is not now.”

This collaboration brings together the two local authorities facilitating destination management, with the expertise of other key partnerships across the region.

The Council’s will also work with a number of tourism associations including Visit Shropshire, Visit Shropshire Hills, Love Bridgnorth, Love Wellington, Shrewsbury BID, Ludlow Destination Partnership, Discover Shropshire and Telford, Shropshire Festivals, Oswestry Borderland Tourism, Oswestry BID and Visit Church Stretton. The motto being ‘Together we are Stronger’. 

Other Destination Marketing Partners are urged to get in touch and join conversations, share knowledge and be a part of the recovery plan. To get involved email discovershropshire&telford@telford.gov.uk