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The Board of the Islands' Partnership has today issued the following response to the proposed judicial review of Penzance Heliport:

  • As the official Destination Management Organisation and strategic lead for tourism on Scilly, the Islands’ Partnership recognises the importance of Scilly’s transport system and its critical role in growing the islands’ economic prosperity and sustaining a viable community.
  • We know from listening to our visitors and our 300+ members that a return of a direct helicopter service to Scilly would be welcomed by many. The Islands’ Partnership’s position remains unchanged on this - that the provision of additional capacity and resilience in our transport system is essential if the islands are to revitalise and extend its visitor economy.
  • It is regrettable therefore that new investment in the islands’ transport infrastructure and services could be threatened by recent developments. The Islands’ Partnership Board is therefore greatly concerned by the latest decision to raise a legal challenge against Cornwall Council’s decision to grant permission for the new heliport in Penzance.
  • However, we also recognise that the transport system as a whole has to remain viable with sufficient additional market demand to underpin both existing and any incremental new services. In turn, the islands must be prepared to rise to this challenge if we are to have the capacity to service and respond to this demand.
  • We feel it imperative that a resolution can be reached which avoids long and potentially damaging legal proceedings and enables the new helicopter service to proceed. The Islands' Partnership is committed to working with all transport operators to Scilly and an islands-wide approach to driving additional market demand that will ensure that the transport system as a whole remains viable and sustainable in the long term.
The Board of the Islands’ Partnership Tuesday, 6th June 2017
The Islands’ Partnership has released the results of its biggest Isles of Scilly Visitor Survey yet, which was conducted both online and via on-island surveys throughout the 2016 season. Last year, 2,381 surveys were completed, 95% of them by staying visitors and with the overall sample representing up to 10% of all visitors.

Once again Scenery, Peace & Quiet, Beaches and Wildlife remained the overwhelming motivators for visitors opting to holiday on Scilly. The general atmosphere, sense of welcome and customer service found amongst accommodation providers scored highest for visitor satisfaction, whilst the value of food & drink, quality of shops, range and quality of evening entertainment, and range and quality of groceries scored lowest.

For the second year running, 67% of visitors to Scilly were aged more than 45 years old, a proportion that has increased by 10% in the last three years. More than 40% of all visitors were from the southwest region of the UK, with at least 20% of visitors having Cornwall and Devon postcodes.

The survey findings have revealed a continued loyalty to Scilly with 70% of repeat visitors. First time visitors in 2016 accounted for 30% of the total number, mirroring the 30% of first-time visitors in 2015 and up from the 26% who were new to Scilly in 2014. Of the first time visitors in the last two yeas, 60% opt to come to Scilly for a short break, of between 2 and 4 nights. 65% of the survey respondents said that star ratings in making their accommodation choices were important or very important, an increase from 59% in 2015.

Only 29% of visitors booked accommodation online last year, a number that would have been higher had they been able to. Demand for the ability to research holidays and in particular to book online has increased steadily in the last couple of years. In 2016, 47% of respondents said that they would have booked their holiday on line had they been able to (29% did), an increase from 41% in 2015. 62% of visitors last year, and in 2015, found the website visitislesofscilly.com a useful source of information when booking their holiday.

“The 2016 Isles of Scilly Visitor Survey was our most comprehensive to date, and with 95% of those who completed it being staying visitors, it has given us a meaningful, qualitative insight on overall trends as well as visitor behaviour and satisfaction levels amongst visitors to the islands,” says Islands’ Partnership Executive Director, David Jackson. “With three years of visitor surveys behind us, we are much better able to build a complete picture of, and respond to, the needs and habits of our visitors. It is important that understand our visitor profile and their experiences so that local businesses and the Islands’ Partnership can align services to their needs and expectations and support product development that will help to enhance and grow the visitor economy.

