Isles of Scilly Destination Management Plan
Securing the future of the islands’ visitor economy
Scilly’s visitor economy – a vital economic driver
- Much like Cornwall, Scilly’s local economy and business base is characterised by small and predominantly micro businesses. Whilst agriculture and the horticultural and marine engineering industries play an important part of the islands’ economy, it is tourism and the wider visitor economy that continues to underpin Scilly’s economic viability. As an industry it supports over 800 jobs – a significant proportion of the working population of the islands – and annually contributes up to £40 million to the local economy (together with a not insignificant value to Penzance and West Cornwall). Such is this dominance, its performance and wellbeing has a profound effect on the way of life on the islands and the services and infrastructure on which our community depend.
- It is important to remember therefore that it is only in the last 2-3 years that more than a decade of decline in visitor volume and value has begun to be reversed. As a consequence, the islands’ visitor economy remains fragile with a number of significant challenges for the sector and the islands to address if it is to not only continue to recover, but also to grow, thrive and sustain.
- Given its importance as the principal economic driver on Scilly, it is vital that the islands’ visitor economy has both a clear vision and an appropriate strategic framework to overcome these challenges and seize new opportunities to grow and contribute to a sustainable economic future for Scilly alongside the emerging Smart Islands programme, new Local Plan and wider housing and infrastructure investments.
- Critically, it will help to grow productivity, encourage innovation and inform future investment priorities with strong alignment to the strategic objectives of the regional SEP, the 10 Opportunities for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – and the government’s Industrial Strategy.
- In 2017, the Islands’ Partnership was successful in securing funding from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP to support the development of a Destination Management Plan to do just this. We are grateful for the LEP’s invaluable support in enabling this vital piece of work to progress.
Destination Management Plan
- Scilly’s first ever Destination Management Plan will provide an enabling framework and a renewed sense of direction and ambition for the islands’ visitor economy over the next five to ten years. It will set out a series of strategic priorities, aims and objectives, accompanied by a shared Action Plan and rolling annual programme setting out clear responsibilities, timescales and targets.
- The IP’s core partners and each of the islands’ major stakeholders (Council of the Isles of Scilly; Tresco Estate; Duchy of Cornwall; Steamship Company; IoS Wildlife Trust) have all given their backing to the approach we are taking and are supportive of the DMP process.
What will the Destination Management Plan seek to achieve?
- The DMP seeks to:
- Galvanise the islands and our industry behind a collective, unified approach. This will require a consistent way of thinking, planning and doing – the Isles of Scilly way, with a new Isles of Scilly standard of quality and service and a consistent and shared Isles of Scilly brand. If we get this right, the prize is a healthy, sustainable tourism industry that’s fit for the future – and therefore, we believe incremental growth is achievable, leading to an increase in the value of the islands’ visitor economy – to over £50m by 2022.
- Set out a focused and relevant business productivity plan for Scilly’s specific business needs, helping to overcome barriers to growth on the islands and identify opportunities for increased productivity and improved competitiveness.
- Inform the refreshed Isles of Scilly Local Plan, including investment priorities and supportive policies to help grow the sector and address known barriers to growth (e.g. housing for seasonal staff, higher quality and styles of accommodation, new tourism services and facilities etc.)
- Stimulate innovation and investment in quality and business excellence with a collective commitment to modernising the sector alongside the Smart Islands’ programme, helping to realise Scilly’s potential to be recognised as an exemplar visitor destination.
- Play an important role in helping to resolve the islands’ transport challenges and their vital role in sustaining the islands’ visitor economy – in particular, taking into account the need to match local services and accommodation supply with future transport capacities.
- Set out a plan to up-skill the sector, including greater digital adoption and stronger linkages between education providers and businesses.
- Capture opportunities to capitalise on the islands’ unique cultural strengths and assets, including its local distinctiveness and special ‘place’ attributes that will be essential in attracting new inward investment as well as in sustaining and growing a vibrant and inclusive community.
Next Steps and Actions
- Clear-minded economic foundations inform the fourteen strategic priorities, framed firstly as objectives, and which in turn drive the supporting Action Plan.
- The Islands’ Partnership will provide the lead, but ultimately this is a shared plan and everyone has a part to play – collectivism is key.