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The Islands’ Partnership, is delighted to announce the launch of Scilly’s official Photography Competition for 2018, this year in partnership with Karma St. Martin’s Hotel. This year’s competition is open to all photographers living on, working on, or visiting the islands and is open to entries from this Easter weekend.

The annual Isles of Scilly Photography Competition continues to be a hugely popular feature across the islands, attracting nearly 4,000 entries over the past four years.  Last year was our biggest to date, with 1,350 photos submitted.  And the winning photos from the previous competitions - Mark Smith’s “The Daily Commute” (2017); “Sky, Sea, Sand” by Carl Farran (2016), Megan Gallacher’s “Tropical Oasis” (2015) and “Puffin” by Steven Burbidge (2014) - have all become iconic marketing images for the Isles of Scilly alongside many of those that were shortlisted in their categories.

The outright winner will win a three-night break for two on a Bed & Breakfast basis at Karma St. Martin’s, dinner for two at Karma St. Martin’s on one of the evenings, and two return tickets to Scilly (flights or passenger ferry) from Penzance or Lands’ End.

The eight categories for the 2018 Isles of Scilly Photography Competition are: An island playground; Creative Scilly; Escape to Scilly; Islands at Work; Natural Scilly; Our History & Heritage; Secret Scilly; and Taste of Scilly.

“With the launch of our Creative Islands project this year, we are particularly keen for budding photographers to explore Scilly’s rich cultural and artistic heritage.  We know too, that so many people come to Scilly to escape the hustle and bustle of modern-day living which is why we’re also looking to capture those perfect moments of wellbeing and island escapism,” says David Jackson, Executive Director, Islands’ Partnership (Visit Isles of Scilly).

“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,” he adds. “We’ll be looking 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.

“And finally, of course, I would like to thank Karma St. Martin’s for their kind and generous winner’s prize.”

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 2018.

For further information about the competition and how to apply, visit our special website page: visitislesofscilly.com/photographycompetition
Industry leaders gather as part of English Tourism Week to show support for one of the country’s most tourism-dependent destinations   The Isles of Scilly today launches a bold new long-term plan for its vital tourism industry. The forward-looking Destination Management Plan sets out a new vision and a shared approach to help revitalise what is the islands’ principal industry, supporting around 85% of all employment.

The Plan has been developed by the Islands’ Partnership, the lead body for tourism and business on Scilly and has been supported by all of the islands’ major stakeholders and funded by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.

Alongside new investment in transport, quality and service, the plan calls for a stronger emphasis on its hidden cultural heritage, its potential as an eco-destination as well as the need for increased collaboration to help extend Scilly’s comparatively short tourist season.

James Berresford, Chairman of the Islands’ Partnership: “As a destination, the Isles of Scilly is blessed with some of the most outstanding natural assets of anywhere in the UK. We have a wonderful opportunity to harness these assets in a way that repositions the islands as the escape destination, meeting the growing demand for discerning, authentic, experience-led tourism. The Destination Management Plan will be instrumental in bringing the islands together behind this shared ambition, helping to ensure our industry is both sustainable and fit for the future."

David Jackson, Executive Director of the Islands’ Partnership added: “Today’s launch marks a really significant moment for the islands. The Destination Management Plan, alongside the emerging Smart Islands programme and a new Local Plan, represents a genuinely exciting opportunity to trigger a real step-change in our industry and for Scilly to become a truly sustainable destination that’s economically resilient yet protective of its precious environment and unique sense of place.”

Tim Bagshaw, Head of Operations at the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Tourism is one of the region’s priority sectors and has been recognised as such in our 10 Opportunities prospectus. For the Isles of Scilly in particular, there’s real potential for Scilly’s tourism industry to grow and become more competitive and we’re confident that the new Destination Management Plan will be a vital mechanism to help drive this growth.”

The launch event for the new Destination Management Plan was held this afternoon at Tregarthen’s Hotel on St. Mary’s and brought together many of the islands’ leading tourism businesses, coinciding with the national English Tourism Week.

You can download and read the Destination Management Plan here.  (This is a compressed file.  If you'd like a hard copy you can request one from the Islands' Partnership office.)
The Islands' Partnership is delighted to report the busiest ever Scilly Business Week, with more than 200 participant slots snapped up across the week. There were more than a dozen sessions in total – ranging from workshops about online book-ability and Food Hygiene & Safety to how businesses can engage with and benefit from Plastic Free Scilly and how to prepare for the new General Data Protection Regulations that come into force in May.

