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A photo depicting a Scillonian farmer heading off to tend his fields in his vintage tractor on the island of St. Martin’s has scooped this year’s top prize in the annual Isles of Scilly Photography Competition, organised by the Islands' Partnership.

Mark Smith, an IT Manager for IBM who lives in Leicestershire, took the photo entitled “The Daily Commute” on his family holiday to the islands this summer. His photo was selected as the outright winner from 40 shortlisted photos from across eight categories after he polled 1,280 votes following a public vote online on www.visitislesofscilly.com. Mark wins a three-night break for two at St. Mary’s Hall Hotel and return travel on the Scillonian III, courtesy of Isles of Scilly Travel.

Mark, who has visited Scilly many times over the years, is a keen amateur photographer. “My mum first came to Scilly before she was married and I’ve been visiting the islands ever since I was a child. Now I bring my own children every two or three years for a family holiday, and despite being teenagers they still love Scilly and insist on coming with us,” says Mark.  

“We were visiting St. Martin’s this year, when this farmer came past on his old tractor. Back home, I have a friend who had just bought a vintage tractor, so really, I took some photos for him!  Anyway, we got talking, as you always do with locals on Scilly and then, as he drove off, I noticed the beautiful backdrop and couldn’t resist one final photo. I had to be persuaded to enter the photo competition and obviously, I am very glad I did.  My children will be envious of me and my wife sneaking a weekend away on Scilly without them!”

This year’s photography competition saw an unprecedented 1,350 entries, a record since the competition started back in 2014. “We’re always delighted that this annual competition creates a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from our visitors,” says David Jackson, Executive Director, Islands’ Partnership. “Importantly, from the IP's perspective, this competition really helps to augment Visit Isles of Scilly’s existing photographic library, with many featuring in our marketing materials. Mark’s photo, alongside a number of this year’s finalists will also feature in the forthcoming 2018 Isles of Scilly Guide.”

The Islands’ Partnership would like to thank Isles of Scilly Travel and St Mary’s Hall Hotel for their support with the competition.
The Isles of Scilly scooped five gongs at last night’s dazzling Cornwall Tourism Awards which once again took place at the Headland Hotel, Newquay.

Impressively, Hell Bay Hotel took Gold, for the fifth successive year, in the Small / Boutique Hotel of the Year category. The Islands’ Partnership (Visit Isles of Scilly) won Silver for the Islands’ Regatta in the Tourism/Festival of the Year category; there were a further two Silvers for Star Castle in the Restaurant Category and for Scilly Seal Snorkelling in the Active & Sporting Experience of the Year category; whilst Karma St. Martin’s took a Bronze Award in the Dog Friendly Business of the Year category.

Additionally for Scilly, although not represented on the night, Tregarthen’s Cottages, The Wheelhouse and Karma St. Martin’s were all Highly Commended in their respective categories: Self Catering Holiday Provider of the Year, Bed & Breakfast of the Year and Small / Boutique Hotel of the Year.

This year, there were 180 entries entering 26 different categories (including a new one for Guided Tours) – with standards once again taking a step up. The awards celebration was enhanced by a lovely presentation from Gold medal rowing winner and record holder Helen Glover, who ran, swam, and played tennis and hockey for Cornwall before becoming two-time Olympic champion.

“Scilly has once again enjoyed significant success at the Cornwall Tourism Awards as leading businesses across the islands continue to drive forward with a fantastic tourist offering,” says David Jackson, Executive Director, Islands’ Partnership (the Destination Management Organisation for the Isles of Scilly). “Hell Bay, in particular, should be congratulated on their fifth successive Gold, a truly impressive achievement in an ever more competitive category. Our continued success at these Awards should encourage more accommodation providers, attractions and experiences to enter next year and beyond. It was a great night for the islands and a superb way to wrap up another great season.”

Awards organiser Robin Barker added: “These awards are not about being good. They are about excellence in what is one of the world’s largest, fastest growing and most innovative industries. To be a winner, in a destination with the standing of Cornwall, is something winners should take great pride in.”

