The Chair of the British Tourist Authority has enjoyed a whistle-stop tour of Peak District & Derbyshire to celebrate the reopening of local tourism and hospitality businesses.
Lord Patrick McLoughlin CH visited some of the county’s top visitor attractions and destinations during a day trip to discuss how businesses are working hard to welcome visitors back safely, and to discuss the ongoing challenges facing the sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Organised by Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire, the area’s official destination management organisation, the trip enabled Lord McLoughlin – who was MP for Derbyshire Dales between 1986 and 2019 – to see first-hand how the industry is preparing to recover and rebuild following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Highlighting the Peak District & Derbyshire’s appeal as a year-round, all weather destination, the day began with a visit to the newly-opened Great British Car Journey at Ambergate. Lord McLoughlin toured the state-of-the-art exhibition – which celebrates 100 years of British motoring history – before sampling the Peak District region’s first whisky, recently launched by the nearby White Peak Distillery.
Lord McLoughlin then visited Chatsworth, where he was welcomed by the Duke of Devonshire for a tour of the magnificent Grade I listed House, before enjoying a networking lunch with local tourism businesses and representatives.
The trip also included visits to the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop and Thornbridge Brewery, where business owners highlighted the ongoing difficulties and unique set of challenges facing the tourism and hospitality industry as businesses continue to adapt to new restrictions.
The final stop of the day was Buxton where Lord McLoughlin toured the town’s iconic Opera House, which recently reopened following 16 months of closure, and the Ensana Buxton Crescent Hotel & Thermal Spa, the destination’s first 5-star hotel which opened in October 2020 following a £70 million renovation.
The visit follows the launch of Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire’s £70,000 Escape the Everyday marketing campaign, supported by funding from VisitEngland, to boost the recovery of local tourism and hospitality businesses.
British Tourist Authority Chairman Lord Patrick McLoughlin said:“I’m so pleased to be in Derbyshire today as English Tourism Week draws to a close. The week has been dedicated to showing support for tourism businesses and destinations across the sector as they reopen and start to rebuild. Local businesses have been working so hard to welcome visitors back safely, adapting and innovating to meet new ways of working and still providing a great visitor experience.
“And it is great to see the activity that Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire will be delivering locally, with support from VisitEngland funding and aligning with our national ‘Escape the Everyday’ campaign, to encourage more people to get out and discover the outstanding destinations and quality attractions here on our doorstep and to drive bookings.
“Millions of jobs and local economies depend on tourism right across the country and the industry needs all of us to make sure it gets back on its feet.”
Jo Dilley, Managing Director of Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire, said: “It’s great to welcome Lord McLoughlin to the area to recognise the efforts made by local businesses to reopen safely, and to also see up close some of the exciting new additions to our tourism offer.
“Over 32,000 local jobs depend on tourism and I am confident that we left him in no doubt that, despite ongoing challenges, the businesses that make up the Peak District & Derbyshire’s visitor economy are resilient, passionate and fully focussed on the future and their role in successfully supporting the county’s economic recovery.
“More than 900 local businesses have now signed up to the We’re Good To Go industry standard, demonstrating they have all the right safety measures in place, and the continued success of the vaccination programme is going to be vital in helping us get the sector back on its feet.
“However, it will take at least two years for tourism to recover back to its pre-pandemic value, so it’s never been more important for us all to support our local businesses and visitor attractions – and the industry is looking forward to welcoming you back.”
Councillor Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: “Tourism is a vital part of the Derbyshire economy which is worth around £2.5bn a year to the county, supports 32,000 jobs, attracts 41 million day visitors and more than 4.3 million staying visitors.
“As we move further along the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, we’re looking forward to welcoming more visitors back and are working hard with our partners to help rebuild our visitor economy following the pandemic.
“With uncertainty about foreign travel, more and more people are looking at staying in the UK for their holidays and Derbyshire is a perfect destination for short or longer stays.
“From stunning, specially protected landscapes, exciting outdoor activities and brilliant attractions to rich history and heritage, quality accommodation and fine, locally produced food and drink, Derbyshire has everything. There are lots of new places to explore too and this year we’re especially encouraging people to come to Derbyshire to discover many of our hidden gems that are off the main tourist trails.
“Whether people are looking for a local day out or wanting to stay longer, Derbyshire is a fantastic and fun place to visit and we’re pleased that Lord McLoughlin, in his role as chair of VisitBritain, has taken the opportunity to visit Derbyshire to discuss the challenges businesses have faced during the pandemic and get first-hand experience of how they have adapted to reopen safely.”