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The Isles of Scilly’s latest Visitor Survey has revealed a growing demand for short breaks, particularly amongst first-time visitors to the islands and particularly during the shoulder seasons (March, April, May, September and October).

Last year, 24% of all visitors to Scilly were first timers, 40% of whom stayed for between 2 and 4 nights. These short stay visitors said that they were flexible in terms of their preferred day of arrival, although the largest proportion actually arrived on the islands either on a Monday or Friday. The 2017 Visitor Survey also suggested a desire amongst these first-time short-break visitors to self-cater. This is despite only 17% of short breaks being accommodated within the self-catering sector, according to the statistics collected.

The 2017 survey was the most comprehensive yet, attracting 2,786 responses, an increase of 17% over 2016 (and 92% of which were completed online). 93% of respondents were staying visitors. The annual visitor surveys, which have been conducted by the Islands’ Partnership for the last four years, enable valuable data to be gathered which is now providing a useful insight into specific trends. These in turn, help the IP to shape the islands’ product development to enhance and grow the visitor economy.

Another trend that the visitor survey continues to witness is a significant and growing desire amongst visitors to be able to book online. 50% of respondents would have preferred to do so had the option been available. This compares with the 27% of respondents who actually did book online. The survey also found that 65% of respondents use social media and, of those, 89% were regular users of Facebook, up 2% since the last survey. The biggest percentage increase was however in the use of Instagram, which rose 8% to 21% in just 12 months.

In terms of how visitors found the information they were looking for, an impressive 75% of first-time visitors used visitislesoscilly.com to plan their trip. Overall, visitislesofscilly.com was considered to be the most useful source of information for all visitors (34%), followed by the printed Isles of Scilly Guide (20%) and the Isles of Scilly Travel website (18%).

The survey saw no significant change in the reasons that motivate visitors to come to Scilly. The islands’ natural beauty, the general atmosphere and sense of welcome all scored highest again in visitor satisfaction ratings, whilst the features and activities on the islands which visitors considered of highest importance to them were walking, rest & relaxation, island-hopping, the beaches, local food & drink and wildlife. Indeed, 68% of visitors said nature and wildlife events would encourage them to visit the islands (a new event category added in the 2017 survey), closely followed by food and drink festivals (63%) and walking festivals (53%) – all reinforcing the recommendations within Scilly’s Destination Management Plan for these attributes and experiences to play through more strongly in the destination brand. The lack of evening entertainment and the lack of choice and value of the local food and drink offer once again were both named as areas for improvement, however.

“The 2017 survey was in many ways the most revealing yet and demonstrates that Scilly is no different than other UK destinations in terms of the growing trend for shorter breaks and the ability to book them, and indeed most holidays, online,” says Islands’ Partnership Executive Director, David Jackson. “There’s growing evidence that our new, younger visitors as well as our traditional core market are increasingly wanting to book their stays online as they can do elsewhere. Our current digital project which will see our Visit Isles of Scilly website – visitislesofscilly.com - revamped and upgraded with online book-ability options by the end of this year will significantly help to address this imbalance,” he notes. “The performance of our website is already strong, but we know it will be even more valuable to users, and our members, in reaching out to new markets and attracting even more new visitors to the islands.”

David also suggests an opportunity amongst self-catering accommodation providers to look at the short break market for shoulder season offers. “The survey definitely suggests that those self-catering providers who are not getting whole-week bookings in early and late season should consider splitting their weeks into two and offering short breaks,” he comments. “We are already working on a programme to extend the season, both for later this year but particularly for spring 2019 that will work hand-in-hand to enhance Scilly’s short-break, shoulder-season proposition.”

The comprehensive Visitor Survey 2017 is available to view on the Islands’ Partnership website (Members’ area, Industry Reports, Surveys). Or feel free to call in to the IP office to browse a copy.

The 2018 Visitor Survey is also now available online for this year’s visitors to the islands.

The 2017 Visitor Survey was conducted by the Islands’ Partnership in association with The South West Research Company.

Upcoming Events

  • Tue
    22
    Oct
    2013
    9.30am-11.30pmChurch Hall, Church Street

    This will be first AGM since the IP was formed last year.  Wolf Rock, the Islands’ marketing consultants will also make a presentation of their approach to marketing the islands. The board will report on activities for the past year including the usual matters of finance and governance.  It will also be the first opportunity for members to elect their own representatives to the Board of Directors, with four of the current Directors retiring from office.  

  • Thu
    24
    Oct
    2013
    8pm - 9pmIn your own home!

    FREE and open to all: Claire Jarrett is well-known for her real-time, online seminars or "webinars". This one is designed to help small businesses learn how to set up a marketing campaign on Facebook, even if you are new to it, and how to how to build a fan base.  You'll need to register in advance on www.clairejarrett.com/facebookwebinar. There may be a bit of a hard sell for services at the end - because she offers the webinar for free - but you can just log out at that stage!  

  • Thu
    07
    Nov
    2013
    8:00 pmHeadland Hotel, Newquay

    The IP supported nine Scillonian businesses in their applications to the Cornwall Tourism Awards. Four made it to the finals - Hell Bay Hotel (Small Hotel of the Year), Juliet’s Garden Restaurant (Café and tearoom of the Year), The New Inn Tresco (Pub of the Year), and St Martin’s Dive School (Tourism Activity, Sport & Experience of the Year) - and we'll be wishing them lots of luck this evening when the overall winners are announced.

  • Thu
    14
    Nov
    2013
    10.00-13.00IP Office

    Strategy meeting

  • Thu
    21
    Nov
    2013
    11.30am-1.30pmTregarthen's Hotel, St Mary's

    Meeting and lunch for IP members to learn more about Get Set For Growth, a new initiative to help small businesses with finance, and marketing & sales.

  • Mon
    25
    Nov
    2013
    2.00-3.30pmIP Office

    Meeting to discuss Walk Scilly and the creation of more events to boost tourism calendar.  Any member wanting to be involved should contact the IP office.

  • Thu
    28
    Nov
    2013
    10.30am -12.30pmLife Long Learning Centre, Carn Gwaval

    Short practical training session to get you started on Twitter: creating an account, understanding how it works, using it as an effective marketing tool…

  • Wed
    11
    Dec
    2013
    10.30am - 2.00pmTregarthen's Hotel, St Mary's

    Informal gathering and networking opportunity for IP members.  Listen to short, informative presentations and business advice from invited guest speakers, including Robin Barker for Services for Tourism which managed the recent Cornwall Tourism Awards. 

  • Thu
    12
    Dec
    2013
    10.00 - 1.00pmIP Office

    Strategy Meeting

  • Mon
    23
    Dec
    2013
    12pm-3pmIP Office, Hugh Town

    Come and collect your copy of the Visit Isles of Scilly 2014 brochure, and chat with the IP directors and staff about the new look and branding.  We'll have a glass of wine and a mince pie waiting for you, too!

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