Tourism Management Review Group Report - Update
- Meeting of Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday 8 September 2021 6.00 pm (Item 45.)
- View the background to item 45.
To consider an update on progress against the recommendations and agreed actions from the Tourism Management Review Group. Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Tourism; Matt Peachey, Economic Development Manager; and Iain Nicholson, City Centre Manager, have been invited to attend for this item. The Committee is invited to note and comment on the update.
Cllr Gant addressed the Committee in his capacity as the Chair of the Tourism Management Review Group. The review had been a good piece of work with which he was proud to have been involved. Covid-19 had, inevitably, had a profound impact on tourism, as recognised by the update report. He had been disappointed by some of the original Cabinet responses to the report’s recommendations. This was a matter which warranted more active engagement and the update provided an opportunity to ask that Cabinet revisit the report and recommendations and he urged the Committee to make a recommendation to that effect.
Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Tourism, introduced the report. Inevitably much of the work in this area had come to a halt as result of Covid-19. The Council had continued to work with Experience Oxfordshire and provided £50,000 to help support the visitor economy until March 2023. It was unlikely that the Council would be in a position to provide further funding to Experience Oxfordshire which was, now, moving towards operating on a more commercial basis. The emerging Oxford Economic Strategy and City Centre Action Plan would include recovering and rebuilding the visitor economy as a priority. Visitor numbers had plummeted as a result of the pandemic and were currently estimated to be just 15% of the number in 2019 and were anticipated to reach 50% of the number in 2022. Work on identifying alternative arrangements for the delivery of visitors by coach was continuing with the County Council, with a site near the Westgate being considered as an additional drop off location to help ease pressure on St Giles. It wouldn’t, however, be meaningful to conduct a consultation (for which funding was available) on options given the atypically low number of coach arrivals at the present time. Officers were working to find a suitable premises for a visitor centre in the hope of finding someone willing to run it on a private and commercial basis. A fundamental challenge was to persuade visitors to spend more time and money in the city. The majority of visitors were estimated to spend no more than 90 minutes in the city. The recent opening of hotels in and close to the city should be help with that.
The Committee thought it important that any proposals for addressing the issues of tourism should be sustainable with particular (but not exclusive) reference to transport. Allied to this was the suggestion, which had been made on previous occasions, of the potential financial and environmental benefits of a cable car which might run, for example, from Redbridge Park and Ride to Westgate, this was a ‘big idea’ to address a ‘big problem’.
It was confirmed that a new Waterways Officer had been appointed and that the waterways would contribute to the City Centre Action Plan.
It was noted that the written update was not always clear about whether the position described related to the present or when the report was originally completed; clarification about this would be helpful. On balance the Committee was satisfied with the responses given and noted that a considerable amount had been achieved since the original report’s completion.
The Committee resolved to recommend to Cabinet that the Council:
1. Plans how it will work with those responsible for tourist travel to Oxford more environmentally sustainable; and
2. Revives its partnership with City Centre shops to provide a toilet scheme.
- Tourism Review Group Update for Scrutiny Committee Sept 8th (new date) v 4, item 45. PDF 138 KB View as HTML (45./1) 31 KB
- Tourism Appendix 1, item 45. PDF 251 KB View as HTML (45./2) 44 KB