Image Credit: William Warby
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Yesterday, we attended the Visit Essex annual conference for an early insight into the Radical Essex cultural programme. This will celebrate the county’s unique contribution to the modernist movement, as well as the uniquely Essex approaches to life, such as the Peculiar People.
It will soon be launched as a new way of attracting visitors to Essex, with our research helping to shape the programme.
We heard three main messages.
First, culture has become a key focus for the development of local tourism, as a way for areas to differentiate themselves from others. We also found this in our evaluation of ERDF investment in Culture and Tourism for the European Commission.
Second, the challenge is to create a fuller experience for the visitors, where every type of customer can enjoy a tailored offer, according to his or her expectations and needs. Dedicated PR and marketing campaigns for these audiences are an important way to bring organisations together under a shared banner.
This was highlighted by Joe Hill, Director of the Focal Point Gallery, when speaking about the potential for Radical Essex. Up to three-quarters of tourists choose to engage with local culture because it provides a genuine and immersive experience. This is seen as a key driver for local businesses to engage with cultural institutions, helping to shape a unique offer which keep people and their spending in the area.
So third, this local collaboration is vital to share the benefits and build an attractive offer for new and returning tourists. Organisations need to share a passion - and their resources - to create a unique cultural offer.
Our research for the Essex Cultural Destinations project will help shape the repositioning culture as a major part of the county’s visitor economy.
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By BOP Consulting
Jonathan is an economist with over a decade’s experience in impact assessment and evaluation, and high-level policy experience, particularly within the cultural and creative sectors.
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