When I moved out of London into the countryside, there was hardly any tourism activity, nor a recognised or well established sector, no network or business support.
Everyone was busy doing their own thing!
How times have changed, and I am very proud to be a part of this busy, thriving sector that boasts a wonderful mix of the traditional rural products with new, experiential businesses opening their doors and websites. We still have much to do, but the difference is that we are doing it together.
I keep busy running the local tourism network and DMO, developing new products, travel writing and photography and recently co-creating a new range of gifts and souvenirs.
In response to a low level of destination awareness and tourism marketing, I began to seek out and find friendly faces working locally in tourism in the Chilterns, who together over coffee and cake, co-founded the Chilterns Tourism Network.
Eight years later, we are one of those ‘unofficial DMO’s’ that can be found in increasing numbers across the UK, working hand in hand with a wide range of sectors including; farming, transport, retail, accommodation, events, food & drink, sport, museums and the arts promoting the Chilterns as a visitor destination; somewhere to stay, explore and enjoy throughout the year.
I have developed strategies, marketing campaigns, festivals, sector and audience development, web content and social media platforms.
I invited the founder of the East Anglia Pass to partner with us and create the Chilterns Pass, an explorer card. We were interrupted by Covid in 2020, and when we re-launch later this year, we will target residents and encourage them to support local businesses, not just once, but many times.
A Year in the chilterns
My labour of love, the A Year in the Chilterns blog has become well established with an endless list of places, people and peculiar to write about. I publish a post once a month, and keep the topics as varied as I can. The most popular posts from last year included; Keach’s meeting house, the Grande Dame of Ewelme, Goring & Streatley and People Watching in Purple. That’s stories from places as far apart as Winslow, Ewelme, Goring & Streatley and Hitchin.
it’s a lockdown!
Never one to stand still, the lockdown presented an opportunity to re-visit and film my local paths, canals and hillsides. I created a Vimeo account to hold the 18 short films I recorded. I loved doing this!
The business I co-created with Zoe Mingos during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown (I forget which lockdown), is also an important part of the Chilterns tourism scene. We have developed new ranges of unique gifts and traditional souvenirs in a retail marketplace where there is very little for visitors to buy, and our residents to show their friends and family where they live and what they love. Chilterns Gifts are sold online and through a growing partnership of local retailers including farm shops and museums.
I have worked with Susan Briggs for many years on all sorts of wonderful tourism projects. We plan to bring her brand of fresh tourism ideas, business support and sustainability to the business community this year through the TourismKnowhow products and business support.
If you have any ideas you want to discuss, or campaigns you are trying to get off the ground, then please use the contact me page. I look forward to hearing from you.