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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