Residents matter - Les résidents comptent
Well welcome back to the final hour here of the INTERREG EXPERIENCE programme closing conference. So this final chapter is all about the residents and creating those communities with the collaboration with tourism businesses as well. So how do we appeal to those those visitors but also to the communities that surround them. So where we live and sometimes work, the places in which we spend our time play a part in shaping who we are so who we are. A particular Winston Churchill once quoted 'we shape our buildings therefore they shape us'.
And the point it makes there of buildings can equally be made of our towns and villages and countryside and our coastline the champion local identity is important and tourism can and does bring many different benefits and this trend continues with live like a local which we hear often in many different marketing campaigns. But this this is very much how visitors want to experience a place they don't want to visit a place they want to experience it. And that's exactly what the EXPERIENCE programme has done and it's been successful in delivering a whole host of projects that bring together people, visitors with residents, residents with visitors where local people become ambassadors of walking trails or protected landscapes to delivering a visitor experience to tell the story of a place and where guests leave with an enriched cultural experience. So we have got a poll we would like to ask you so there's a number of different questions here in this poll and the questions will apply to various different people not every question may apply to you but please have a look at the poll it's now on your screen. There's
various different questions. The question is posed in both French and in English and I'll give you just a couple of moments to take a look through each of those questions in our poll and as I said if the question isn't relevant you can just click on the not applicable option. We would like to hear from you before we go further into our next theme. I can see some of the boats are coming in. Let's give you a few more moments to read through those questions. Hi Chris it's Luigina here from University of Surrey I just thought I'd give a little background whilst people are voting on the poll as to why we are asking these questions. Please say yeah.
So as part of the EXPERIENCE project we have been collecting resident surveys regularly within the six pilot regions. We have so far collected six waves of residents surveys, the sixth one is in fact still in course at the moment. We have collected three residents surveys about how residents felt about tourism in the high season and three about how residents felt about tourism in the low season and the results from this survey will be shared by one of our pilot regions so by Visit Kent soon and she will explain to us why it's important to collect this data and how they have benefited from knowing about how locals feel about tourism in their destination. Great thank you very much for bringing us that and we've got just a few more moments before we close the poll and then we'll move on to our presentation but thank you very much for everybody's time in actually completing that part it's really useful as we heard to actually take part in these things and feedback is really important so thank you very much. So that's going to end the poll now and then we will share those results there we go the results are coming through so you can have a look through those and they'll go off to Visit Kent as we just heardand to kind of to go with more data as well. Brilliant okay let's turn our attention next our next presentation we're gonna head to Kent to join Raluca who is going to give us our next presentation and then after that we're staying in Kent to join Pete on the North Downs Way National Trail and meet two of the ambassadors there as well so let's head to Kent and Raluca who's there for us there now.
Perfect thank you thank you so much Chris. Hi everyone so my name is Raluca for those of you that don't know me I am the head of insights and research at Visit Kent. As a DMO so a destination management organisation, we normally carry out a fair amount of research to understand our visitors and our business performance to be able to serve both groups better but even so the EXPERIENCE project has really allowed us to enhance our knowledge and to explore areas that we hadn't before such as measuring the impacts of tourism beyond economic parameters so I will be spending the next few minutes telling you about how we have been using the data collected from resident surveys and how we have as a destination benefited from having this data. I know it's quite late in the day so I will try there we go. Right so before we delve into it this is what we've been doing so far. The project partners will obviously be really aware of what the surveys entailed and what their aim was but for for our wider audience we just wanted to quickly look at what we did because this informs the benefits that we are getting out of it so we've collected as Luigina said data in waves.
Six in total throughout the lifetime of the project which really allows us now to build trends and monitor and interpret findings in line with other wider factors that could impact behaviour. Best example in this case would be covid but also know these seasonal changes in perception. We collected data using resident databases and also through social media paid promotion which allowed us then to kind of get a very similar and robust sample size wave on wave.