“Already, thanks to the help of some DEFRA funding, we are introducing a new Food & Drink marque for Scilly this season which will help the islands’ producers and eateries to highlight Scilly’s distinctive food offering, and also engage visitors in the unique value and variety of our local produce,” he adds. “The Isles of Scilly is also set to benefit from major new investment into its cultural tourism offer after a successful bid by the Islands’ Partnership to Arts Council England’s national Cultural Destinations fund. The two-year project will bring to life Scilly’s rich and distinctive cultural heritage offer to attract new visitors to the islands. It will see the development of a range of new visitor experiences including discovery trails, events and cultural short break packages. And additionally, the Islands’ Partnership is set to embark on a project to enable businesses, and in particular accommodation providers, across the islands to take bookings online – something that is getting increasingly important for our visitors.” The 2016 Visitor Survey was conducted by the Islands’ Partnership in association with The South West Research Company.

The full 2016 Survey Report can be found in the members' area of the IP website, under "Reports, Surveys & Business Matters".
The Islands' Partnership has joined forces with Tresco Island to secure the return of the Royal Air Force Aerobatics Team, the Red Arrows, and a repeat performance of a full 25-minute aerobatic display above the Isles of Scilly on Bank Holiday Monday, 28th August 2017. The display, which will be sponsored by Tresco Island as part of its wider commitment to the islands, follows the success of last year’s display – a first for Scilly.

“We are very excited to see the return of the Red Arrows this coming August Bank Holiday weekend and are extremely grateful for the support and sponsorship of Tresco Island to help make it happen,” says David Jackson, Executive Director, Islands’ Partnership. “They certainly delivered the ‘wow’ factor at the end of last year’s Islands’ Regatta and it’s a great coup for the islands to see them return to perform once again.”

Whilst the Regatta is not set to return in its entirety until 2018, there will be a whole range of other fun events and entertainment to look forward to throughout this year’s Bank Holiday weekend, which this year falls within the school summer holidays.

Robert Dorrien-Smith, owner of Tresco Island, added: “Last year’s event was a true spectacle, bringing the islands together and really putting us on the map. The excitement across the islands was palpable and it was a real boon for Scilly. The display also delivered a very real economic boost for the islands, with businesses across Scilly saying there was a noticeable lift in trade at the end of the summer holidays.

“We hope this sponsorship – part of our wider commitment to the islands and their future – will bring great benefits to Scilly’s business community, and great pleasure to islanders and visitors alike.”

The Islands’ Partnership and Tresco Island are very grateful for the support of the Council of the Isles of Scilly and St. Mary’s Airport, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group and the Duchy of Cornwall for their support and cooperation.

Further details of the Red Arrows display and the weekend’s events will be published soon. To plan your visit, see www.visitislesofscilly.com or www.tresco.co.uk.
The Islands’ Partnership, has launched its Photography Competition for 2017 in partnership with St. Mary’s Hall Hotel Isles of Scilly Travel. The annual Isles of Scilly Photography Competition has grown to become a popular feature across the islands, attracting more than 2,500 entries over the past three years.

Last year’s winning photo, “Sky, Sea, Sand” by Carl Farran, together with the winning entries from 2014 and 2015 - “Puffin” by Steven Burbidge and Megan Gallacher’s “Tropical Oasis”, respectively - have all become iconic marketing images for the Isles of Scilly alongside many of those that were shortlisted in their categories.

The 2017 competition is open to all photographers living on, working on, or visiting the islands between 1st May and 30th September as well as, for one special category, visitors who have been coming to the islands for years and who care to share some distinctive photographic memories of Scilly.

The outright winner will win a three-night break for two on a Bed & Breakfast basis at St. Mary’s Hall Hotel on St. Mary’s, together with two return tickets on the Scillonian III passenger ferry courtesy of Isles of Scilly Travel.

The eight categories for the 2017 Isles of Scilly Photography Competition are: Dusk to Dawn; Historic Scilly; Island Life; Islands like nowhere else in England; Scilly Memories (old photos from yesteryear); Scilly on the Water; Taste of Scilly; and Wild Scilly.

With the Scillonian III celebrating 40 years of service this year and the Isles of Scilly Museum celebrating its 50th anniversary, the categories are designed to encourage photographers to capture those perfect moments of their Scilly experiences – whether it be photographing wild seabirds and dolphins accompanying the Scillonian III on its journey to and from the islands, capturing a piece of living (or past) Scillonian history, or simply shooting the perfect sunset over Samson.