The successful finalists from Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly will be fast tracked into matching categories in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February 2018 and possibly invited to represent Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in the 2018 National VisitEngland Awards in April.

The full list of finalists can be found on the Cornwall Tourism Awards website.
Isles of Scilly Steamship Group Managing Director, Mark Howarth, has joined the board of directors at the Islands' Partnership, destination management organisation for the Isles of Scilly. He was voted onto the board, along with John Peacock owner of St. Agnes Boating, who was re-elected, at the Annual General Meeting last week. Mark replaces Rob Goldsmith who stepped down from the board at the end of the three-year tenure.

You can view the full list of IP Directors here. Presentations and reports from the AGM are available in the members' area of the IP website.
The shortlisted finalists in the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2017/18 have been announced and once again, the Isles of Scilly will be well represented at this year’s ceremony taking place at the Headland Hotel in Newquay, Cornwall on Thursday 2nd November.

This year, five Scilly businesses will be honoured with either Gold, Silver or Bronze Awards. They are:
  • Scilly Seal Snorkelling in the Active & Sporting Experience of the Year category
  • Karma St. Martin’s – in the Dog Friendly Business of the Year category
  • Star Castle in the Restaurant/Bistro of the Year category
  • Hell Bay Hotel – in the Small/Boutique Hotel of the Year category (for the fourth consecutive year)
  • Islands’ Regatta (Visit Isles of Scilly/Islands’ Partnership) – in the Tourism Event/Festival of the Year category
In addition, The Wheelhouse, Tregarthen’s Hotel & Cottages and Karma St. Martin’s were all Highly Commended in this year’s selection process in the B&B of the Year, Self-Catering Holiday Provider and Small/Boutique Hotel of the Year categories, respectively.

Hell Bay Hotel has been a finalist in the Small Hotel of the Year category for the last four years, scooping Gold in the last three years and going on to represent Scilly at both the regional South West Tourism Awards and nationally at the VisitEngland Awards. Scilly Seal Snorkelling, Karma and Star Castle are also previous Cornwall Tourism Award finalists.

The Islands’ Partnership was again instrumental this year in encouraging members to take part in the Awards, and in assisting those businesses who came forward to write their bids. All businesses who submit applications benefit from receiving the judges’ reports and recommendations following the extensive three-stage judging process.

“We’re delighted for all the businesses on Scilly who have been named finalists and who have been Highly Commended at this year’s awards,” says David Jackson, Executive Director, Islands’ Partnership. “Every year, the judging gets tougher as visitors’ expectations increase, so it is great to see that Scilly remains competitive with the rest of Cornwall. We are particularly pleased to see that the Islands’ Regatta, a real showcase event last year that delivered a fantastic boost to Scilly’s visitor economy, has been recognised,” he adds. “We wish all five of our finalists the very best of luck on the 2nd November; let's hope it's another great night for Scilly.”

Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism who runs the awards programme comments: “Yet again, the Isles of Scilly have performed well in the judging process this year. With five finalists and three Highly Commended businesses, we are really seeing an increase in quality from the leading tourism businesses on the islands. All concerned are to be warmly congratulated.”  Successful businesses in the Cornwall Awards will be fast tracked into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February 2017 and possibly invited to represent Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in the 2016/2017 National VisitEngland Awards.
The Islands' Partnership, together with Oxford Innovation and Superfast Business Cornwall, is offering three workshops for businesses across Scilly this September. Businesses across the islands are invited to sign up and enjoy the fully-funded training all of which is designed to help them operate more efficiently and profitably.

On 20th and 21st September, Oxford Innovation will be offering Business Planning and Retail workshops, respectively, whilst the following week on 26th and 27th September, digital business analysts from Superfast Business Cornwall will be on island to deliver and extensive Technology for Business to help SMEs get to grips with the technology that's out there and how they can put to great use very easily - to increase sales, exceed customers' expectations and keep their operating costs down.

