Islands Promoted At Major London Outdoor Show
Scilly has been promoted at a major activity show, a departure from the islands’ traditional attendance at travel and destination events.
Island Marketing, the tourism promotion group funded by the Council, Island Tourism, Tresco, Estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, British International Helicopters and the Steamship Company, arranged attendance at the Outdoor and Active Leisure show at Excel in London’s Docklands.
Organiser Graham Buckley of Mercury PR says the show appealed because it wasn’t just a holiday promotion event.
Scilly had little competition as a destination with Kent, the Isle of White, The Broads and the Channel Islands being the only other British destinations represented. Cornwall wasn’t present.
The 4-day exhibition focussed on activities and outdoor pursuits with significant walking, biking and rock climbing elements and was run at the same time as the Boat Show, in the adjacent hall. Ticket holders had access to both events and 70,000 people were expected by organisers.
Graham feels the outdoor activities fit well with Scilly’s offer. His team focussed displays and promotions on Scilly’s outdoor, nature and wildlife attractions to meet the requirements of the showgoers.
On reflection, Graham says they should offer more information for sailors as it is “an area where we can fill a gap.”
The growth in organised walking tours and trips was obvioius from the number of companies offering those services at the show.
The Ramblers Association already bring tour parties to the Islands and Aisling Rasekh, Product Manager at Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, started tours with the Atlantic Hotel in March.
Aisling says walking is a growth market and Scilly’s walk programme is “doing really well” with excellent feedback from visitors.
Walk Scilly Was Missed Opportunity
But the show revealed there is increased competition for Walk Scilly within this growing tourism sector. Kent, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of White are all hosting individual walking events this year.
Walk Scilly information and dates weren’t included in any promotions during the exhibition and Julian Pearce of the Council’s Tourism Department admits it was a missed opportunity. He says next year’s event should be promoted this summer so potential walkers know dates and they can plan ahead.
Julian was also impressed with the event which he referred to as “eye opening.”
He was interested to talk to people who say they have always wanted to come to Scilly, to find out what was stopping them.
Julian said there was more work to do in creating a solid and strong Scilly brand and there needed to be more promotion of Scilly’s location. Some attendees mistook us for Sicily and wanted the distance from Milan.
Graham says there is a perception that Scilly is a long way from London, where the majority of show attendees live.
He said Londoners would go to Devon for the weekend but would “question going further.”
More work could be done to promote the direct flights from Southampton and the railway’s sleeper service.
Graham says there is also a perception that Scilly is expensive and there is an extra travel element in “getting over” but once he explained that, most people were fine.
People attending the IoS stand were asked to enter a contest to win a holiday and their name and address information will go into a database to allow Island Marketing to communicate with people after the show.
Julian says they will need to weigh up the benefits in attending future shows against the cost, at around £3000. His team will analyse the level of enquiries afterwards.
Graham says he has been “really pleased by the level of interest” and he said attendees “seemed the right type of people for the islands.”