Following the latest government announcement and the continued impacts on the visitor economy sector over this pandemic, it is timely that Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils and representative organisations for the county’s visitor economy will be launching a new annual business support survey - specifically targeted to understand the needs of our Visitor Economy.  

The survey calls for all those working across the tourism and hospitality sector to make their views heard by Wednesday 27 January.

The latest national lockdown means that once again the visitor economy will have to shut its doors. The survey aims to help plan ahead for reopening and recovery as well as understand industry specific need. From Hotels and major attractions to self-catering accommodation, experience providers, hospitality businesses and also the vital supply chains that support the sector from laundry companies, food and drink suppliers to transport are all invited to take part.

The results of the survey will provide a clear picture of the state of the sector in the local area and inform Phase 2 of the Visitor Economy Recovery Plan and will help to inform the future delivery of business support and marketing activity to achieve a safe, steady and sustainable pathway to Telford and Shropshire’s regrowth.

Telford & Wrekin Council and Shropshire Council are getting behind the survey and encouraging wider distribution to all businesses, to encourage maximum participation.  The survey which only takes 10 minutes to complete can be accessed here.

The results of the survey will provide a clear picture to shape and influence business support activity, policy, marketing and development at local council, LEP and regional and national tourism board level. The results will be available for release as soon as possible and will make recommendations to the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.

Gill Hamer, Chief Executive for the Marches LEP, said: “The impact of Covid19 has been destructive to the visitor economy with hospitality, accommodation and arts and culture experiencing a year of challenge and survival. The survey aims to understand how Covid has impacted businesses who make up and contribute to the visitor economy and further understand what specific challenges they face now and what actions are needed to help recovery.”

With time critical information disseminated by central and local government and Visit Britain, the collaboration between both councils, Discover Shropshire and Telford, Visit Shropshire and tourism partnership organisations such the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has been crucial to help steady and support the visitor economy.

Nick Ralls, CEO of Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and Regional Tourism representative for the county explained, “The tourism sector is one of top 5 sectors for economic prosperity and growth in Shropshire, attracting over 13 million visitors and generating circa £800 million per year for the local economy.

“The county is home to major flagship destinations, including Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, Ludlow Castle and our historic county towns. Providing the right support to help businesses survive and regrow from the pandemic is absolutely essential in securing the future of Telford and Shropshire’s Visitor Economy.”

Commentating on the need to further business support, leaders from both Councils emphasised the need for teamwork to aid the recovery and regrowth of the sector.

Councillor Carolyn Healy, Cabinet Member for Visitor Economy, Historic & Natural Environment and Climate Change at Telford & Wrekin Council, said: “Working with Visit Britain and the West Midlands Tourism Board, our Destination Management Organisation Discover Shropshire and Telford are keeping a finger on the pulse to highlight opportunities and make sure our Visitor Economy is best placed to recover.

“It’s essential when it comes to lobbying for further assistance, planning and delivering further business support for the sector for us to work together.  When it comes to business support this is something both councils and our partners all want to see delivered and we will be working hard to prepare the county for a speedy and successful reopening and a more successful 2021.”

Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council Cabinet member responsible for culture, said:

“2020 has been a hugely challenging year for all of us, including Shropshire’s visitor economy. Working in partnership with partner authorities, tourism sector bodies like Visit Britain, Visit Shropshire and the West Midlands Tourism Board is essential for ensuring the county’s visitor economy is in the best position to recover.

“We all want Shropshire businesses to recover and thrive so all partners will work hard to deliver the needed support so the county can bounce back in 2021.”