We were able to review the questionnaire Midway through in line with kind of some of the restrictions of the pandemic easing which then allowed us to also capture residents leisure behaviour when it came to a local visitation. We've also created reports which we've published and we delivered presentations. We shared key results to ensure the findings are being used as widely as possible and also something that something else we've done is that we've shared the links to previous reports every time we send out invitations to residents to fill in a new wave of the research so that they themselves could see some of the results of the feedback they put in. On the slide you can see the contents page of one of such reports just as an example and also an infographic that in our case was based on findings from wave four just again to give you an idea about the things we've covered. Moving on now the best chance to understand the results of any data is really by putting it in context and I think this is what we've discussed all day today but it's really important to understand what might have impacted people's behaviours and answers at the time they were filling in and providing feedback. I have added on this slide some of the recent issues that are reinforcing the need to keep asking our residents for their opinion on tourism so you know we have demand for sustainability which as we all know it was increasing in popularity before covid and has continued to grow even more so during the pandemic with people becoming more aware of the environment and of their communities well-being and day-to-day social aspects that they could not partake in anymore due to restrictions. It really kind of put things into perspective for many
generating long-term changes on their behaviours including when it comes to traveling and leisure. one of these trends was of course around staycations and despite traveling resuming staycations have still remained a strong option for visitors for a variety of reasons including ease of planning the opportunity to link a trip with seeing friends and family. Maybe also the ability to take more shorter breaks and for some even cost related reasons.
The trend was seen when it came to Kent residents as well in our case with the majority of them indicating that they were in fact planning on taking more domestic trips. This kind of leads us nicely to the third point which for the last six months at least has become a really important factor in people's decisions which is around cost of living and the cost of living crisis consistently financially related reasons have been highlighted to be key barriers to longer holidays to booking in advance and the contributing factor to the growing interest in day trips to name just a few. Local visitation increased even after restrictions lifted which means that now the residents insights are useful not just to determine the impact of winter and summer tourism on local communities but also to understand how do residents engage with their local areas for leisure and to start building a visitor profile for locals regularly measuring the pulse of the community on all things, tourism infrastructure, local facilities pride in place is important as it really allows us as a destination to make informed decisions and it's really important for our businesses and local authorities as well. So if if we are to unpick some of the benefits
of having regular residence feedback if we go on to the next slide please. Following the massive consumer changes due to the pandemic as many other places have done we have done some work to create four in our case up-to-date domestic visitor profiles based on the latest research available to ensure that we are reaching the right people via the right channel at the right time and to drive recovery of the visitor economy. One of these segments which we called hyper local includes local residents and they're visiting friends and families and it was massively informed by the feedback that we collected in the resident research. The first three
waves of the research showed us that most people were happy and proud of where they lived that they considered the local area to be a tourist destination and that they were seeing overall more benefits of tourism on the local economy, facilities, infrastructure than negative issues. From wave 4 onwards so from the middle point we updated the questions of the survey so we were able to learn a little bit more about their local leisure behaviour, what they liked doing in their local areas, how far in advance they were booking a local activity, what channels were they looking for inspiration and planning their appetite for taking more local trips in the future which in in our case was quite strong and a few other things. Well we did this because suddenly what was traditionally seen as a low value market that we weren't directly targeting was offering stability, was driving recovery throughout the last couple of years and was indeed keeping many tourism businesses afloat. Next slide comes
the second half of our hyperlocal profile as as I mentioned is made up of visiting friends and relatives where again residents play a really important part because happy locals who explore what's on their doorstep make for great ambassadors and confidently recommend things to do. This in turn means their visitors are reassured that they're they're receiving valuable local information and will be having a great time. Our latest economic study showed that in 2021, almost 40 percent of overnight visits to Kent were for visiting friends and relative purposes and the third of Kent residents stated in the resident research that they had received VFR visits in the previous six months so this just kind of shows how big this market can be especially in the recovery phase following the pandemic. So given residents existing product knowledge particularly of more established attractions and things to do a great way to surprise them and to give them reason to visit locally is by having new events and new experiences which can allow them to re-explore their local area. Dedicated campaigns for residents were also a fantastic way of rewarding residents