We were also delighted to welcome to Scilly, Donna Kehoe, South West agent for the Bank of England who hosted a round-table, and Tim Bagshaw from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership who delivered a keynote session on the recently published 10 Opportunities prospectus for Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly.

And there was also plenty of opportunities to chat to the business and finance experts one-to-one as well as to network with fellow businesses across the islands at lunches hosted by the Islands’ Partnership, Smart Islands and by our generous sponsors, the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth & Skills Hub.  Businesses on the islands also showcased new products they are introducing this year, including a new mobile booking app for St. Agnes Boating, extended premises and new product lines and premises at Island Fish and the opening in May of Longstone Lodge, a new style of accommodation for Scilly.

“I enjoyed the Smart Islands panel session and hearing the panel's 'on the spot' responses to the questions posed,” says Sarah Poat of Polreath Tea Rooms & Guesthouse. “The subsequent workshop buzzed. Everyone had plenty to say and lots of ideas and the panel members facilitating each group had to work hard to keep us on task!  I also thought the Plastic Free Scilly session was great. If our combined interest and support can instigate change then fantastic. Whilst we banished single-use plastics from our daily routines at Polreath a number of years ago now, Nikki Banfield, from the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust provided us with lots of fascinating facts, figures and ideas as to how we can reduce our reliance on plastic even more and encourage others to do the same.”

Anna Cawthray from Scilly Seal Snorkelling agrees: “The Plastic Free Scilly session was thought provoking with useful advice on ways to reduce single-use plastic. There seemed that there was a lot of enthusiasm in the room to make changes and hopefully that can be capitalised on to help preserve our stunning natural environment. The social media presentation was highly entertaining with useful exercises that helped you focus on who your customers are and how to reach them,” she adds. “The information about Search Engine Optimisation was especially useful and I have used the website recommended on the course to review my own website and make improvements accordingly.  It's always good to meet with other businesses before the season starts to find out what's new and to realise that you might not be the only one who's not quite fully prepared yet!” 

Kirsty Graham, from the Isles of Scilly Voucher Scheme summed up: “I really enjoyed Scilly Business Week this year. It feels like it is really gathering momentum”; whilst Nick Benatar, General Manager of Tregarthen’s Hotel, which hosted most of the week, was keen thank his staff and the Islands’ Partnership, as well as the speakers for putting on such a successful week. 

“There was a great atmosphere to this year’s Scilly Business Week and lots of enthusiasm for the workshops and presentations taking place. It’s a great opener for the new season,” says Chris Phillips, Business Connector for the CIOS Growth Hub. “We’re delighted to have supported this event again this year. Connecting business owners and entrepreneurs with the right support, funding and training opportunities to help them work smarter and grow is what the Growth Hub is all about, so it’s a great fit for us. Anyone looking for a helping hand for their business can get in touch any time.”

“There was a strong business presence at this year’s Scilly Business Week, with a great range of topics discussed and debated,” adds David Jackson, Islands’ Partnership Executive Director. “The anecdotal feedback we’ve received has been really positive, with many saying it was the best yet. Nonetheless, we are currently carrying out a Scilly Business Week survey that will help us gauge levels of satisfaction as well as ensure we keep topics relevant in the future. I would like to thank Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth & Skills Hub for their generous support and in helping us to make Scilly Business Week a great success.”
Leading mainland suppliers from across Cornwall, the West Country and beyond are beginning to arrive on St. Mary’s today and are setting up their exhibition stands ahead of this year’s Supply Scilly event, which takes place tomorrow, Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd 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 25 suppliers, the biggest number ever, attending and exhibiting at the show, which this year is once again hosted by Tregarthen’s Hotel.

With free entry for all, businesses on Scilly are encouraged to attend and take advantage of the great trade deals – and tastings - on offer. Exhibitors include many of the region’s leading catering suppliers and wholesalers who will be offering fantastic new product ranges and great services tailored to the Scillonian customer.

Supply Scilly has 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 with the support of Tregarthen’s Hotel. After last year’s fog-bound event, it’s great that the sun is shining on us this year and all the exhibitors have arrived. This pre-season event is 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 next two days.”

Exhibitors include an exciting range of food and drinks suppliers, catering specialists, accommodation suppliers, as well as IT and 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 9am to 5pm on Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd February from 9am to 4pm.

