Derbyshire Culture, Heritage Arts
& Tourism Board
“People want a good time, just look at the selfies on social media which all say ‘I’m having a better time than you.’ People don’t want to stay in poor quality accommodation, they want an authentic experience with meaning, in a world where we don’t know what’s true and fake anymore.
James Berresford is Chair of Derbyshire Culture, Heritage Arts and Tourism Board. Chesterfield born and bred, it’s his job to make the most of the visiting tourists that come to Derbyshire each year, to make the best of what we have to offer, “a world class destination offering world class products.
- The UK is number eight in the top ten list of tourist destinations across the world.
- The tourism sector supports 28,000 jobs across Derbyshire.
- Tourists in Derbyshire spend £2.15b PA, a growth of 1.3% over last year – over half spent by day visitors.
“Our aspiration is to get more people to stay in the area” he explains. “People want a good time, just look at the selfies on social media which all say ‘I’m having a better time than you.’ People don’t want to stay in poor quality accommodation, they want an authentic experience with meaning, in a world where we don’t know what’s true and fake anymore.“The demographic is changing, we’re getting older and are no longer prepared to accept a sedentary lifestyle, people are looking for experiences that stimulate and challenge.
“Leisure patterns and the family unit is changing, and people want something different. Technology plays a huge part in life, we’ve seen a 100% growth in bookings online, originating from tablets and mobiles, many never visit a travel agent, how they choose a destination has changed and Trip Advisor can very quickly tell us what a place is really like.
“People are Value Seeking, new habits form and people are always looking for a ‘bit of a deal’. What can I get?
“People take more short breaks, ‘holiday snacking’ as it’s known, the typical two-week summer holiday is being replaced with 7 to 10 days for the main break supported by many weekends and short breaks, and it’s all very last minute, driven by the weather … will it be dry this weekend? Yes, OK pack the bags, let’s go.”
World Class Assets
I found James’s talk uplifting, we already have a number of world class assets in the area; The Peak District National Park, jam packed with hundreds of beautiful destinations, The ‘Crooked’ Spire of St Mary’s & All Saints, Chatsworth House, Casa Hotel, numerous heritage sites. He talked about how these need to link together, how an experience must flow between them, how we need to make access and travel easy, how we need to embrace sustainability and how all businesses that could benefit from the tourist £ need to behave, no matter how large or small.
He finished with a couple of personal experiences. When working in London, each day he would buy a coffee from Pret A Manger where they are always happy and polite. One day he was met with rude staff and left thinking ‘this isn’t on’ so he tweeted about it. Within minutes they’re back to him to find out what’s wrong and by the end of the day he’s been provided with a voucher, his poor experience transformed to a positive. An example of how hospitality and service skills need to be focused.
His last point raised a laugh. One job was marketing Sherwood Forest, he’d heard how taxi drivers can be less than positive about the area so decided to test this out. Posing as a tourist he took a taxi ride asking the driver about the area, the driver was extremely positive, waxing lyrical about the area, even giving the square mile size of the forest. The driver finished stating, ‘the problem, is with the people who promote the area, they’re crap!’
What a wake-up call to the task ahead.
Chief Exec Chesterfield Borough Council
Huw Bowen makes a regular apperance at these events to provide an overview of progress in and around town. He’s passionate about town but is in a difficult position, tasked with delivering all the services we want, with an ever-decreasing budget.
Huw explained that although visitor numbers and the money they spend is increasing, the number of people staying is low and needs a boost. He outlined how important events are for bringing people into the area; youth football, Custom Solar cricket tournament, the Redbrik half marathon, the OVO Women’s Tour of Britain, and the various markets; food, motor and 1940s, all help.
Huw also expressed how impressed he is with the investment being made by Chesterfield’s young people – Bottle & Thyme, The Crafty Dog, Sorbo Lounge, the new businesses along Stephenson’s place, driven by young entrepreneurs. Many of the new businesses were covered in our May edition (see s40local.co.uk/previous-editions/).
Council lead developments will see a significant change to the look and feel of our town. The new Saltergate car park will provide 530 spaces, more than the combined space previously in use at the car park and the Holywell cross site (Donut). The car park will provide wider parking bays, 32 disabled spaces, 15 parent and child spaces and will include automated roller shutters at vehicular entrances and exits, and access control via paper tickets at the pedestrian entrance and 24 hour CCTV coverage.
A new innovation hub will be built on the old site of the Holywell Cross car park, the entire Northern Gateway scheme bringing over 500 new jobs.
The Chesterfield Waterside is still planned to be on site in 2019, changing the skyline with contemporary 11 storey apartment blocks.
The old North East Derbyshire County Council offices on Saltergate have been purchased by McCarthy Stone offering 61 town centre style retirement apartments on the edge of the glorious Peak District.
Out of Town
The HS2 development brings with it plans for a new Staveley link road (£22m of the £50 million required has already been secured). This will feed a new Garden Village of 1500 homes; school and retail planned over the next 15 years before the first trains arrive in 2033.
This is just one part of the plans that will hopefully see 5000 new homes built in various schemes delivered by 2033.
The Old Co operative building
Adam is involved with the redevelopment of the Cooperative on Elder Way, and the first phase will see the 92 bed Premier Inn on floors one and two with a new main entrance on the corner of Elder Way and Saltergate opening in early 2019.
Phase 2 will redevelop the ground floor with seven self contained restaurants and bars around a central courtyard, changes to the public space outside along Elder Way, with wider pavements, a single carriageway road, a more pedestrian friendly area lined with trees and more suited to outdoor seating for the restaurants and bars.
For more on any of these projects please visit chesterfield.co.uk/developments