Council’s New Vision Document Criticised For Ignoring Tourism Industry

town hall 4Councillors have criticised the Authority’s new vision statement because it failed to mention tourism – the islands’ biggest economic driver.

The Corporate Plan, which sets out Council policies through to 2018, was being reviewed by members for the second time.

A decision on the first draft was deferred because too many off-island councillors had to leave the last meeting.

Some councillors were also unhappy that changes agreed in workshops hadn’t been included in the final draft.

But at the Full Council meeting, Cllr Fran Grottick said she couldn’t support the document because it didn’t talk about tourism.

Fran said, “to have it mentioned nowhere in a corporate plan when our islands are virtually dependent on tourism seems rather strange.”

She wanted a statement put in to recognise that it is our key industry.

That view was shared by other councillors.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough said they needed to emphasise, “loud and clear that if tourism fails, everything fails.”

Tourism should be a “flagship item,” he said.

While Cllr Marian Bennett said that tourism was too important to ignore and, “impinges on every aspect of life, such as transport and even the design of buildings.”

But Tresco Estate owner, Cllr Robert Dorrien Smith was less concerned about the omission.

He said the Council was keen to support all forms of the economy and they had an agenda for growth.

He didn’t feel they needed to single out a particular sector because it would change over the years.

In the end, councillors voted to accept the new plan, but with the inclusion of a phrase suggested by Cllr Grottick that recognised the importance of tourism to Scilly.



13 Responses to Council’s New Vision Document Criticised For Ignoring Tourism Industry

  1. Alice A June 26, 2015 at 12:47 am

    Strange how the people supporting the importance of tourism on here are the very people with a vested interest in the trade, which is fair enough, their lively hood is on the line so have every right to be worried. The problem is, I’m worried for the vast majority over here who don’t have a hand in tourism and who struggle to make ends meet because the choice and variety of work is sparce, unrewarding and underpaid.

    As mentioned by Mike, the islands could have a much brighter future by actually pulling together as a community and setting the standard for being a (quote the council’s old moto) ‘a strong and dynamic island community’.

    We used to be both, and visitors used to come here to enjoy the islands we built for ourselves and not what we built for them. It all just seems false and pretentious now, and it makes me cringe at the kind of tripe that is casted off in leaflets and sprawled on Web sites that purports this transendant life on the islands. I appreciate that tourists would rather see pictures of sun soaked landscapes with a toned middle aged couple enjoying fresh strawberries on a beach with a poetic portrayal of island life on the inset of the page. Rather than a stressed soaked, single mother who’s just worked a nine hour shift paid nigh on the minimum wage, whos only highlight of the day is coming home to her 4 year olds smiley face unbeknown to him that he will not be part of a bright future on the islands because we decided to stay in this time warped fiasco. Its all b*****s really isn’t it.

    Time to lose the facade, the mask is slipping and everyone is going to see the real identity of the islands that lies beneath.

    • High Lanes Drifter June 27, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      Oh dear Alice.

      You really are at a low ebb!
      The Islands used to have a shipbuilding industry but wood gave way to steel, it had a busier farming sector but tiny fields, additional freight and the demand for bigger, cheaper, faster limit the scope for our farmers to compete.
      High speed broadband offers the opportunity for some of those who have particular skill sets to operate remotely; that said you do need to realise that while more is feasible from a base on the Islands, remoteness remains the cause of a costly and inconvenient additional overhead. Despite transport issues remoteness only works for one industry and that is when the Islands are viewed as a unique tourism destination. Much more might be possible from within tourism but it is unlikely a determined entrepreneur is going to choose the Islands to manufacture anyhing for significant export!

      As for the “mask slipping” etc etc I fear you might be waxing a touch lyrical.

      For what it is worth I have no direct tourism connections.

      • Hank June 29, 2015 at 12:29 pm

        I’d like to see the islands do tourism a lot better. I’d like to see a Gastonbury-esqe festival every year. Why not? The Isle of Wight have a huge festival, we could try to arrange a smaller-scale music and arts festival.

        I’d like to see bigger-scale water-sports events come to Scilly.

        You look at gig weekend and you can see just how well the island can handle a big event.

        I’d like to see an aquarium/sea-life centre back on the islands.

        I’d like to see street-cafes with tables out, and traffic banned from hugh street.

        I’d like to see public areas decorated beautifully, fountains, palm trees.

        I’d like to see the beaches cleaned and raked in Hugh Town.

        I’d like to see the useless small garden with no view on Porthcressa Bank become a beach-front bar/café/lounge.

        I’d like to see Porthmellon marrongrass area turned into something friendlier, more useful.

        I’d like to see the IP decorate the quarry-face on Buzza Hill.

        I’d like to see punts for hire, or even pedalos. People scoff, not sure why, let families enjoy the sea in a healthy and environmentally-sound way!

        I’d like to see a fisherman’s market on the quay.

        Just ideas, harmless ideas.

  2. LINDA BADCOCK June 25, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Tourism is and will always be the lifeline within our beautiful Islands. We should be putting all the resources relevant to providing services including transport forward, not wasting money and time spent on lesser viable options.
    I thank the councillors who speak out and voice their opinions with regard to the importance of tourism on behalf of us believing, that is the way forward.

  3. Mike June 25, 2015 at 11:22 am

    The document doesn’t ignore tourism, it offers a fair way forward for ALL who live and work on the islands. Tourism is not fair, it’s not sustainable, it’s not reliable, it’s not repeatable as a financial model 30 years from now. Look at the disco, he simply shut it. And fair play to him, I would, big house like that, time to retire. The same can, and will, happen for other properties/businesses in the future. No legacy, no ‘hand-over’, the situation will change overnight because individuals will make individual decisions, for themselves. There’s no structure in place to support tourism, it’s just a load of individuals making individual decisions that, for the moment, supports itself (just). The fact that you can’t see that says lots about the ‘great minds’ behind tourism. And this is why Tresco is separate, it is controllable by one person, across the board.

