‘Let’s go from unknown to new tourist hotspot’ - MP calls for better promotion

LEAMINGTON and Warwick need to promote themselves more as tourist destinations if they are to stop being “a bit of an unknown”.

This is the view of Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White, who gave his views at a meeting of Leamington Chamber of Trade last week.

And a leader of the county’s tourist industry said Warwick District Council’s overdue tourism strategy needs to be in place in time for the London Olympics next year.

In a question and answer session, Carrick travel founder Sally Carrick, who is also part of public and private sector tourism partnership Shakespeare Country, asked how high tourism was on the MP’s list of priorities.

She said a new strategy for Warwick district had been due in July was now expected at the end of October and she had not seen shops and accomodation prioritised.

The MP told the meeting how he had once got off a train in Leamington only to see a poster saying ‘come to Solihull’, adding that competition from Banbury and Solihull was also getting strong.

He added he felt tourism was one way of creating a more balanced economy.

Mr White said: “The headline problem is not just about doing what we do, it’s about promoting ourselves nationally and internationally.

People have to have a reason for coming here. We need to tell people how easy it is to get here.

“We have some nationally and internationally recognised sightseeing. We are a bit of a jewel in the crown. We are also a bit of an unknown.”

Reacting to a suggestion from Mrs Carrick that the ‘linger time’ in Stratford is only three hours and 20 minutes, he said the area needed to offer both daytime, evening and morning attractions and be “easy, cheap and good”.

He also praised a new approach by Warwick Castle to encourage people to visit the town as well as its own attractions.

He added: “We have to make sure the experience is good for tourists. If you’re coming here you want to see the spa town elegant Leamington and historic Warwick.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Carrick said she would like a strategy in place in time for next year’s Olympics in London, after a “gap” in marketing Leamington.

Both Warwick District Council and Stratford District Council withdrew funding for Shakespeare Country after an earlier incarnation of the group went into voluntary liquidation in 2010.