Following the closure of the competition on 30th September, a short list of the best entries from each category will be selected by representatives of the Islands’ Partnership. These entries will then be displayed online via visitislesofscilly.com, and the general public invited to vote for their favourite images. The winner will be notified by email in November 2017.

“The annual Isles of Scilly Photography Competition is a great addition to our seasonal calendar and one that is enthusiastically anticipated by some visitors to the islands,” says David Jackson, Executive Director, Islands’ Partnership. “We look for photos that really do encapsulate the essence of Scilly and welcome photographers keen to showcase their talents in Visit Isles of Scilly’s marketing materials including the Visit Isles of Scilly Guide, our website and various promotional materials throughout the year. There is a lot to celebrate on the islands this year, which is why we’ve included the Scilly Memories category to encourage exhibits that capture those nostalgic family holidays and cherished moments on Scilly from yesteryear. We’re looking forward to some interesting sepia photos and Polaroids, or scans thereof, arriving in our office!

“And finally, of course, I would like to thank St. Mary’s Hall Hotel and Isles of Scilly Travel for their kind and generous donations for the winner’s prize.”

Further information about the competition and how to apply can be found on Visit Isles of Scilly.
Vital service will continue thanks to collaboration between Islands’ Partnership and the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust

The Islands’ Partnership, the destination management organisation for the Isles of Scilly, is delighted to announce that it is collaborating with the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust to ensure the islands’ vital Tourist Information Centre (TIC) remains open for the 2017 season.

The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust’s support of the TIC has been made possible by a modest legacy left to them by a long-standing visitor to the islands. The Board of Trustees felt it appropriate and fitting to allocate a proportion to the running of the TIC when it was announced that its future could be under threat due to a lack of funding. In return, the Trust will enjoy a regular presence at the TIC, showcasing its work and seeking to engage visitors with Scilly’s amazing landscapes and nature.

“The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust is delighted to be working with the Islands’ Partnership to keep the TIC open,” says Sarah Mason, Chief Executive, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust. “As the gateway to the islands, the TIC plays a crucial role to many visitors arriving on Scilly, signposting where they can go and what they can enjoy. The Trust also provides a vital role in their enjoyment and in the wider visitor economy, in particular maintaining and improving the islands’ landscapes, paths and beaches. This collaboration is therefore an excellent fit for us as we work to improve the visibility and understanding of Scilly’s unique environment and the work that the Trust does across the islands.”

“We are equally delighted that the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust has come forward to offer its support of Scilly’s visitor information services,” adds David Jackson, Executive Director, Islands’ Partnership. “The two organisations already have a close relationship – working together on events such as Walk Scilly and the Ötillö Swimrun World Series Qualifier – so it’s fantastic that the Trust has agreed to extend this by supporting our running of the TIC. They will undoubtedly add value to the fantastic service and invaluable advice, information and local knowledge our team already provide.”

“Thanks too to the Council’s continued licence to operate from Porthcressa Shelter, we’re now able to confidently look forward to another successful season,” he adds.

For the last two years, the TIC has been successfully operated by the Islands’ Partnership under contract to the Council of the Isles of Scilly which is set to end on 31st March. In the last year alone, the TIC welcomed over 45,000 visitors through its doors and fielded a further 7,500 enquiries via phone and email.
The Islands' Partnership is once again to host a week of bespoke support for all business owners, sole traders and budding entrepreneurs living and working across the islands who wish to immerse themselves ahead of the new season in how they can grow their trade profitably and operate efficiently. This year, Scilly Business Week, which takes place from Monday 6th March to Friday 10th March, is being supported by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub.

Scilly Business Week will include free-to-attend practical workshops and presentations across five days, covering a range of topics including finance forecasting, employment law, advances in social media and how to measure digital marketing performance, how to make your business website work harder, recruitment and training for service excellence, and data protection practicalities and compliance.

