Background

Based on the Dorset Culture and Tourism Action Plan Report, there is a need to promote Dorset through its creative industries or cultural heritage. We found that there is

  • lack of understanding as to how cultural ‘packages’ can extend visitors’ stay throughout the year, particularly  as wet weather option.  etc
    each sectors way of working
  • not many discussions and joined up thinking in approaching tourism in Dorset
  • also a lack of understanding the concept of creating a full visitor experience

Objectives

  • Explore how well tourism organisations can work with cultural organisations for the benefit of both and promote a town as a visitor destination.
  • Develop key town opinion leaders understanding of visitor experience
  • Encourage discussion between tourism organisations and businesses with cultural organisations

How did we do it?

We chose to pilot this activity at Sherborne, a Dorset historic market town boasting its unique abbey and two castles, with a direct train link to London and Exeter. Dorset is more well known for its beaches and Jurassic coastline, we wanted to trial our activity in a town that is located in land and have a substantial cultural offering.

Key town opinion leaders both in the cultural sector and tourism sector were invited to a meeting. We discussed the project intention and understand their needs. They agreed that they needed facilitating to start the collaboration. To share knowledge, link to travel industry and facilitate the sessions we commissioned a responsible travel industry consultancy RHP ltd.

What were the challenges?

  • Bringing the right people together who never worked together before
  • Changing perception of  being competitors to being collaborators
  • Communicating that visitor experience is not only when they are in the town/place but it is before and after

What we learnt through this

  • having the buy-in from an influential person helps with getting people together
  • providing people with inspiration and discussion from outside the region is beneficial and appreciated
  • we would highly recommend the process to other towns/places, if you can’t afford a facilitator here is a toolkit you can use.

Outcomes

  • Brought people together who have not worked together before
  • The group built a website 
  • It helped with the success of Dorset Moon signature events, because of their collaboration and understanding the festival events had more visitors than the traditionally more famous for its tourism – Bournemouth. Read more about Dorset Moon here

This Activity Report is a part of Culture+ Project Report