Good times ahead

Cheshire Life: Novem­ber 2018 As she stands down af­ter five years, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mar­ket­ing Cheshire pre­dicts a bright fu­ture for tourism in the county

Cheshire Life - - Society -

The out­go­ing chief of Cheshire tourism says she believes there are good times for the county. ‘I am re­ally op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture for Cheshire and I know that the county’s tourism will con­tinue to go from strength to strength,’ said Ka­t­rina Michel who stands down this month af­ter five years at the helm of Mar­ket­ing Cheshire.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures, Cheshire’s tourist econ­omy is worth over £3.5 bil­lion and em­ploys over 36,000 peo­ple.

And Ka­t­rina, who was awarded the Spe­cial Con­tri­bu­tion to Tourism Award at the county’s an­nual tourism awards, added: ‘I am enor­mously proud of what we have achieved in the last five years and I know that the county’s tourism will con­tinue to go from strength to strength. There is lots of com­pe­ti­tion but I have ab­so­lutely no doubt that Cheshire’s tourism is up to this chal­lenge.’

When she spoke to Cheshire Life a suc­ces­sor had yet to be ap­pointed but Ka­t­rina had some words of ad­vice for who­ever is se­lected to fol­low her as chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mar­ket­ing Cheshire. ‘The dan­ger with Cheshire is that if it’s not care­ful it can look like a lot of other places,’ she said.

‘There are lots of places that of­fer a nice ru­ral ex­pe­ri­ence and Cheshire could find it­self lumped in with Som­er­set, Suf­folk and other places as be­ing a nice place for a coun­try week­end. But Cheshire is so much more than green fields and vil­lages and we have been work­ing hard in the last five to put across the mes­sage that Cheshire has a bit more edge and more moder­nity than that.

‘Cheshire is a lovely place, it’s not like we’re sell­ing a bad prod­uct here. We’re not try­ing to rec­tify any­thing, we’re build­ing on good, but vague, per­cep­tions. I think in the past there was a feel­ing that Cheshire sells it­self and that we shouldn’t tell peo­ple about us be­cause we don’t want to be over-run.

‘The next per­son has to un­der­stand the na­tional pic­ture and where Cheshire can score. They’ll need to pull to­gether the stake-hold­ers and get them all singing from the same hymn sheet to cre­ate a vis­i­tor econ­omy that works all year round.’

Orig­i­nally from Lon­don, Ka­t­rina moved to Cheshire 20 years ago and she is con­fi­dent the in­gre­di­ents are in place for a suc­cess­ful fu­ture. She said the North­gate re­de­vel­op­ment in Ch­ester and the city’s new Sto­ry­house theatre point to promis­ing times ahead and added that HS2 could bring a new wave of tourism to Cheshire and North Wales.

And she paid trib­ute to the peo­ple work­ing in the tourism in­dus­try. ‘There are a lot of good en­trepreneurs out there who are al­ways one step ahead and are build­ing for the next gen­er­a­tion and that has re­ally helped.

‘Cheshire has an ex­tra­or­di­nary range of sites, at­trac­tions and ac­com­mo­da­tion that in­spire tourists to visit from home and abroad. Im­por­tantly it also has world class tourist pro­fes­sion­als with the cre­ativ­ity, hard work and flair to bring it all to life. This win­ning com­bi­na­tion is re­flected in seven years of con­sec­u­tive growth in Cheshire’s tourism in­dus­try, which is an enor­mous achieve­ment and one I’m sure can be built on fur­ther.

‘Tourism is chang­ing fast and there is no room for com­pla­cency. At a na­tional level we not only need to use our cre­ativ­ity and flair to im­prove our prod­ucts – which means on-go­ing fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment – but there needs to be even closer county-wide li­ai­son be­tween all play­ers in the tourist mix. One of the key goals is to make peo­ple stay longer and spend more by turn­ing a one night stay into two. This means look­ing closely at what peo­ple want, in par­tic­u­lar de­vel­op­ing more evening events and ac­tiv­i­ties that will make them want to stay.’

And Ka­t­rina, who will re­main on the board at Sto­ry­house and the Halle, added: ‘I am re­ally op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture for Cheshire. I know all the nice places and I am look­ing for­ward to liv­ing here and en­joy­ing all it has to of­fer. I am still go­ing to be a mas­sive sup­porter of Cheshire. I love it here.’

the county.

En­ter­tain­ment on the evening was themed on ‘Peaky Blin­ders’, the BBC drama which was filmed in Cheshire, in­clud­ing a Peaky Blin­ders-style casino and a Peaky Blinder looka­like char­ac­ter. Cel­e­bra­tions con­tin­ued into the night with guests danc­ing to Cheshire band, Soul Re­volver.

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