    Don’t get me wrong, Tresco deserves a year-round trade from tourism. It is a top class resort, but Dorrien-Smith’s vision for Tresco should have nothing to do with the 2000 souls who live on St Mary’s and don’t live in a castle and haven’t inherited a fortune.

    Tourism isn’t a healthy option for the overall local economy. The poor cannot get rich from tourism, the game is rigged.

    It is a VERY low paid area of work that offers no financial stability, poor working conditions, poor terms of employment, and very little in the way of progression to a better paid job. And then you factor-in that the tourist season is from April to October, and that your employers don’t care what happens to you financially between November and March. You can’t even try to build a property to turn into a guest house or hotel because (A) you can’t earn enough to build it, and (B) it would get turned down on planning grounds by rivals who want to keep the wealth circulating in the same pockets, and we can name the same names, they are usually the ones buying the biggest houses/cars or going on exquisite holidays during the winter months.

    I want something fairer for the islands, for the people of the islands, for the kids who want to one day live and work on the islands and be able to be housed and be able to earn good money in a stable job.

    Tourism should be a by-product for the islands, not the main industry. Tourists will always come to the islands, always. Maybe not quite in these numbers, but then that depends on what happens with transport to the islands in the future, and NOT because of some lo-fi advertising campaign on Youtube or because you’ve put a new sandwich on the menu, or because you had new sinks put in your hotel/B&B.

    These islands should aspire to something much higher than just being Playa Del Scilly for 6 months of the year, this is the socially-responsible way forward for the islands. Only people with financially vested interests are likely to oppose this view, which immediately makes their opinion biased/corrupt in their own interests of making money.

    For a group of islands with about 200 chefs on it right now, it’s hard to believe locals can’t go out for a decent meal on St Mary’s for six months of the year. It’s also a pain to go to the ‘shops’ and for all of them to be utterly useless to local people for six months of the year because we don’t have a need for a treasure map, snorkels, Frisbee, £30 t-shirt, or deck shoes in mid December, and the Co-op can’t be bothered to buy extra storage so that the shelves stay full in the winter.

    Really do get the horrid feeling that the IP would gladly ‘buy-out’ local families so that they could rent them out for £800 a week in the Summer, and pay someone £50 to clean it every week.

  4. Euan Rodger June 24, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    The streets of St Mary’s are getting busier and busier year on year…and why…tourism which is very much alive and well!

    • Jann June 25, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      The Islands have only so much capacity it hasn’t changed, at the busy times Hugh Town is no busier than 20yrs ago, (we had 26-28 Cruise Liners in a season then,)
      Its not getting “busier and busier” it just happened before you came to live here Euan.
      It does seem to be busy in short bursts these days.
      We used to have families here for two/three weeks, now its all aimed at short term stayers….and they are the one’s that will head somewhere else at the drop of a hat.
      The Families used to feed the future in way of their kids returning with their family’s and so it went on.

  5. Fran Grottick June 24, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    There is no suggestion that exploring other avenues of income is not a good idea.
    .Sincerely, Fran

  6. Name entered June 23, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Well done Cllr Dorrien-Smith! The other three councillors can carry on with their heads in the sand ignoring the need to diversify away from tourism. The lack of tourists on the streets of St. Marys implies that the trade is dying! Don’t wait for it to get even worse by not looking at other ways to boost the islands economy.

    • Gordon Bilsborough June 24, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      In reply to “Name entered,” can we be advised of ways of diversifying away from tourism, apart from drilling for oil on Samson?

      • confused June 25, 2015 at 10:48 am

        As one of our elected officials, should you not be the one hunting down answers for problems such as our reliance on tourism rather than asking in a way that reads a touch dismissive?

        Just in case, i have a couple of ideas for you below

        We could look at the creation of some suitable dorms and labs/classrooms, then organise with Falmouth uni/etc to send over students on extended field trips? That would generate some much needed winter income. It would be ideal for those studying any geological/archeological/marine subjects to name just a few. Yes, the rent would have to be cheap, but if the council sorted something like that, it would be bringing in potentially 10 or 20 students for the quietest part of the year? It wouldnt just have to be Falmouth either, if you look further afield, we could try and build ties with organisations such as Bangor Uni, which has a major marine sciences dept, or any number of unis offering anything based on surveying/civil engineering/environmental sciences.

        Maybe we go the opposite of your suggest of oil drilling and look at the creation of green energy on a commercial scale within the boundries of CIOS’ control? Something like an offshore wind farm towards the bishop? Or maybe some wave-generated power round the back of Tresco – that would make a nice artificial reef in years to come too. On top of allowing us to produce a sell-able product to export to the mainland, it would bring in more skilled, year round work for the islands too.

        Just to add to it all, we could become a genuinely green community, which would be a fantastic achievement, and something that would likely increase our marketing potential re: tourism, especially with younger families, where environment is generally a much greater concern than with those from more senior generations.

        How does that sound?

        • Stig June 28, 2015 at 8:00 am

          A genuinely green community would be great but we’re hardly ambassadors for that when our solution to dealing with our waste is to stick it in big bags and dump it in someone else’s backyard. Vision for the future, my a**e!

        • Nanny June 28, 2015 at 7:59 pm

          The old school would certainly be suitable for a study centre and dorm. And then the money put aside from the new school build for the demolition of the old school the council has squirreled away,could be used to facilitate the idea.