The Minister for Sport, Tourism And Equalities – Visit To Lancashire

12 January 2015

Marketing Lancashire was happy to welcome and organise a visit by Helen Grant MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities to Lancashire on Thursday 8 January 2015.

The Minister was heading to Lancaster and Morecambe and was keen to meet the partners working together to increase visitors to Morecambe Bay, through initiatives such as the bespoke customer service training programme, Welcome to Morecambe Bay.

Ruth Connor, Chief Executive of Marketing Lancashire and Midland Hotel Manager, Matt Stanaway along with  English Lakes, Director of operations, Douglas Dale met the Minister on arrival at The Midland Hotel, where she was given a quick tour of this iconic Art Deco masterpiece on Morecambe’s picture-perfect promenade.

Ruth introduced Helen, the Minister, to Susannah Bleakley, Executive Director Morecambe Bay Partnership and Karen O’Donoghue, Chief Executive of the Via Partnership, to hear more about the £0.49 million grant and the partners working together on 700 Days to Transform The Bay, supported by the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF).  This project aimed to kick start growth in the visitor economy and to bring jobs as well as new, free training opportunities for businesses in the area. 

Susannah spoke about the partners’ hopes to continue the work through a proposed new programme; a £1.62million project aimed at increasing tourism revenue by £22.9million, creating new jobs and safeguarding a further 10,358 jobs. The decision on this CCF funding is due in about a month’s time.

Karen was pleased to report that the original aim to train 180 delegates in Welcome to Morecambe Bay by June 2015, was well on track;   two open courses are already booking well for 22 January and 9 February and a couple of in-house training days, will take place in January at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve and Grange-over-Sands Information Centre.

At this point Helen was introduced and spent time learning more about the course from three recent delegates who have successfully completed the Welcome to Morecambe Bay Training: Poppy Unsworth, receptionist at The Midland Hotel; Rebecca Walker, Events & Marketing officer at Lancaster Chamber of Commerce; and John Parlane of Bay Seas School.

Before leaving for her next appointment in Lancaster, Helen said congratulations and good luck to Sue Copp, winner of the Lancashire Tourism Awards 2014 Tourism Superstar Award, who is now a finalist for the national VisitEngland Tourism Superstar Award.  This award, voted for by the public, sees Sue go head-to-head with tourism colleagues from across England, via an online vote opening on 31 Jan and hosted by The Daily Mirror. The Minister had met a number of the finalists the previous day in London, where each of the 10 finalists was filmed for their 30 second promotional film to encourage the public vote. Sue had missed the opportunity in London but was thrilled to have met Helen on her visit to the Lancashire coast.

In Lancaster Helen visited a local gym before heading to Lancaster Castle, where she was met by Ruth Connor, Rachael Jackson, Assistant Museum Manager and Lancaster and Fleetwood MP, Eric Ollerenshaw, for a short tour of the castle before this visit to Lancashire by the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities came to an end.

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