The Islands’ Partnership is celebrating a second consecutive year of increased visitor numbers to the islands. David Jackson, Executive Director of the Islands’ Partnership says that the 9% increase in visitors coming to Scilly in 2015 is a strong indication of the recovering visitor market, especially building on the 6% increase in 2014. However, he warns against complacency with Scilly still needing to “up its game” in order to compete with other destinations, particularly amongst new visitors to the islands.
“The work undertaken by the Islands’ Partnership, which is wholly supported by annual membership from Scilly (and Scilly-related) businesses, is clearly bearing fruit,” says David. “The team has worked hard to deliver a highly desirable brochure, coming into its third year, and our new award-winning website, visitislesofscilly.com which continues to perform strongly. This year to date, visitislessfscilly.com has enjoyed a 28% increase in traffic – with more than 540,000 visits. Of note are the July figures when the website recorded its highest traffic in one month – 76,105 visits in total,” he continues. “The website is at the core of our marketing activities, generating excitement to visit the islands as well as many bookings,” says David. “Our email marketing, the competitions, the events, the tourism awards, the social media, the press trips and PR activity are all geared to drive website traffic.”
“Although Scilly is clearly benefiting from our work, it’s essential that we do not become complacent,” warns David. “There is still much to be done to ensure that Scilly is an attractive destination for new visitors. In this respect, we will continue to improve the on-island visitor experience, transport links and length of season through the development of new products and joint initiatives with our partners. Next season, for example, we will introduce a much-needed on-island pocket map and guide to Scilly, whilst our new events programme is designed to attract visitors at times when traditionally, we have experienced dips in numbers. Our cruise ship offering – vital in encouraging first time Scilly visitors to return for a longer break – will also be enhanced further.”
The Islands’ Partnership will also continue to provide mentoring, training and business development support to our members – a valued element to our membership, as The Dairy Café owner, Yve Peck explains: “As a newcomer to Scilly, I have been grateful for the support I’ve received from IP and have benefitted enormously from the excellent business advice and training they provide,” she says. “My membership fee constitutes good value. The IP’s marketing efforts raise the profile of the islands as a whole, and this has definitely had a positive impact on local businesses, including my own.”
Nick Christopher Smith from Westwinds Car Park at Land’s End is also grateful for the membership support, recently tweeting: “A massive thank you for all the work and support we’ve had in our first year. We look forward to being an IP member in 2016. #Success!”
Zoe Julian from Scilly Flowers on St. Martin’s concurs: “IP’s coordinated and professional approach to marketing the islands has really raised the profile of Scilly. We’re not a front-line tourism business, but we’ve enjoyed increased footfall to our farm. Anecdotally, it seems there are more visitors who are enjoying discovering the islands for the first time, too. Even though the majority of our customers have not visited Scilly (yet!), it is really important to our business that the Islands are marketed effectively so that the Isles of Scilly brand is associated with a positive image,” she says. “With such a small business population, and every one of them reliant on tourism, directly or indirectly, I think it is crucial that businesses support the Islands’ Partnership through membership so that it can continue its good work.”
“Obviously it is great to hear from members who believe we provide value for money in terms of the membership fees and marketing opportunities, but it is not something we take for granted,” says David. “We know we have to continue to work hard to earn the trust of businesses across all the islands. We hope that, at this time of membership renewal, more businesses will join the cause and really get to know and appreciate the work that we do on everyone’s behalf.”