South Devon conference gives tourism industry a boost
Getting savvy with social media, building networks and shouting loudly and proudly about South Devon were all on the agenda at Teignbridge’s third Talking Tourism Conference.
Seventy movers, shakers and influencers from the hospitality and tourism sectors took part in Teignbridge District Council’s free summit at Langstone Cliff Hotel, Dawlish Warren, on Thursday 21 November.
The conference, which was free of charge, was arranged by Teignbridge in partnership with Visit South Devon and the Dartmoor Partnership.
Benjamin Mee, owner of Dartmoor Zoo, was the event’s keynote speaker. He spoke poignantly about his life, the zoo’s transformation into a must-see attraction and how, along the way, his life became the subject of Hollywood film ‘We Bought a Zoo’ starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson.
Teignbridge District Council’s leader Cllr Jeremy Christophers opened and closed the event and praised local businesses for putting South Devon on the map all year round.
He said: “This is our third tourism conference and it just keeps getting better and better. It’s been fantastic to see so many talented and creative people in one room, sharing ideas and experiences on how we can all work together to make South Devon an even better place to visit.
“With the public sector facing shrinking budgets, it’s even more important that we work with the private sector partner to be more innovate around how we promote South Devon. Teignbridge District Council has a great reputation for cross-partner working and this conference plays a part in that because it brings people together, creates opportunities to explore new ways of working, serves as a listening event and helps us all understand the challenges ahead.
“Personally I’d like to thank Benjamin Mee and Kate Doodson for giving up their time and coming along to talk to us all. Their presentations were humbling, inspiring and thought-provoking. Equally, my thanks go to all the businesses who came along. It was wonderful to see such support.
“Teignbridge is committed to doing the best for tourism. This event is a great networking opportunity for all and showcases the wealth of we have in our district. Now we just need to think about how we top it next year.”
Jessica Yeoman, marketing manager for Visit South Devon, said: “We really enjoyed this year’s conference. Not only was it a great opportunity to update the industry on what Visit South Devon has been up to throughout 2013 but it was great to see so many tourism business supporting South Devon tourism. We are proud to support such a well organised and well attended conference.”
Chris Murray, owner of Pennywell Farm near Buckfastleigh and a Visit South Devon director, was among the delegates.
He said: “I am absolutely delighted that Teignbridge recognises the significant part tourism plays in making South Devon such a great destination and the importance of working together to attract more visitors to the area.
“For large parts of the year we all work in isolation but the Talking Tourism Conference gives us the chance to get together, learn from each other and building networks at the same time.”
Local businesses are key to Teignbridge’s economic prosperity and the council helps support local business across sectors achieve success. This is done in a number of ways including:
• Easy-in, easy-out vacancies at the Council owned Teignbridge Business Centre
• A regular email newsletter for all businesses in the district
• Quarterly Business Forums and an annual Talking Tourism Conference, plus other networking events
• Key projects carried out by the Economy & Regeneration service