As many of you will know, over the last few months, the Islands' Partnership has been leading the process of developing the islands' first Destination Management Plan.
Recognising the fundamental importance of tourism to these islands, this Destination Management Plan will set out a new vision and a renewed sense of direction for the future of Scilly's visitor economy.
It's a bold plan, with fresh thinking and ambition around what our tourism industry - so critical to these islands - could become. 
However, it is a plan that relies on collaboration and a shared commitment from everyone to play their part. It's all the more vital therefore that we get your input and that of the islands' business community, into this process.
We would therefore encourage as many people as possible to attend one of the following consultation workshops taking place across the islands over the next couple of weeks. This is your opportunity to have your say on a plan that will shape the future of the islands' tourism industry.
Destination Management Plan - Consultation Workshops
Tuesday 20th February 10.30am - 11.30am  St. Agnes Island Hall
Thursday 22nd February 5pm - 6.30pm  Wesleyan Chapel, St. Mary's
Friday 23rd February 10am - 11am   Bryher Community Hall
Friday 23rd February 2pm - 3pm   St. Martin's Island Hall
Monday 26th February 2pm - 3pm   Tresco (venue TBC)
At each workshop, the IP team will be presenting the latest thinking from the plan followed by Q&A and an opportunity for open discussion and your own input.
We look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible.
The Islands' Partnership is delighted to announce the programme for this year’s Scilly Business Week which is taking place 5th – 9th March. It promises to be another packed week of expert advice, networking and essential workshops for business operators across the islands.

The week-long series of events are all designed to enhance the productivity, efficiencies and profitability of businesses operating across the islands.  For the second consecutive year, the Islands’ Partnerships is also delighted to be supported by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth & Skills Hub, who help businesses access the right support and training opportunities to improve develop and grow.

Hot topics this year include getting ready for the new GDPR Regulation that comes into force in May, which will affect nearly every business on the islands; the inside track and benefits of online book-ability, including forthcoming plans for the VisitIslesofScilly.com website; the need to embrace digital tools to maximise business productivity; digital marketing and social media updates, and sessions on how the islands’ businesses and our economy can benefit from the Smart Islands programme and also become a Plastic Free Scilly.                          

We are also honoured this year to welcome Donna Kehoe from the Bank of England who will be hosting a Business Leaders’ Round Table discussion as well as open-to-all networking event so that she can meet as many of the local business operators as possible; and Tim Bagshaw from Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership who will be delivering a keynote session on the recently published 10 Opportunities for Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly prospectus which sets out the region’s ‘21st Century’ pitch to government and business for future, post-Brexit investment.

The week will culminate with an Islands’ Partnership members’ forum and business showcase where it will set out its plans for 2018. This will include an update on the forthcoming Destination Management Plan which sets out a new roadmap for tourism on Scilly, further details on ‘Creative Islands’, our Cultural Destinations Project, and an opportunity for businesses themselves to showcase their own developments and new openings for 2018. This will be followed by a special Taste of Scilly networking lunch, displaying some of Scilly’s excellent food and drink produced across the islands.

Chris Phillips, Senior Business Connector from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub, Trish Peacock, Skills Connector from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Skills Hub, plus advisors from Cultivator Cornwall, Superfast Business Cornwall, Oxford Innovation, Access to Finance, Unlocking Potential, Isles of Scilly Voucher Scheme and Newquay for Excellence will also be on hand throughout the week to offer private one-to-one sessions who are looking for specific business support and/or funding advice. 

“Scilly Business Week is now well established on the Islands’ Partnership calendar and continues to grow in stature year-on-year,” says David Jackson, Islands’ Partnership Executive Director. “We’re delighted this year to welcome speakers from the Bank of England and Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership who, alongside a raft of business experts in their field, make up a really compelling programme for our business community.  We hope that business owners from across the islands and all industry sectors will see the value in the superb range of workshops on offer at this year’s Scilly Business Week and would encourage them to sign-up while places are still available.”

“We’re very pleased once again to be supporting Scilly Business Week this year,” adds Stu Anderson, Operations Director for Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub & Skills Hub. “It’s a great fit with the work that we do at the Growth & Skills Hub, connecting business owners and entrepreneurs with the right support, funding and training opportunities to help them work smarter and grow in a way that is right for them.”

All the sessions are free (except the GDPR workshop which is subsidised). IP members are given priority bookings. Participants can book their places by calling the Islands’ Partnership office on 01720 620601 or emailing enquiries@islandspartnership.co.uk.