Any businesses are eligible to sign up - they just need to book their places by calling the Islands' Partnership on 01720 424036 or emailing enquiries@islandspartnership.co.uk

The details are:

BUSINESS PLANNING WORKSHOP Wednesday 20th September, 10.30am – 1pm Tregarthen’s Hotel Conservatory

The 2017 season may well be winding down, but now is just the time to assess how well it went and plan for 2018 and beyond. Did you make your target sales? Were all your customers happy? Did you deliver on your promises? Did you set business goals - and achieve them? Did your new ideas pan out as expected? What might you do differently next year, and beyond? Step out of your day-to-day business churn and join Peter Turpie, business strategy coach at Oxford Innovation on Wednesday 20th September for a morning's workshop to think about, and plan for, your business's future. He'll talk you through a simple framework that you help you consider what you really want out of your business and how you can achieve your ambitions. Afternoon one-to-ones with Peter will be available to all attendees who sign up and attend the workshop.

RETAIL WORKSHOP Thursday 21st September 10.30am - 12.30pm Tregarthen’s Hotel Conservatory

Calling all Scilly retailers! Whether you sell gifts, artwork, fashion, food or stamps, this workshop is for you. Hosted by retail coaches, Luis Gordon and Lynda Clark from Oxford Innovation, it will focus on multi-channel retailing and the changing world of the high street. Get great tips on how to satisfy customers’ increasingly demanding expectations (for locals and visitors), make online shopping and mail-order work harder for you, and discuss ways in which you, as retailers, can work together as a community to optimise opportunities. The workshop will also look at examples of good and bad shop fronts and customer experiences (but not ones from Scilly!). One-to-one sessions will also be available on request to all attendees.

TECHNOLOGY FOR BUSINESS WORKSHOP Tuesday and Wednesday 26th & 27th September (9.30am - 4pm) Lifelong Learning, St. Mary's

This is a two-day workshop hosted by Superfast Broadband Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly and funded by the European Regional Development Fund. It is open to new businesses that started trading in the last 12 months or those who have the ambition to grow and sell their product or service outside of Cornwall in the near future. (Other restrictions apply, such as no accommodation providers or fishing/farming businesses.) The practical and jargon-free workshop looks at digital technologies that businesses can adopt and exploit to help them to be more productive and efficient as well as help them grow. One to ones are also available from Digital Business Analysts throughout the two days on Scilly.
The Islands' Partnership has launched the programme for this year's Walk Scilly Weekend 2017, taking place from 12th to 16th October. 

Covering five of the inhabited islands plus Tean, there will be a total of 19 guided walks and a boat trip, all themed to show off the islands during the autumn months and encourage visitors to the islands later on in the year. Highlights include a Dark Skies walk on St. Martin's to raise funds for the planned new Observatory, two foraging walks, including one with a special feast at Karma St. Martin's and the ever-popular island Top to Toes as well as plenty of opportunity to turn detective and seek out bats, birds, butterflies and bees! For those in need of resting their weary legs, there will be a special boat safari to the Western Rocks to check out the seabirds and seals (often seen with their pups at this time of year.)

"Autumn is a very special time of year on Scilly and it's great that we host this event to help extend the season for visitors and businesses well into October," says David Jackson, Executive Director of the Islands' Partnership, says: “The wildlife is spectacular  in October, with resident and migrating birds to spot, seal pups to catch sight of, and Scilly bees and bats to seek out. The hedgerows and rock pools are fantastic for foraging, too."

Check out the full programme on VisitIslesofScilly.com/WalkScilly
The Isles of Scilly will provide a spectacular backdrop to a display by the legendary Red Arrows when they take to the skies this August Bank Holiday Monday. It’s a rapid return to the islands for the aerobatic team following their performance on the same day a year ago.

Visitors and Scillonians alike will be in position on the islands’ numerous vantage points, when the scarlet Royal Air Force Hawk jets arrive at 3pm to begin their trademark exhibition of heart-in-the-mouth precision flying.

Holgate’s Green on St. Mary’s will provide the focus for the day’s events on the ground. From there, Squadron Leader Mike Ling MBE, Red 10, will broadcast a live commentary on the 25-minute display. Cornwall’s comedy legend Kernow King will be warming up spectators before the Red Arrows’ arrival and taking to the stage for an exclusive live show from 5.45pm. The crowd will also be treated to a programme of live music, a hog roast BBQ, an outside bar and food and craft stalls, from 12.30pm.

