THE city’s tourism industry is gearing up for a bumper summer after Plymouth was named as one of the top 10 destinations in the country.
Hoteliers, restaurateurs and traders welcomed the city’s inclusion in Which? Holiday’s list of recommended destinations, as tourism chiefs revealed that the industry was worth more than £300million to Plymouth.
Top chef Chris Tanner said: “It’s fantastic news for Plymouth”, and it was about time the city had some recognition. “This is a great part of the world,” he said.
Andrew Huckerby, director of the Kitley House Hotel, who is preparing to launch the Visit Plymouth partnership to promote the city as a destination, said: “I’m delighted that Plymouth is being recognised for the destination that it’s becoming.
“This is a real boost for Plymouth, and for Devon and Cornwall as well.”
Mr Huckerby said visitors to the city spent more than £300million a year during their stay, and he would be announcing a more precise figure at the Visit Plymouth launch event tomorrow.
Richard Smith, Plymouth Gin’s brand home director and economy and tourism chief at the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, added: “This only confirms what some of us have been saying for some time: that Plymouth has a huge amount to offer visitors. It also confirms that Plymouth is ideal for short breaks, and we’re exactly right as a gateway for places around us.”
He added: “Which? is a hugely respected name and I think this can only do us good – not before time. What the city has to realise is that we have got a lot to offer, and we need to market it.”
Mike Jones, general manager at Drake Circus, said: “It’s no surprise to us that Plymouth has been identified as a great holiday destination in this survey. Since we have opened we have seen growing numbers of tourists visiting Drake Circus as part of their holiday, and we’re a destination for coach holidays, especially from South Wales.
“Retail-wise, Plymouth has a lot to offer across the spectrum, and visitors to the city enjoy this.”
Which? Holiday is predicting that 2009 could be a bumper year for British tourism, with people choosing to holiday close to home due to the recession and the low value of the pound against the euro.
As a result, the magazine published a list of ‘Ten of the places we love to visit across this great land.’
The list, which did not rank the destinations against each other, placed Plymouth alongside traditional holiday hotspots such as the Cotswolds and Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District. The feature said Plymouth ‘is completely undervalued as a tourist destination, despite having so much on offer.’
“With Dartmoor only 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre, and the beaches of South Devon or Cornwall only a few minutes away, Plymouth is the perfect destination for anyone wanting to combine a city break with an escape to the country,” it said.
Louise McShane, owner of the Avalon guest house on the Hoe and secretary of the Plymouth Hospitality Association, said the top 10 position was ‘jolly good news. It’s about time Plymouth was put on the map’, she said.
Mrs McShane said the tourist season was looking promising, with a good level of bookings including European tourists choosing to holiday in Britain, perhaps because of the weak pound.
However, there are also reports that visitors from the USA and the Far East will be staying away from Britain due to the recession.
David Draffan, of the Plymouth Summer Festival team, said: “For such a respected organisation as Which? to highlight Plymouth in its top 10 is a huge boost for the city.
“Now the secret is out nationally I hope families who are sitting down to plan their summer holidays will listen to what the experts at Which? are saying and make Plymouth and the Plymouth Summer Festival their choice for 2009.”
Plymouth Summer Festival was set up two years ago to bring together the huge range of events which take place in the city during the summer and to allow Plymouth to market itself.
This year’s line-up can be found at www.plymouthsummerfestival.com