The full programme can be viewed on our dedicated Scilly Business Week page.
Following the Isles of Scilly outstanding success at last November’s Cornwall Tourism Awards, this tiny archipelago of just 2,200 people has once again punched well above its weight the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

Last night, on 1st February, at a spectacular awards ceremony in Torquay’s Riviera International Conference Centre, Hell Bay Hotel on Bryher picked up the GOLD gong for Best Small/Boutique Hotel of the Year (for the second time in three years), whilst Star Castle scooped a BRONZE award for Best Bistro/Restaurant of the Year, ranked alongside renowned eateries, Menu Gordon Jones in Bath and Dorset’s Guildhall Tavern.  Scilly Seal Snorkelling, based on St. Martin’s also won a BRONZE award in the Active & Sporting Experience category.

The South West is England’s Top Tourism Region and this year’s awards saw a record 645 entries. The Awards team of 40+ judges then undertook a record 416 visits to entrants before the independent South West awards panel made their decisions.

Hotel owner and lobster fisherman, Robert Francis commented: “The restaurant had a fantastic end to 2017 with our silver Cornwall Tourism Award. To go one further and be recognised for our contribution to the wider South West’s food offerings is the perfect way to start 2018.  This award wouldn’t have been possible without the passion and dedication of every member of our team and so we thank them wholeheartedly and look forward to another great year ahead.”

Anna Cawthray, owner of Scilly Seal Snorkelling also thanked her team: “I am delighted that all their hard work has been recognised. Here’s to another great season for Scilly Seal Snorkelling.”

And Philip Callan, General Manager of Hell Bay Hotel added: “We are absolutely delighted to have received the Gold Award at this year's South West Tourism Awards. We were up against some very tough opposition across the region so this is a fantastic achievement for Hell Bay Hotel and for all the dedicated staff who make it such a lovely place for our guests to come and stay. Congratulations to all the award winners, especially our fellow Scilly representatives - what a showcase for the islands!”

“The South West Tourism Awards was a truly impressive evening for the Isles of Scilly – winning three honours for the islands amongst hundreds of businesses across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Bristol, Bath and Somerset,” noted David Jackson, Executive Director, Islands’ Partnership (the Destination Management Organisation for the Isles of Scilly). “We are thrilled that the leading businesses across the islands continue to drive our visitor economy forward with a fantastic tourist offering. We hope this marks the start to a great season across the islands.”

The full list of finalists can be found on the South West Tourism Awards website.
Tickets for the 2018 Walk Scilly have today gone on sale. The much-anticipated walking festival is now in its 12th year and for the first time this year, it has been extended to 11 days and 37 walks. It takes place between 4th and 14th April.

Last year, a great many of the walks were sold out ahead of the festival getting underway, with more being added last minute, so this year, the Islands' Partnership team resolved to broaden the event, particularly as it takes place during the Easter holidays, thanks to an early Easter.

As usual, the Walk Scilly event will showcase the islands’ amazing scenery, wildlife and cultural heritage through a series of rambles, hikes and strolls, with expert local guides bringing the treasures and hidden gems of each island to life. New walks for this year include an energetic hike around the entire coastline of St. Mary’s, and a fast-paced walk on St. Martin’s out to the iconic red and white Daymark, with breathtaking ocean views.

There’s a sunrise stroll to a spiritual spot with a guided meditation, a sensory amble around St. Agnes introducing island sounds and experiences, and a stargazing walk on St. Martin’s, the perfect place to look up into unpolluted darkness and marvel at the Milky Way, planets and stars.

Families with young children will be able to celebrate the delightful story of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch by Ronda Armitage, complete with mini-quests and a picnic lunch. Michael Morpurgo fans can follow in his footsteps across Bryher, finishing at a new mini-Morpurgo exhibition in the island’s red phone box, and walks on St. Mary’s will let families delve into Scilly’s fascinating rockpools and turn bat detective using their very own bat detector kit.

All this, plus old favourites such as uninhabited island adventures, food foraging forays, farm walks, sea safaris, wildlife discovery tours, beachcombing, top-to-toe rambles across all five inhabited islands and an insiders’ stroll around Tresco Abbey Garden.

David Jackson, Executive Director of the Islands' Partnership, says: “There’s no stopping Walk Scilly. It’s our 12th and biggest festival yet, and a fantastic way to kickstart the 2018 season. All of the walks are distinctly Scillonian, but each one shows a different side of island life - and there’s something for everyone this year, young and old.”

There’s also an evening programme including a welcome party at the Mermaid Inn, acoustic folk nights at the Bishop & Wolf, a special evening at the Isles of Scilly Museum and a series of history and wildlife talks.

