The overall focus will be to reattract visitors, supporting an increase in footfall, engagement and resilience across key visitor economy destinations and experiences – particularly during off-peak seasons, through stimulating domestic and overseas tourism, but also encouraging local Oxfordshire residents to return in numbers to our towns, city, and many attractions and venues.
Campaigns will run through to March 2024, beginning in Autumn and Winter 2022 with a focus on food and drink, local producers, artisan crafts and Christmas offerings.
Spring 2023 will focus on sustainable ‘life in the slow lane’, enjoyment of the arts and culture offer, whilst Summer 2023 will promote Hidden Gems and local secrets.
Autumn and Winter 2023 campaigns will look to inspire our four-legged friends and launch a new Oxfordshire welcome initiative, whilst promoting the run-up to Christmas. The final campaign for early 2024 will focus on quirky and ‘out of the ordinary’ ideas to stimulate overnight visitors and spend.
The marketing campaigns are a key part of the Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme – which is being supported through funding secured by OxLEP via the government’s ‘Contain Outbreak Management Fund’ – and aims to back the sector’s ongoing re-emergence from Covid-19 through a variety of positive interventions.
As a sector that generated around £2.5billion each year to the Oxfordshire economy pre-pandemic – which was around 10 per cent of the county’s overall GVA at that time – the Visitor Economy Renaissance programme aims to ensure the county can both retain and build its visitor economy market share.
The programme also aims to help Oxfordshire businesses in the sector remain competitive, embrace innovation and be resilient to issues that may have occurred due to the pandemic and potential effects brought about by Brexit, with the forthcoming Visitor Economy Grant scheme going live next month.
Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive of OxLEP – said: “The new Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme aims to attract visitors to the county, helping to ensure that Oxfordshire maintains our position as one of the most-desirable destinations for local, national and international visitors.
“We would very much encourage businesses operating within the visitor economy and related sectors to find out more about the wider programme and supporting Visitor Economy Grant Scheme, run by OxLEP Business and set to open for applications next month.
“Having previously secured millions of pounds-worth of investment for visitor economy-related projects in Oxfordshire, this new scheme reflects our ongoing commitment to the sector, and we are looking forward to working closely with Experience Oxfordshire and Cotswolds Tourism to showcase all that our fine county has to offer.”
Hayley Beer-Gamage – Chief Executive of Experience Oxfordshire – said: “Experience Oxfordshire is delighted to have been commissioned by OxLEP to deliver marketing services on behalf of the county.
“As the businesses involved in our visitor economy continue to view the future with uncertainty, it is essential that we maintain a steady stream of communication with potential visitors to help aid visitor economy recovery across the county.
“The Experience Oxfordshire team will draw on their extensive experience to deliver a series of uplifting activity designed to inspire exploration of Oxfordshire by new and returning visitors, focusing on visits that provide the best balance of sustainability and productivity through encouraging longer stays throughout the year.”
Chris Jackson – Shared Tourism Services Manager of Cotswolds Tourism – said: “Cotswolds Tourism is delighted to have been awarded this funding which will benefit the visitor economy through six marketing campaigns over the next two years.
“Work has already started on approaching businesses across Oxfordshire and those now in project are both enthusiastic and excited about the potential impact it will have on their business.”
By supporting this sector and an industry that leveraged around 40,000 jobs prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, the programme also hopes to indirectly help inspire many young people to explore career openings across sectors such as those in: retail, tourism, leisure, arts, culture and heritage.
Away from this new programme, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, OxLEP Business has introduced a number of effective programmes and funds, created to provide much-needed support and financial backing to the Oxfordshire business community. This includes its Business Investment Fund and the Cherwell Business Adaptation Fund, launched earlier this spring.