Across the water, Tresco Island will be hosting a ‘Great British Picnic’ on Bathinghouse Porth, which will be set out with picnic blankets and beach parasols.

The display is organised by the Islands’ Partnership and sponsored by Tresco Island as part of its wider commitment to the islands. David Jackson, Executive Director of the Islands' Partnership, said: “We’re thrilled to see the return of the Red Arrows to Scilly this Bank Holiday Monday, following the success of last year’s breathtaking performance. We’re looking forward to the same buzz of anticipation across the islands this time around. We’re also delighted to welcome back Kernow King, who will be topping off the weekend’s excitement.”

Tom Matthews from Tresco Island said: “After last year’s display we had so much wonderful feedback from visitors and local businesses that we jumped at the opportunity to sponsor the return of the Red Arrows for 2017. Visitors loved the thrill of seeing this world famous aerobatic team over our beautiful islands, while local businesses credited the display with providing a very real economic boost in the last few days of the summer holidays. As part of our commitment to making a positive impact on the islands, we’re proud to join with the Islands’ Partnership to make the return of the Red Arrows possible. We look forward to celebrating with the rest of Scilly this weekend.”

As a curtain-raiser, Sunday afternoon and evening will see a fun, family sports and music festival at the Garrison Field on St. Mary’s, with local bands, a bar, BBQ and stalls, 5-a-side football, rugby 7s and a tennis tournament.

Hot on the heels of the Red Arrows’ appearance is the Taste of Scilly food festival, a month-long celebration running throughout September of the very best in food, drink and produce from across the five inhabited islands.

Taste of Scilly, the annual food festival that is laid on by the Islands' Partnership, is back in September with another month-long celebration of the very best in food, drink and produce from across the five inhabited islands.

The Taste of Scilly programme, just released online on our visitislesofscilly.com website, is packed with events sharing the unique low-food miles, slow-food culture of the famously unspoilt archipelago. Throughout September, there’s a fresh foodie experience to savour every day, from lobster feasts to Scillonian produce markets, from beach barbecues to pasty-making workshops, from evening supper boats to Taste of Scilly cocktails and cream teas.

Following the success of last year’s inaugural festival, local bakers, brewers, chefs, farmers, fishermen and food and drink producers will come together again to share their stories, passions and creativity. There’ll be tours of small working farms, with farmers and their families showcasing their produce, and revealing what it takes to build a successful artisan food business on the islands. Local chefs will demonstrate how to bake the perfect scone, make a mouthwatering pasty, and pick and preserve herbs. There’ll be wine tastings at Scilly’s two vineyards, and tours of micro-brewery Ales of Scilly.

The festival programme also includes: food pop-ups in well-chosen spots around Tresco; sizzling Scilly beach barbecues at Karma St. Martin’s; prosecco brunches at Tanglewood Kitchen; and lobster nights at the new Longstone Cafe on St. Mary’s. Plus, the Star Castle Hotel and Juliet’s Garden Restaurant & Bar will be hosting special five-course tasting dinners.

On Bryher, there will be paella takeaways from Island Fish, and Bryher crab, mussels and scallops served in Portuguese cataplanas at seasonal pop-up the Crab Shack. Visitors can also sample the best of the island’s locally-produced food at the Bryher Food Festival, including hot lobster, paella and pulled pork, and homemade jam, fudge and cakes. 

And on St. Martin's the Seven Stones Inn will showcase drinks produced across the islands at its three-day Beer, Cider, Gin and Rum Festival, with a Taste of Scilly menu to match.

David Jackson, Executive Director of the Islands' Partnership, says: “We’re really looking forward to our second Taste of Scilly festival. On Scilly you’re never far from fresh produce and refreshment: freshly-caught seafood, farm-grown vegetables, homemade ice cream and fudge, and the islands’ own wine and beer. In September, we’ll be celebrating all of the good things that are produced, reared and prepared here, as well as our most distinctive eateries.”
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".