Sherwood & the Dukeries Tourism Group
Notes from meeting held 20-09-05
Members attended the meeting. Apologies were received from: -
Robin & Joan Brown Kate & Ellen Mettam
Dorothy Harrison Angela Moxon
Dennis Hill June Ibbotson
Jennie Searle Pam Stevens
Rachel Stewart Paul Whyman
Sandra Withington attended the meeting as the new Development and Marketing Officer for Bassetlaw D.C. Please contact her on 01909 535500 if you require any assistance with marketing and promotion. Sandra has also offered to take digital photographs for inclusion in brochures, web sites etc.
The Chairman sent a letter from the group, expressing our concern at the proposed closure of the centre. Roger Ranson informed the meeting that the centre would remain open at least until January 2006.
Cllr. Barry Bowles reported that the market had been considered a success. Roger Ranson asked for any feedback from members and reported that a further market is to be held in Worksop from the 2nd –5th November.
An e-mail from Rachel Stewart asked that the following information be passed on to the group: -
E.N. are still on target for printing the guides in December ready for distribution during January 2006.
The accommodation guides will be split geographically and there will be a map and grid references showing where each establishment is located in the county. There will also be an events listing and information further promoting the farm tourism offer in the county.
It is not too late to join Nottinghamshire Tourism and be included in the 2006 guides. Contact rachel.stewart @experiencenottinghamshire.com
Our web site www.robinhoodtourism.co.uk has been very well developed by Chris Daniels and is also being updated weekly with news and current events information.
The site has received 20,000 hits in the first three months and currently occupies No.1 position on many of the search engines. This means that anybody searching “accommodation Nottinghamshire” or anything containing Sherwood, Dukeries etc. is directed to our site first.
The web site now includes a registration document for membership of the group, which can be printed and returned to the Treasurer, John Anderson. Also, there are instructions on how to submit details of your business, for inclusion in the appropriate section of the web site.
The Future of Sherwood.
On September 20th the Chairman was invited to represent the Group at a conference on “The Future of Sherwood” held at Thoresby Park.
Around 90 delegates, drawn from local authorities and interested bodies, attended the conference. The speakers covered a wide range of topics relevant to determining the future of Sherwood. The following is a brief synopsis of issues that were thought to be of direct interest to members of the Group.
The keynote speech was given by Paddy Tipping, M.P. for Sherwood. He talked about the “relaunch” of the Sherwood region, making specific reference to the importance of bio-diversity, the success of pit reclamation and the planned redevelopment of the Visitor Centre. He referred to the objective of obtaining Regional Park status for Sherwood and the development of a dynamic Sherwood Forest. There was no mention of improving employment or developing tourism.
Austin Brady, Conservator for the East Midlands, of the Forestry Commission spoke on the theme of “what do we want from a forest”.
He saw the main issues being - timber, jobs, recreation, environmental quality, modern forestry, communities, landscape and sustainability.
He mentioned the many studies and initiatives that had been carried out, relating to the future of the forest and stated that among the opportunities was the development of a Regional Tourism Strategy.
Dr. Richard Keymer of English Nature gave a talk in which he outlined the way in which the forest had declined in size. He explained that the definition of a forest was “uncultivated land” and that originally Sherwood was largely open heath land rather than densely wooded. The reduction in size was largely due to the fact that there were few “commoners rights” attached to the forest, which meant that the Crown had been able to sell off large areas for farmland. His main concern for the future was the retention of wildlife habitats.
Alison Hepworth. Policy Advisor for the East Midlands Regional Assembly. Talked about the “Integrated Regional Strategy” which covers bio-diversity, landscape, cultural heritage etc. and acknowledged that they “have not touched on tourism strategy”.
Steve Calvert. Assistant Director of Environment, Nottinghamshire County Council. Talked about the objective of achieving Regional Park status. There are only two other Regional Parks, Lee Valley and Colne Valley. A third, Nene Valley has been proposed.
He stated that achievement was not dependent upon a high quality landscape and that recreation would be a key element.
Stephen LeMottee. Customer Services Manager, National Trust.
Spoke very passionately on his concerns about the ability to attract visitors into the area.
He stated that there had been no shortage of strategies, about one per year since 2000 including the Sherwood Study, Destination East Midlands- Integrating Sherwood Forest, Experience Nottinghamshire etc.
His major concern was that there is a perception/reality mismatch in that: -
There is much talk of Sherwood, but not of Robin Hood.
There is much talk of Forest, but there are few trees.
There is much talk of Dukeries, but there are no stately homes to visit.
There is no “drive through” forest, very few quiet lanes, country pubs or landscapes.
We have a very strong brand name and location but there is a shortage of both attractions and accommodation and our information/communication leaves much to be desired.
He mentioned specific successes, with awards being won by Shardaroba Caravan Park and Ollerton Water Mill.
He stated that we were missing opportunities, particularly with poor signage in the region and that the fundamental choice was whether to remain as a day visitor area, attracting only local money, or to develop both the day visitor and tourists.
To develop, as a tourist region would require: -
An action plan, not strategies.
Investment, particularly in landscape improvements.
More Robin Hood
Information/communication improvements, both before and during visits
Visitors should experience a sense of “arrival”.
Nic Broomhead. Head of Country Parks Service, Notts.C.C.
Nic spoke about the enforced closure of the existing Sherwood visitor centre by 2010 as it must be located outside the SAC boundary. The dilemma facing the management team is that of tourism versus conservation. Visitor pressure is destroying the environment, which must be countered by sustainable recreational management.
In 1991 there were 850,000 visitors. Boosted by the release of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.
In 2005 there were 500,000 visitors, which contributed £1 million towards park management. Relocation of the visitor centre will reduce revenue.
Options open include: -
Combining several functions on one site.
Visitor information. Park Management Education and Learning Auditorium
Exhibition Conservation Teams Archaeological Village
Removal of Country Park title and establishment of a Management Partnership drawn from Notts. C.C. The Forestry Commission. Thoresby Estates. Natural England.
The new Visitor Centre could be located east of the B6034 with the road being crossed by a tree top walk. It would need to be of an environmentally sound design and could become the flagship of the Sherwood Forest Campus. It could become the admin. and information hub of the new Regional Park.
Dr. John Heeley. Chief Executive, Experience Nottinghamshire. Attending as a delegate, not a speaker. Responded when a questioner from the floor asked, why Experience Nottinghamshire were not represented amongst the speakers.
He stated that: -
Experience Nottinghamshire “were not performing very well in tourism”.
They now have 200 members of which 40 are corporate.
The holiday village (Center Parcs?) requires a makeover
Sherwood is a fantastic brand.
In the summing up session, the general consensus seemed to be that the region is awash with strategies that are uncoordinated and that there has been insufficient progress arising from those strategies. An advisory group should be formed to lead the development and implementation of a coordinated strategy for the future of Sherwood and be accountable for its delivery.
81% of the delegates were in favour of going for Regional Park status although the definition of the boundaries was considered an issue.
It was agreed that a follow-up conference should be held in 2006 at which those responsible for implementing the strategies should be accountable .
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