and of encouraging them to go out and explore new things in their local communities but in order to reach residents and capture their attention, some changes needed to be made. Next slide please. And these changes are all linked to the way we speak to them and engage with them, because having the right tone of voice and utilising a tailored approach content targeting and promotion is crucial as you can simply not present residents with the same messaging you would use to engage with regular visitors. The resident survey has really helped us to build a profile for locals, we captured insights about where they look for inspiration and information, how far in advance they plan a local visit, what are they mostly interested in... All of it so we can put dedicated information in front of them like some of the screenshots that you can see on the slide were consistently seeing that since we have adopted this targeted approach to our content. Our digital stats have increased significantly many instances
outperforming the industry benchmarks when it comes to 12 times and click-throughs. Another benefit of having timely feedback from residents is that we are able to use these insights to inform our lobbying and to articulate our industry's needs showing how the community fell during certain events such as the pandemic or in Ken's case last year's travel disruptions have been really impactful and really helped us strengthen the message. Press releases, interview requests and government consultations are other important instances where knowing residents perceptions was really important because listening and responding to residents feedback increases their satisfaction with the local area, makes them proud to live where they live and improve their well-being and this is not all. Next slide please, this data has also become really a really important tool for our local authorities and tourism businesses as we are receiving positive feedback around how useful it has been. Residents opinions on tourism and the wider implications of tourism have not been collected before EXPERIENCE so having now waves of this research and publishing it has been really well received as community well-being is such an important part of locals authority strategies and plans. But the data also contributes to bidding for additional funding or to influence budget and resource allocations. Same applies really when it comes to businesses for whom residents
are important not just because as we covered their key markets but also these insights can really support them with putting together business cases, making planning applications, feasibility studies and so on we are often asked as a DMO to provide letters of support or data to support such applications and I think a recent example really was of a particular attraction who was seeking to expand the number of concerts and events that he would say it was able to hold and because we had the positive feedback of the district's residence when it came to tourism and how it benefited them, giving them access to more facilities and infrastructure we had then the ability to provide the business with compelling stats to make the case. Next slide please which I think is the last one. Yeah so as I said this was kind of it for me and without repeating myself too much for all the reasons I have already shared with you we have decided that we will be collecting residents data after the EXPERIENCE project comes to an end because for us and for our businesses it has been extremely useful and also because it supports the type of destination that we want to be, a place where visitors can make unforgettable memories and businesses can thrive but also a place where local communities are happy and proud to call home. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, a lot of data there a lot of information. That's going to be so helpful not just being helpful already and for the future but for the long term as well because just gaining that information is really really useful to everyone. Thank you very much for showing us that. Gonna look back at the results now of the poll
I'm going to bring in Luigina back into the discussion here just to go back through the past so it should be back on your screen. Luigina just bring those questions to you. Now just to kind of you know we've got 32 out of 60 people that can take part in the poll so it's not a huge poll but it gives us some data doesn't it. I think it's telling already that before EXPERIENCE, none of the six pilot regions of the project were collecting resident data at all. Never mind regularly and making a comparison between the high season and the low season and I think as reluca was highlighting it's really important I think that there's there's a kind of we think of tourism as something that visitors come into our destination and enjoy. We don't think of tourism as something that locals can partake in too and I think the key here and what in what we have been doing with EXPERIENCE and as other partners have been showing is that when you design things, listening to your locals and by also thinking of how your locals can benefit from a piece of infrastructure, a piece of artwork, an experience it just enhances the authenticity of your tourism offer and so knowing that your residents, knowing how they feel about what you're doing and involving them in your tourism strategy as Raluca was sharing in her presentation is key to bringing them on board and making and enhancing your destination and as even if the responses aren't very high because we're only 32 respondents but still you can see how almost like the majority just aren't consulted by their local authorities on how they feel about tourism in their destination. Yeah yeah good. what I'm going to do is I'm going
to do is pop back that poll back again so if anybody wants to take part who haven't done that they can do so I think that's gonna happen shortly but thank you very much and I loved your phrase it might be used elsewhere but probably not it's probably coming from you but happy locals equals happy visitors and I just think that's a nice a nice takeaway for us all to think about today. Thank you both for your contributions. Okay we're now going to stay in Kent and we're going to come along the North Downs Way National Trail to join Pete Morris who is the North Downs Way manager and also two of his North Downs uh ambassadors. Pete good afternoon. Thanks for inviting me to speak so I think first and foremost just need to check that both of our ambassadors are on the call I know that Gary's at work today so are you there Gary? I am here Peter. Fantastic and Michael? I'm here too. Great thank you very much I'll just say a few words to start with to set the scene and then we'll go into a few questions to ambassadors to how they got involved, why they got involved in what they do so uh next slide please.
So the North Down's Way for context is one of 16 National Trails in the UK funded by the government and North Downs Way runs along a chalk Ridge between London and the Kent Coast really through the protected landscapes in Surrey and in Kent. The trail is about 153 miles long about 246 kilometers. Next slide so the Ambassador training really started back in 2018 before the Experience Project. We got a little bit of funding for our 40th anniversary and during that time we decided we wanted to train some event and walk leaders in order to deliver some events for us. We did three training sessions across Surrey and across Kent and we trained about 20 ambassadors that was a one-day training course so it was quite brief it's quite light touch and there's no sort of formal qualification and what we found was a number of our masters took that training and really ran with it, set up their own walking businesses and did regular activity. A few of our ambassadors
helped support some of our partner activity walking festivals and specific activities in the countryside along the trail but we felt that we kind of touched on something and it was really important that we had local people with local knowledge and local stories involved but we felt that we could better which really takes us to what we were trying to achieve in the EXPERIENCE project. So we really wanted more ambassadors all the way along the trail we wanted a better training programme and we wanted the ambassadors to be sort of a link between us the local businesses and the landscape because of the geography and the resource that we we didn't have at our disposal, we felt that having these people on the ground would would really sort of help to make those connections and tell those local stories. What we really wanted to do was to encourage more people from different backgrounds so again we're stuck between London and the channel so overseas visitors coming in from Continental Europe and then a lot of people based around London and maybe non-traditional don't often see a lot of these people in the countryside and we were hoping that our ambassadors would be able to facilitate more people from different backgrounds to come out into the countryside to give them some confidence for them to then come back out a return visit, spend money on the local rural economy and have that confidence to be able to explore our countryside with the knowledge that they've gained from our ambassadors. So next slide please. In order us for us to do that we needed to develop a programme and we recruited Richard who is the guy in the orange there. Richard runs a commercial walking tour holiday, he also runs Mountain leader courses and with Richard we put together a programme that we thought would cover all of the all the bases that we wanted to cover and we opened up applications mainly via social media and our local networks and we had over 100 applications which was a bit of a surprise and we didn't anticipate that. Many maybe that was because a lot of people were locked down and were working at home and had a little bit more time than they normally would have had and we managed to get that down to 50 candidates and of those 50 candidates 40 graduated and are active in addition to the to the candidates that we trained in 2018. So we have ambassadors spread all the way along the trail.
Our ambassadors come from lots of different backgrounds they are very different interests and they invite people out onto the trail for different reasons. Our training was done through necessity largely online but when we could do so we had days out on the trail with Richard and some field activity. So next slide please. And once they had undertaken the online training and some of the practical sessions they were sent out to practice often in small groups with each other, they had homework to do, they had to prepare risk assessments, event management plans and they brought those to assessment days where Richard assessed their ability and you know a lot of this was about competency outside and ensuring that whoever they were supervising would be safe and sound and also learn you know about the countryside, the geology, photography, foraging all of those different interests and themes that crop up. But all of this was underpinned by you know are these people people capable of taking a group of people into the countryside and returning about in a in a safe manner and so there was quite an emphasis on that and happy to report that 40 all of our candidates graduated and we had a online graduation day. Next slide please. So in order to support our ambassadors we created an online directory so this is visible to the public on the Kent Downs website and people can contact our ambassadors.
we also offer support for ambassadors that are putting on their own events which we can help promote. we have our own Facebook group, we've got local WhatsApp groups for the various Ambassador groups up and down the trail. We've held networking events which Rebecca touched on previously. We also have an online toolkit with some key documents and background information in order to support our ambassadors with whatever they do and so they can plan and ensure that they're covered and you know insurance and all of those key things that go to underpin all of the exciting things that happen out on the trail. We also provided them with some basic equipment some maps, fivers bib um and an ambassador badge to put on their jacket or on their backpack to show that they had undertaken the training. They can also download these logos and use them on their own social channels and
Facebook pages and websites Etc. So our ambassadors are now out there and they're active they either operate as an individual business and they create their own income as an ambassador or they collaborate with us or each other or other partner organisations in the countryside. They also partner with EXPERIENCE makers and local businesses which you previously heard about. They also offer support for walking festivals, walking events and any activities that we have along the trail. So last Saturday Michael who you speak to in a minute he came and supported
us with one of our art installation launches. He came along and supported that and so there's quite a wide breadth of activity that of the ambassadors undertake for us and of course all of the time we've got ambassadors out on the trail they're providing feedback on the condition of the trail, anything that's broken that needs fixing or any new opportunities that they identify whilst they're out about with new businesses that could operate we could operate alongside. So next slide please. It's probably time to meet the ambassadors so Gary I'll go to you first because you're already sort of involved with the trail from the outset and we already had done some work together but what was it about the Ambassador scheme that sort of drew you in, what was your interest? Well as you said Peter I've known of the North Downs Way for many years without really wondering where it starts, where it ends or exactly where it wanders between those but there are sections which are shared, something called the pilgrim cycle trial which I've been a way marking volunteer with Sustrans for many years and that's kind of peaked my interest in the trail as a whole promoting healthy and sustainable tourism, encouraging people to visit the countryside by rail, aligns wonderfully with our objectives that can community rail partnership of promoting sustainable healthy travel, bringing communities together and supporting social and economic development. So whilst things sort of started out as a plan of creating information boards at stations uh way marking connections so that visitors could arrive and get to the trail quickly and safely that began to get a bit bogged down in issues of permission issues of funding to put those in there and how much fun is that anyway you can't count how many people stand and stare at your information board you can't really see how much it makes them smile so training to be an ambassador take people on what we now call well Rambles to experience the trial that's proved to be much more fun for us and much more fun for the people to come along.
Okay great so the Ambassador training kind of sits hand in hand with your day job? Absolutely it mirrored some training requirements which I would have to lead walks of this nature but I think it very much built upon them the focus through such transwood almost entirely been delivering the bulk the associated health benefits the well-being benefits. But it adds another dimension that through that training you can begin to talk a little about the ecology, the history and bring the whole environment to life. Great thanks. Michael you come from a completely different background would you would you like to tell us a little bit about how you got involved and what your interests are? Yes certainly I got involved I guess I grew up with the sort of side of the Downs when I was very young. It was sort of I pulled back my curtains and there they were I moved away from you know when I was quite young and went way into sort of city life and working in the city within sort of community work developing projects, fundraising and sort of things like that but my last five years have been spent working for the Kent County council's Mental Health enablement Team now part of the enablement is supporting people trying to improve mental health, getting out their physical well-being and a lot of what I have I guess I have been doing out with clients is now very much overlapping with becoming a North Downs Way Ambassador. I guess because I have seen the actual sort of
benefits that people get by being outside by being sort able to walk or to sit on a log you know I think those memories I have of sort of early childhood, the magnificent views and everything that created it just gave me sort of a real passion to take my professional work and do it in a you know in both professionally now and as a hobby I guess. Like you know it's absolutely brilliant to actually see what happens to somebody who comes across nature who has had therapy after therapy after therapy and to see what just interacting with trees and animals and things like that it's just a wonder to see and it needs a lot more sort of you know development, a lot more looking into and I I know there's a lot going on out there but I think it's sort of you know we need to move back to that a bit. Thank you that's really inspirational and I know that you know you've put together your own business and website and you're now starting to really sort of ramp up those activities and Thanks for all of your support from our perspective, Michael gets involved in a lot of our activities and and it's great to have all these people from different backgrounds involved in our activity you know as I said previously we put together the training with Richard at piano tire and the training was based on what we thought people needed and what we thought people would be looking for so just going back to you Gary how did you find the training and was there anything in the training you weren't expecting and any particular new skills that you've developed? Well the training does seem a long time ago now and the wonderful pictures which you've been showing today certainly brought back some memories of the splendid weather that we had out on the trail and I think most of those are sort of late September early October from memory. We were quite fortunate immersive in-depth extremely supportive and encouraging you found an excellent trainer in Richard best bits undoubtedly when we were out on the trail and learning from each other and the training has very much shown me each Ambassador finds their own Groove, their own way to deliver the joy of the trail. A walk becomes a bit more interesting by sharing a little history of the area, knowledge of the environment you're walking through a touch of poetry and whether what is this life full of care we have no time to stand and stare so reflection, poetry, meditation, rest they're all important simple things never forget to stop turn around admire the views. Sometimes the best view is
behind you but the other thing is it's okay as an ambassador not to know it all it takes a little extra to change and ordinary experience into an extraordinary one and yes it's most certainly encouraged me to see more of the North Downs Way, explore other trails as well and indeed lead walking on other trails with greater confidence and certainly a huge boost to my own well-being. Brilliant thank you very much and Michael what about yourself how did you find the training? I found it like the actual Downs itself a breath of fresh air it it was just so sort of exhilarating to join up um with other people with a love and a passion for the outdoors and the Downs and so many of these people that I met already sort of with a wealth of knowledge about trees and you know rocks and geology and it just sort of gave me a new excitement for you know getting out there even more and wanting to do more with people you know professionally I've already said about the life-changing sort of experiences that clients I work with and that does include sort of you know a client that I just was mesmerized by who spent an hour in a field with a cow just fully immersed and in love with it to the point when you know I had to say we've got to go I'm afraid the time's up. I've I think what most of all in seeing though everybody else with me on that day Gary and and the rest of them that I have walked with since it just gave me a passion that came back with the writing and the storytelling which were things of my childhood of things of younger days that had totally been lost so I sort of took some time and I've taken a lot of time I remember Richard saying to me could you actually identify and at the time though I couldn't so you know a lot of research about folklore, the history and I guess my little niche now has been taking out people and so sort of talking about the funny things the little things, the things that some of the plants might do too if you pick them Etc but I think it it has it you know it's just been an amazing experience I'm glad I've done it I'm glad I was chosen I'm glad I have so many wonderful people around me and you know I will never be able to thank most of those people enough for you know what this experience actually did and in terms of you know what it does for the future and moving forward. Great and on that note looking to the future you know if we were gonna develop the Ambassador scheme and develop the skill set of and the ambassadors is there anything specific Gary that you you're looking forward to developing or any additional training or links with events and local businesses that you would you would look to us to try and provide for the next step for you? Well I'm really pleased to say at King Community route partnership uh two officers myself and Therese went through training and are now ambassadors we're both grateful for the support we've had on those walks we've been leading from other ambassadors we've met on the programme.
That's an organisation we continue to promote Walks from other ambassadors where they start or finish one of our stations and the training we had has helped us to make strong connections with partner organisations and enabled them to trust us to deliver particularly where they've shared that training it's moved Down's way Ambassador is building a a brand uh a badge of trust. We will continue leading walks on the North Downs Way we'll continue leading walks elsewhere in the Kent Downs AONB and further afield to meet the wishes of the communities we're working with and yeah absolutely it would be wonderful to see a rolling programme for Ambassador training so that there's more people coming on board and indeed an element of succession so inevitably some people will need to move away sure yeah well I mean as as this programme goes to a close we're we're already making plans for what goes on in the future so so watch this space. Michael same question to you really is that is there anything specific that you think you're lacking or where do you want to take your your training next? I think what I really need to do in the future you know I work in statutory Services statutory services that don't always recognize sort of the convention of being outside and how mental health can be improved you know I have the website I have developed the website which has some interests I have done a few walks with the training and you know in more of the storytelling side but I think going forward uh as an ambassador I think it's just now taken me to the point when can I become a full-time experienced warp leader and having some training to do that I know how to walk I know how to tell stories it's building the brand, building the business and building how I move forward really under that fantastic start that I've had with North Downs Way Ambassador scheme the dream would be to yes leave my job tomorrow and start walking with all sorts of things the practicalities yet you know sort of getting 20 booked on a walk and then only four turn up can be discouraging how do I now move to the next stage and I think if if the Ambassador scheme can sort of take me to the next level that's what I would like it to do I'm sure it can and I'm ready to go there whenever it's ready. Well thanks both for joining us today and for speaking with such passion so hopefully those watching today will get an idea of what we're trying to achieve and you know the passion and enthusiasm of local people connecting with not just local residents local communities but visit and bringing new visitors into the area and telling those those local stories I hope that's given you some insight into what we're hoping to achieve and and what the opportunities are for for others to do something similar. Thank you very much indeed and thank you to Gary and Michael and that there was so much there that really does sum up EXPERIENCE but also experiential tourism you know you talked about much more than a view you know view is much more than that it has this added well-being mental health benefits and Michael your thoughts about you know not being an expert and that's okay in experiential tourism because you've become the expert you are the local person you know that I unskate really well and you have all those stories and that's what I really love about experiential tourism you don't necessarily need to be a professional to do something you can be a local full of knowledge and you can learn that through programmes like this.
So great thank you so much to you all uh Pete I've got one question that's come in on our Q&A who is asked were there any professional walking guides uh in the area before your training if so uh how do they feel about the Ambassador activities? We don't have a huge amount of professional walking holidays based down in the Southeast those that do exist are quite well established and I've got their their market share if you like in fact one of our walk four companies has come to our ambassadors to ask for additional support which I think shows that you know we're adding to rather than competing with. Yeah that's great I mean I think you know but it they can join why not that's what you very much for the answer as well um if you've got any questions you want to ask you can put them into the QA. We are coming towards the end of the conference we're going to be closing it shortly but as I say if you've got a question pop back in to the Q&A session if you want any more information about any of the projects featured in today's conference then just head to our website tourismexperience.org that's tourismexperience.org there you'll find links to all the projects but also really importantly all
the important resources that have been created because of the EXPERIENCE programme. So thank you very much for everybody joining us on that part of the workshop as I said we're coming towards the end of the closing conference today and to bring the conference to an end I'd like to welcome councilor uh Margaret Dewsbury who's from Norfolk County Council who is going to officially say a few accounts. Counselor thank you. Thank you well good afternoon everybody my name is Margaret Dewsbury and I'm the county council's Cabinet member for communities and Partnerships. Firstly I'd like to thank the EXPERIENCE team for a really interesting event. The day has gone really quickly. Like many of you before this project I hadn't heard of experimental tourism it's so it's inspirational to hear about the creative work that's been put in to develop over 1 000 activities and events to extend a visitor season across six regions and this is just the beginning. Hopefully it will continue to grow because all of the projects look as though they've got a lot more to offer even in normal times the collaboration required for a project between 14 Partners across two countries rather and in two languages would be quite something but then we've had covered the pandemic not only did it bring about everyday challenges such as moving from face to face to online meetings and causing delays with planned events but it also haltered full stop. Everything tourism came to a standstill
so it's a testament to the partnership for their hard work in adapting under such difficult circumstances to continue developing sustainable tourism even during lockdown. Thanks to EXPERIENCE Norfolk has now more enticing offers for tourists and it's soon to be completed new Art Trail and Dark Skies Observatory and an inspirational website Be Norfolk showcasing exciting autumn and winter activities, events. These contributions to sustainable tourism are a key part of norfolk's broader low-carbon ambitions and it's not only Norfolk, each of the six regions has improved their offer in order to extend the tourist season thereby increasing visitor numbers and spending we need to help the economy. For everyone interested in the new experiences I recommend that you look at the website that showcased the activities in the different regions. You can find links to these on the EXPERIENCE website.
I'd especially like to congratulate Katie Owen who had the ambition to drive this idea forward from the beginning as project manager and Angela Jefford who brought it to a successful conclusion after taking over Midway through. Both have done an exceptional job so thank you so much. On behalf of the team I'd like to say thank you I'd like to thank the EU's INTERREG France Channel England programme sorry for awarding the funding from the European Regional Development Fund and their belief in the project. I know that the cross-border collaboration element of the project between the UK and France has enriched the progress the process for everyone involved with a real exchange of cultures ideas and ways of working looking to the future project partners are already exploring opportunities for further collaborative working to build on the outcomes and learning from EXPERIENCE and develop new projects outside EU funding. In terms of the legacy of EXPERIENCE when you bring experts in that field or local area to collaborate on a project like this there are there will be things that they get right and things to learn from and because of this EXPERIENCE is producing a strategy guide for other regions looking to develop experiential tourism. This alongside resources from all the training sessions that have been delivered by the project will be freely available on the EXPERIENCE website by the end of the project in March.
One of the central ambitions of the project was always that other regions in the UK France and across the world would take this model of experiential tourism and tailor it to their own areas and we hope they do because that would be the greatest legacy of all for EXPERIENCE. So thank you for listening I hope you've all enjoyed the day. Thank you. Counselor thank you very much indeed to add your words there and very much appreciated and we've just got one more question a little bit extra time towards the end. One more I think Michael is keen to answer that. this question is about locals can be just as good as professionals. Of course of course. Michael you you've declared that you would like to answer that question.
Did I did you mean to? Probably not but yes thank you very much for saying that. Yes I think it is locals with no local knowledge and who could you know they we know the little trails, we know the little places you can stop where maybe somebody else doesn't and I think yeah sometimes it it is just knowing the lay of the land as well or shortcuts or anything or even a local farmer that might just let us shelter in his barn when the rain's tipping down but yeah thank you very much for that. Brilliant thank you so much Mike. A few more moments if you've got a question probably it's the Q&A. Just going to bring in now Luigina who's there it's just popped over and you're on mute at the moment so you do come in.
Yeah I just wanted to remind everyone that we are putting together a final legacy document for the project under the name of a best practice guide and this will be available to download for free on the project website so watch this space and it will be it will feature business case studies from the project learnings from the project it will be basically an inspiration of everything we have learned from the project from all the different work packages for anyone else to adapt and learn from and use in their own destination so that's going to be again free to download and to distribute from the Project's website very soon. That's brilliant thank you so much indeed I would like to thank all of our panelists today for all of their contribution. A special thank you to all the guests as well from the very various organisations and businesses that we've had on there such a lot of information is being shared today. Do head to the website the EXPERIENCE website tourismexperience.org.
Also we're going to be sharing the list of all the people all the panellists that have spoken today so it'll be a contact list that's going to be shared so if you've got a question you would like to ask any of the organisations, any of the businesses that have been featured on the conference today there will be a list following up um they'll be emailed to you as a participant so you can get in touch with them directly. So that's really good so thank you very much I would like to also thank the interpreters Michael and Sylvie who have done a fantastic job today who have been translating in both English and French thank you very much for being there and thank you for everybody and thank you for joining us and from me and all the projects in the programme have a very good evening and thank you for joining us. Merci, bonsoir.