To book your walks, phone 01720 424036 or email events@visitislesofscilly.com. For the full festival programme and to find out more, go to www.visitislesofscilly.com/walkscilly.
The Islands’ Partnership, the destination management organisation for the Isles of Scilly, is delighted to reveal its official Islands Guide for 2018. The much anticipated, 124-page annual brochure is available to read and download online from today, while printed copies will be available from the end of the week.

Once again, the 2018 Guide has a high quality feel with stunning photography and engaging editorial from the likes of TV presenter Kate Humble and Lonely Planet’s James Kay. This year, one of the main themes for the Guide is “Treasure Islands”, drawing on Scilly’s distinctive, but often hidden, culture and  heritage – from its isolated location, resourceful community and long association with the sea, right through to its more familiar role today as a source of inspiration and enjoyment to so many.

In addition, the 2018 Guide continues the popular #myScilly series which introduces readers to some of the islands’ local characters and what they love most about the islands. It also takes a closer look at the islands’ thriving food and drink scene – from the perspective of the growers and producers; local tour guides tell of their favourite walks around Scilly; adventure journalists Jen and Sim Benson, retell their tales of their fantastic time on Scilly with their two small children, whilst the Island Garden feature reveals more about how the islands are a true living landscape. 

The Guide also includes the usual island highlights – including the spirit of each of the inhabited islands and suggestions on what to do and where to go when visiting. There are also details on how to get to Scilly, how to get around once you’ve arrived, as well as more than 40 pages of accommodation options.

“In recent years, the Isles of Scilly Guide has been widely regarded as one of best destination guides in the country which is something we’re incredibly proud of and naturally keen to see continue,” says David Jackson, Islands’ Partnership Executive Director. “Every year we strive to produce a guide that comes close to doing justice to what a truly special place Scilly really is. With another original and distinctive cover this year, coupled with its inspiring content of authentic island experiences and compelling reasons to visit, I’m sure that the 2018 Guide will be another huge success.”

The Islands’ Partnership produces 30,000 printed copies of the Isles of Scilly Guide every year, which is distributed nationwide.  It is also read by thousands more online. In 2017 over 40% of visitors said they had used or consulted the Guide when planning their visit (Isles of Scilly Visitor Survey, 2017).

Printed copies of the 2018 Guide can be ordered via visitislesofscilly.com/get-our-guide, or it can be read/ downloaded on ISSUU: https://issuu.com/simplyscilly/docs/isles_of_scilly_2018_islands_guide  
This week, the UK Government published its Industrial Strategy setting out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK.

One could be forgiven for questioning how much direct relevance or impact this may have on Scilly. Well, you might be surprised to hear that the answer to this is, quite a lot. In fact, Scilly – and our Smart Islands initiative – is highlighted in the Strategy as a direct case study of investment in the UK’s energy infrastructure and innovation towards a low carbon economy.

Of direct relevance too is the fact that Tourism – so often overlooked, or disregarded as a low wage, low value industry – is recognised and listed as one of the UK’s eight main industry sectors, giving hope that the tourism industry’s collective efforts to put forward a proposal for more support and investment – a so called, ‘Sector Deal’, could be successful.

This bid for a Tourism Sector Deal is being led by the Tourism Industry Council, a group set up to collaborate between Government and the tourism industry and facilitated by VisitBritain/VisitEngland. In September, it signed off on the following priorities: 
  • A 10-year tourism and hospitality skills campaign to boost recruitment, skills and long-term careers; 
  • Boosting productivity by extending the tourism season year-round, and encouraging more business and event tourism;
  • Improving connections to increase international visitor numbers, and make it easier for them (and domestic tourists) to travel not only to the UK but also explore more of it; 
  • Creating ‘tourism zones’ to improve the visitor experience through better quality tourism products, a longer tourism season and improved localised transport.

These priorities draw many parallels with Scilly and our own work in producing a Destination Management Plan (DMP) for the islands which, when published in early 2018, will set out a new strategic vision and direction for Scilly’s visitor economy and a roadmap for our industry.

Scilly is heavily reliant on the tourism sector yet, alongside Cornwall, has one of the lowest productivity levels anywhere in the UK. Connectivity, as we all know, is challenging too, given our location as the last outpost of England. And our lack of digital capability on the islands, in particular with respect to online bookability and distribution is now having an adverse effect on our ability to compete on a level playing field.

The DMP will seek to address many of these issues: a digital transformation programme and a cultural programme for Scilly are both in the pipeline for 2018, whilst we’ll also continue to work in partnership with organisations across the islands and beyond on vital programmes including the Smart Islands Partnership, improvements in our transport system and support and skills development for our business community.