This year, the Scilly Business Week Programme also includes the launch of a new Food & Drink brand for Scilly (following a three-month project funded by DEFRA), and expert 1-2-1 advice from the food experts. We welcome Derek Thomas MP to Scilly Business Week who will host a business surgery and provide an update on the work he is doing to support rural and seasonal businesses, and Kim Conchie, Chief Executive of the Cornwall Chamber who Commerce, who is hosting a private Round Table with businesses across the islands to discuss topics common to both Cornwall and the islands – namely the cost of doing business for SMEs; Brexit, devolution and the merit of a South West Powerhouse effect; business confidence and VAT thresholds.

Chris Phillips, Senior Business Connector from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub will also attend for two days to offer the inside track to new and existing businesses who are looking for specific business support and or funding advice, whilst Amy Hiron and Kirsty Graham will be on hand with updated advice on Isles of Scilly Voucher Scheme funding. 

“Scilly Business Week is now well established on the Islands’ Partnership calendar and very much growing in stature, given the calibre of speakers we’ve attracted this year,” says Islands’ Partnership Executive Director, David Jackson, who will host a Business Networking Breakfast for IP members. “We’re delighted that experts in their fields are keen to impart their knowledge and skills to our business owners here on the islands, helping them to gain ever greater confidence in selling their products and delivering service excellence. We hope business owners in all industries – from retailers and restaurateurs, to artists and accommodation providers and, of course local producers and trade service providers – will see the value in attending Scilly Business Week workshops.”

“We’re very pleased to be supporting Scilly Business Week this year,” adds Chris Phillips Senior Business Connector for Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub. “It’s a great fit with the work that we do at the Growth Hub, connecting business owners and entrepreneurs with skilled advisors in order to for them to take advantage of the wealth of business expertise and funding opportunities that are out there. I’ll be supporting the programme by being on hand for two days offering business reviews for anyone who wants to get individual advice on any aspect of their business.”

All the sessions are free, with IP members given priority. Places on the more practical sessions are limited to 20 per session. Participants can book their places by calling the Islands’ Partnership office on 01720 424036 or emailing enquiries@islandspartnership.co.uk.  
Leading mainland suppliers from across Cornwall, the West Country and beyond have quickly snapped up the last exhibition spaces at this year’s Supply Scilly event, which takes place on Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd February.

The trade, hospitality and business services show, held to showcase mainland goods and services to businesses on Scilly looks set to be another success, with 23 suppliers attending and exhibiting at the show, which this year returns to Tregarthen’s Hotel.

With free entry for all, and the chance to win two return tickets to Lands’ End in a free prize draw for those who register their attendance, businesses on Scilly are encouraged to attend and take advantage of the great trade deals on offer. Exhibitors include many of the region’s leading catering suppliers and wholesalers who will be offering fantastic new product ranges and great service tailored to the Scillonian customer.

Supply Scilly is once again being organised by the Islands’ Partnership in collaboration with Tregarthen’s Hotel. David Jackson, Executive Director at the Islands’ Partnership says: “We’re delighted to be organising Supply Scilly again this year and to be hosting it back at Tregarthen’s Hotel. This has given us scope to attract an even greater number of suppliers, including some new ones for 2017. It’s a great pre-season event and a fantastic opportunity for businesses on Scilly to have dedicated access to many of the region’s leading suppliers. I’m sure that lots of good business will be done over the two days.”

Exhibitors include an exciting range of food and drinks suppliers, catering specialists, accommodation suppliers, as well as trade professionals, insurance brokers and business merchants. To see a full list of the exhibitors, go to the Supply Scilly website at www.supplyscilly.co.uk. For further information, just click on the links in the suppliers list.

Find Supply Scilly at Tregarthen’s Hotel, St Mary’s from 9.30am to 6pm on Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd February from 9.30am to 4pm.
Scilly picked up three gongs at last night's South West Tourism Awards, a glittering gala evening which took place at Bristol's Ashton Gate stadium, the home of Bristol Rugby and Bristol City.

Competing against tourism businesses throughout the region from the Isles of Scilly to Dorset to Gloucestershire, Hell Bay Hotel won Silver in Hotel of the Year award; there was another Silver for Teania St Martin's in the Self Catering Property of the Year, whilst Karma St. Martin's collected a Bronze in the Dog Friendly Business of the Year category.

