Agenda item

Oxfordshire's Visitor Economy

For note: To consider a report concerning Oxfordshire’s Visitor Economy. The report provides an update on progress of the £1.64 million Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme and also highlights potential destination management changes in relation to Government’s response to the independent review of destination management organisations (DMOs) in England.


The Partnership considered a report that provided information on, and progress related to the Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme, (VERP) managed by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, (OxLEP) and also an update on the future landscape of Oxfordshire’s Visitor Economy reflecting national changes as a response to the independent review of destination management organisations (DMOs) in England and the proposal to create Local Visitor

Economy Partnerships (LVEPs). The report was presented by Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP.


The Partnership’s attention was drawn to:


·           Para 12. As part of the VERP workstream, 78 applications under the Visitor Economy Grant scheme amounting to a total of £1.4m had been submitted and the scheme oversubscribed. A total of £660,621 had been allocated across a wide range of visitor related business organisations.  Every effort would be made to repurpose any grant underspend later in the year.

·           A key element of the grant scheme had been to provide visitor business with assistance in transitioning to E-Commerce and digital skills.

·           A five year Destination Management Plan, (DMP) had been commissioned as a whole Oxfordshire system piece and would include consideration of issues around management of place in the context of tourism including journeys. In response to the Scrutiny Panel’s recommendations relating to the impact of tourism and importance of green tourist travel it was stressed that the document would include how tourism was managed and curated as well as promoted and marketed.

·           Oxfordshire interacted with three Destination Management Organisations, (DMO) and to date two had submitted formal expressions of interest to become LVEPS under the appropriate process. Letters of support would be provided from the Oxfordshire system to both applications.


Giles Hughes, Chief Executive of West Oxfordshire District Council emphasised the importance of the quality of the county’s built and natural environments in driving the attractiveness of its tourist destinations. It was important to preserve and enhance these, with the work to produce a DMP a key part of this.


In discussion, Councillor Bethia Thomas echoed the comments of the Scrutiny Panel regarding the importance of sustainability and the green environment in the tourist economy and the Chair referred to the significant contribution of the visitor economy and how central it was to Oxfordshire’s overall economy. It was therefore important to enhance and protect it.


Councillor Andy Graham suggested that a factor which should be considered in the future was the value placed within the region on the value of cultural heritage and the link between that cultural heritage and quality of life. To protect quality of life it was necessary to protect cultural heritage by finding new ways to encourage it and it was important to not become complacent as consumer fashions and habits changed within the tourism market.


RESOLVED: That the Future Oxfordshire Partnership


1.     notes the emerging changes to the Destination Management Organisation landscape including the potential for two Local Visitor Economy Partnerships being formed.


2.     notes the forthcoming Local Visitor Economy Partnerships Vision and Destination Management Plan for Oxfordshire as a shared statement of intent to manage Oxfordshire as a destination over the next 5 years.


3.     notes the significant impact of the Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme
which is being delivered by OxLEP on behalf of the ‘whole system’.

Supporting documents: