Jacqui Gisborne, Head of PR for Weymouth and Portland Council on hosting the sailing events for the Games in 2012.
The day they announced the success of London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Weymouth and Portland changed forever. The task we faced was to ensure that the change was right for the community, businesses and most importantly, it was sustainable.
Hosting the sailing events for the Games in 2012 has increased our profile greatly; so much so, we were awarded the 2010 Trip Advisor award for Best Emerging Destination. The media started to view us in completely new light. No longer was the focus solely on the British holiday and everything that makes it what it is. They now write about the restaurants that serve fresh locally caught fish, the heritage and Georgian architecture, the only natural World Heritage site, the Jurassic Coast which for the first time will form the back drop for the sailing in 2012, improved transport links – we are entering a new phase.
For generations families have visited Weymouth for their main holiday, with the beach being main focus. The drawback is the season is short with little spare capacity during the school holidays.
Activity & adventure tourism
So whilst riding high on the spotlight wave, our focus is to strengthen the tourism economy by identifying and promoting to a new market.
We did not have far to look. Using the natural outdoor assets, we are able to offer great itineraries for nearly every water sport, offer great walking, trail riding, rock climbing, coasteering, coastal kayaking – everything you need for ‘activity and adventure’ tourism. But we know that real change will not be overnight. We need to keep developing our offering, engage and inspire the tourism industry to take the journey with us. Some have already started by providing fresh water wash off facilities with a drying area, safe area to lock and store your bike and kayak and an area to clean and hang your walking boots – that is not your bedroom.
So whilst developing a new sustainable tourism market, we are also preparing to deliver the most ‘memorable Olympic sailing experience in the history of the Games’ – and it is coming together very well, do book your place now!