"We're absolutely delighted for all three businesses; their awards are richly deserved," says David Jackson, Executive Director, Islands' Partnership. "This is the biggest presence that Scilly has ever had at the South West Tourism Awards, testimony to the islands' growing ability to compete on quality across the region. Congratulations to all of them. A great evening for Scilly."
As has been widely reported, at last Thursday’s Full Council meeting, Councillors voted to cease all financial support for the Islands’ Partnership and the Tourist Information Centre from the end of March.

Whilst we fully appreciate the Council’s financial position and have understood for some time that further savings would have to be found, we are naturally incredibly disappointed by this decision. Tourism is the lifeblood of these islands and a thriving and sustainable tourism industry is vital to Scilly’s future economic prosperity. Recognising these budget constraints, it was on this basis that the Islands’ Partnership has sought to actively engage with the Council over recent months to help identify suitable solutions going forward.

The range of options that we put forward were solely designed to find a pragmatic and more affordable way forward which would enable at least some form of core support for the IP and, more specifically, to find ways of safeguarding the continued operation of the Tourist Information Centre.

Sadly these options have either been ruled out by Officers, or voted against by Councillors. However disappointing this decision is, we have to accept it and the consequent impact this has on our own budget and activity.

Please be reassured that the Islands’ Partnership will continue to lead Scilly’s tourism agenda and champion its vital role in the future of the islands. Looking ahead, there are real grounds for optimism on a number of fronts and we remain determined to progress and deliver a number of significant initiatives:

  • Later this year we will be leading the development of the islands’ first Destination Management Plan, which will plot the course for the resurgence of Scilly’s visitor economy
  • We will continue to build on the legacy of last year’s Coastal Community Funded events programme, with another professional and ambitious calendar of events that help to drive new visitors to Scilly
  • We will lead the exciting new Cultural Destinations project which commences in April and will see a range of new cultural experiences developed that will help to attract a new audience to Scilly
  • We will be launching a new food and drink brand and identity for Scilly that recognises our fantastic producers, growers, fishermen and makers and celebrates the islands’ local food and drink story
  • And, last but by no means least, we will of course continue to lead the professional marketing of the Isles of Scilly, including our award winning brochure, website and wide-reaching promotional campaigns.

With regards to the Tourist Information Centre, we more than anyone understand the importance of this vital service to both our visitors and the local industry. Having won the contract, tendered by the Council, to deliver this service back in March 2015 (after an open and competitive procurement process) we have striven to provide the best possible service to our visitors, our members and the whole of the islands. We are incredibly proud of what the TIC team has achieved over these last 2 years and the recognition this has received – not least from the recent Cornwall Tourism Awards.

It is for this very reason that we are now actively exploring a number of options in an attempt to find a viable future for the service. We hope to be in a position to announce decisions on this in the coming weeks.

On behalf of Directors and the whole IP team, may I take this opportunity to thank all of our members for their continued support. We remain committed to delivering on your behalf and leading the continued recovery and growth of Scilly’s visitor economy and the future prosperity of the islands.

With kind regards David Jackson Executive Director Islands’ Partnership
The Islands' Partnership has today launched its biggest ever Walk Scilly festival programme which takes place 1st - 7th April 2017. Now in its 11 year, there are 29 walks from which to choose across the five inhabited islands and three of the uninhabited ones.

Each day from Saturday 1st to Friday 7th April, visitors - many of whom are likely to be first-timers to the islands - can choose from four or five whole and half day walks, and the programme has been arranged to make sure they can visit a different island a day, so as not to miss out on getting to see the whole archipelago.

All the walks are once again themed and will be led by experts in their field. Options include going foraging, strolling through sub-tropical gardens, taking a farm tour, beach combing for cowrie shells or simply walking each island Top to Toe. They will also be able to enjoy a sunset walk, immerse themselves in Scilly's maritime history; explore the uninhabited islands and get up close to our wildlife.

The Islands' Partnership Walk Scilly programme is being supported by the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, Isles of Scilly Travel, St. Mary's Boatmen's Association, Juliet's Restaurant & Bar and The Mermaid Inn. All the details of the Walk Scilly programme can be found on the Visit Isles of Scilly website.